Bigger purses, more stakes for three-year olds this winter and spring, as reported by David Grening in the Form. The Withers, once a backdoor route to the Preakness and eliminated last year, is back as what they want me to call a 'Derby prep,' but really as an early-February prep for the Gotham and the Wood. Not sure really why a race would retain its graded status after taking a hiatus, but it's a Grade 3 and therefore a means to an end for Derby hopefuls.
The Withers will be a stepping-stone to the March 3 Gotham Stakes, which will have its purse increased to $400,000 from $250,000, according to Campo.I'm guessing that the supplement for the Wood is over and above whatever Genting will be turning over to NYRA for its share of the slots and virtual table games revenue.
Those races lead to the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, which will be run April 7 at 1 1/8 miles over the main track. The Wood will retain its $1 million purse. Genting, the company that operates Aqueduct’s casino, supplemented the purse with $250,000 in 2011 and will do so again in 2012, according to Campo. [DRF]
That money continues to pour in, as anyone who was out at the Big A this past holiday weekend might surmise. I was there on Friday, and the outdoor parking lots that are designated for the casino were entirely full at around 1:30. So I shelled out the two bucks for the track lot, which is as ragged and unkempt as compared to the pristine casino lot as the track side of the building is to Resorts World. Faded parking lines lead to a free-for-all; beware of the potential to get boxed in by a third row. The whole logic for NYRA charging for parking was that Genting would be doing so for their patrons. So far, that hasn't happened, so the only people paying to park there are us.
Paul Moran wrote in his column on ESPN.com that, on Saturday, the seats at the table games were filled to capacity at 11 a.m. and people await vacancies.
Standard video-lottery terminals are being claimed by determined players who enter the building in a steady stream, pass beneath a three-story crystal chandelier and ride wide escalators into a glittering expanse that unlike other such enterprises has thoughtfully integrated electronic gaming and racing.Eh, I think the jury is still out on the integration thing...maybe when I see just a single TV around the bar tuned in to the simulcast feed, we can discuss that.
The numbers surely reflect the anecdotal evidence of a busy weekend. After the win per machine figure dipped to $516 from the gaudy figures of the opening weeks, it jumped back up to $570 for the week ending Nov 26. Meanwhile however, there was little such bounce at Yonkers, where the numbers continue to sag. After sinking further to $259 for the week ending 11/19 (see this post again for background), the holiday week produced only a slight bounce to $261. That as opposed to $303 for the same week last year. Seems to be little doubt that Resorts World has hurt business at Yonkers....I'd say, back of the napkin calculation, to the tune of close to 20%. A crack in the veneer of what to this point has been a recession-and-justaboutanything-proof business. What happens if and when full fledged casinos open in the Catskills, or closer to home?
- Nice win by To Honor And Serve in the Cigar Mile, and quite a nice late summer and fall campaign over all after quite a disappointing spring. But an Eclipse for best three-year old for winning the PA Derby, and beating this mediocre field after running 7th in the Classic? I don't think so....still Caleb's Posse for me.
Pedestrian numbers in the Demoiselle and Remsen, with the winners earning Beyers of 71 and 80 respectively. Both winners did endure eventful trips however, with Remsen winner O'Prado Again caught wide both turns, and Disposablepleasure stumbling badly at the start and causing trouble for others during the race (and surviving a claim of foul). O'Prado Again, winning in his first try on a fast dirt track, is by El Prado out of a winless Pulpit mare who's a half-sister to the dams of stakes winners First Samurai and Audacious Chloe. Disposablepleasure is the first US graded stakes winner for Giacomo, standing now for a humbling $5,000 at Adena Springs; she's out of a winless With Approval mare who's a half-sister to the multiple graded-stakes placed Riley Tucker.