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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

As the Breeders' Cup, and Greatness, Turns

Paulick writes that Monmouth is in the "driver's seat" for the 2013 Breeders' Cup, which confuses me a little because I thought it was committed to Santa Anita and Churchill Downs for most of the rest of eternity.  Interesting piece; he discusses the no-Lasix rules that the BC is planning to impose...and the fact that the horsemen could in theory block out-of-state simulcasting under the Interstate Horseracing Act, "which requires approval of the representative horsemen’s organization at the host track for any interstate simulcast," should they not approve of those restrictions.  New Jersey horsemen have indicated that, though they oppose the blanket banning of Lasix, they're OK with it for the Breeders' Cup.  "That kind of cooperation is why some think Monmouth Park is in the driver's seat to become host in 2013," according to Paulick.

However, such approvals are not needed in New York State, which is exempt from the law.  According to the article: 

  NYRA last hosted the Breeders’ Cup at Belmont Park in 2005, and it was widely believed the event would return to the Long Island, N.Y., racetrack next year after such a lengthy hiatus. But that was before the upheaval created by a takeout scandal rocked NYRA’s management, leading to the dismissal of CEO Charles Hayward and the move by Cuomo to reconstruct NYRA’s board of directors with political appointees. That NYRA board reconstruction, which has yet to begin, leaves too many questions unanswered about the future of the racing association for the comfort of many Breeders’ Cup directors. [Paulick Report]
Hmmm.  Seems like really odd reasoning to me, considering that the future of Monmouth was up in the air just a few months ago when last year's lessee Morris Bailey dropped out of the picture.  Now it's leased for five years to the NJ horsemen, and, though they claim to be on a path to profitability largely, one would surmise, due to the OTB location in Woodbridge as well as plans for several more locations and up to 12 outlets in restaurants and bars, can one really say that there are less questions about a track in a slots-less state with a hostile governor (even moreso I'd say than Cuomo) who had no qualms about the industry going under, then in New York?  The Cuomo takeover aside, and the questions it may (or may not) raise, NYRA surely isn't going anywhere, secure in its slots revenues.  Well, at least for the next three years anyway.

So, can't say I really understand that reasoning.  Just seems as if the Breeders' Cup doesn't want to have their event in New York, period.  And maybe the negative vibes and publicity from the security barn at the Belmont didn't help.

Well, that's fine, I'm not complaining, Monmouth is cool, hope it's still around for the event.  Had a great time there even in the rain last time.  Besides, I have a bit of a problem with Belmont as far as Breeders' Cup races go.  Think that championship route races should be around two turns and, as you probably know, all races there up to a mile and an eighth are run around one turn, which makes it more like a long sprint race as far as I'm concerned.  Even the mile and a quarter Classic starts on the turn, making it a 1 1/2 turn race, if that.  I was talking to a buddy at Belmont on Saturday about this; he was saying that races should have turns, as many as possible.  (I know that some people in Europe decry the turns, say it causes injuries, but I think that applies more to sprinters running all out on hard dirt surfaces....though I could be wrong about that.)  That's where a lot of races are decided, and they test the agility of the animal and the split-second decision making of the jockey. 

We were discussing the matter of turns with respect to Frankel.  I don't really follow European racing unless I'm at the Arc, so I was surprised when I saw the replay of his win at Royal Ascot last week and saw that the race had zero turns; run down a straightaway.  And I was also surprised, considering all the lavish and adoring praise I was reading on Twitter the morning that he ran - including tweets placing him amongst the great horses of all time - to see that he's never run further than a mile, and never raced outside of his home turf in the UK.  So, with respect to Frankel being "great," as far as I'm concerned, he doesn't even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath...nor in the same paragraph as...

....Forego.  Or John Henry.  Because to me...and again, this is just my opinion....the truly "great" horses throughout history are the ones who accepted every challenge their connections could find - raced on different surfaces, at different distances, overcoming adversity, coming back to race at short intervals again and again and, in particular, conceding copious amounts of weight to worthy challengers.  (Or, at least, as in a case such as Niatross, who, as a standardbred, did not concede weight nor race at different distances, 37 wins in 39 attempts against top pacers at a myriad of tracks would qualify too.)  In other words, the kind of horse we don't see anymore, and will quite likely never again see in our lifetimes.  I feel really privileged to have been able to see those horses run.  And I can understand why those who are younger or newer to the game would toss "great" around for a horse like Frankel.  To me, he's shown that he's brilliant.  And I suppose one can use the word great.  But not great!  In my book, he hasn't even been given the chance to be great.  Even Zenyatta, who mostly stayed home in California to race on familiar ground against familiar opponents, was at least given that chance in her final start; and she rose to the occasion, even in defeat.   From what I've read about Frankel, he will not be given that chance.  And that's too bad.  Because maybe he really is great.  Not in my book though.

So, I think I'll end this post with what I consider to be some true greatness.  Watching these horses, the idea that Frankel, after 11 starts, has achieved a comparable level seems like a joke.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Top of the Slots

Genting announced in a statement that its Resort World racino:

..“has surpassed the Las Vegas Strip, Pennsylvania, Atlantic City, Connecticut and all other locales to become the single largest gross slot gaming revenue and tax-generating gaming property in all the United States.”   []
Wow, seriously?  Right here at our own Big A?  In terms of revenue handed over to the state, it's not even close. 
According to Resorts World, the $40 million received by the state from the Aqueduct racino in May far exceeded the amounts other states collect from gaming operations.  The 41 Las Vegas Strip casinos contributed about $30 million to Nevada in April and the 12 casinos in Atlantic City paid $18.3 million to New Jersey, Resorts World reported.  Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casinos together generated $28 million for Connecticut in May. [Daily Politics]
We haven't looked at the win per machine for awhile; remember it dropped off after the inflated numbers when there weren't that many machines during the soft opening.  Been a steady climb throughout the year, but just recently has it consistently exceeded the $380 per machine figure that NYRA used as an estimate on which to base its purses (since reduced at lower claiming levels after the New York Times decided that those prizes were behind the spate of breakdown on the inner track).  Last five weeks were $413/$380/$388/$371.  Gonna be close as to whether they can maintain that $380 number throughout the year; if you look at historical Yonkers data, April/May is just about the peak period of the year.

Nonetheless, it's a lot of money, really impressive on one level, kinda really depressing on another.  And Genting took the opportunity to tout the numbers and offer the first pushback from the racinos since Governor Cuomo threw ice cold water on the subsequently and suddenly mum NYGA's aspirations to get exclusive casino rights.   
  Genting officials said the May revenue figures bolster their argument that they are best suited to operate a full-fledged casinos.  “This is a partnership that works,” [RSNY President Michael] Speller said. [Daily News
Additionally, the Resorts World press release included this quote attributed to Representative Gary Pretlow, chairman of the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee: 
“As New York State proceeds down the path of full legalized gaming, it is crucial that taxpayers and students not get shortchanged in the process....As evidenced by Resorts World’s May figures, the state’s education system greatly benefits from our current gaming structure. Any changes to that structure must ensure that students get more, not less, of the revenue that gaming brings to the state.” [Politics on the Hudson]
The governor however made it quite clear what he thinks of the racinos (a "scandal"), and I don't see where these numbers are going to change his mind.  He's probably thinking of all the additional revenue that could be flowing to the state if so much of it wasn't going to "subsidize" that damn horse racing industry.

Meanwhile, Cuomo's office has prepared the New York State Racing Franchise Accountability and Transparency Act of 2012.  That's the legislation that will effectively put him in control of NYRA for three years, thereby making it more....well....accountable and transparent.  And compliant, and subservient to his wishes and whims.   He could probably even score a primo box at Saratoga if, that is, he had any real interest in anything other than squeezing more money out of the arrangement.
It’s believed the proposed law will be adopted this week before the Legislature concludes business. However, it’s unknown when actual appointments to the NYRA board will be made.

The process of conducting required background checks of prospective appointees is time-consuming. {Saratogian]
And as the supreme head of NYRA, Cuomo might want to put the kibosh on any talk of Catskill OTB operating in the void left by the closure of NYC-OTB.  That would only erode all the hard work and significant gains that NYRA has made to attract on-track and online customers at the higher takeout rates they provide.  Capitol Confidential reports that the bill is on the agenda in both legislative houses. 
When NYC OTB went under, New York City GOP Senators, Andrew Lanza and Mary Golden caught flack from DC-37, the union representing the now-laid off OTB workers, for their voting with the majority not to rescue the organization.

If the GOP-controlled Senate were to support another OTB in New York, along with hiring back the DC-37 workers, it could go a long way toward repairing relations between the union the senators — always a good thing in an election year.
And we always know where the priorities of the GOP-controlled Senate lies.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Belmont Notes

Rather busy this week, so just a few miscellaneous notes on Belmont day.  I imagine many of you have read at least one of the hundreds of different accounts of the race and the day by professional and us amateur writers alike, so I'll try to add some stuff that just maybe you have not read elsewhere:

 - 85,811 people, wow.  Man, the people just kept pouring in all day, right up to the end.  This guy in my office got stood up by his buddy, he told me, and showed up just for the late Pick Three!  I got there by 10:30, definitely the earliest I've ever been at a track (not counting the barns, breakfast, or Thanksgiving).  The Head Chef joined me later, no way I was getting her out for the early double on this day.   Though there was still plenty of room in the Hempstead Ave lot and in the backyard (got prime spots in both), it was still far more crowded at that time than probably any other day of the year.  Knew it was going to get far more so, but I'd say it crested at around the 9th race, whereas I'd expect it to have done so an hour or two earlier.

It really was pretty packed; it was hard to navigate around.   Not at the betting windows though.  At least at the ones I used; didn't encounter a single line, either at a manned window or machine, that was more than one deep all day.  Anyone who was waiting to bet just wasn't trying hard enough.  Virtually always, at any track on any day in my rather long experience, one can find some place somewhere that doesn't have long lines.  On this Belmont day for me, it was the 2nd floor of the grandstand.  No one will give NYRA due credit of course, but one thing that will definitely discourage seldom-timers to come back is if they find themselves getting shut out. Similarly, there were concessions galore, and didn't notice any lines that were unmanageable; and none at all at a lot of small stations selling those 24 oz Heinekens for $15.

Only long lines I noticed there were 1) at the ladies rooms in the grandstand - though there were no lines whatsoever at some restroom trailers stationed in the backyard where the band was playing, as well as at an ample colony of porto-potties there;  2) at the porto-potties just out back of the grandstand building.  I was wondering why there were guys standing on those lines considering that the men's rooms were pretty much line-free.  I figured it out when I smelled all the pot smoke steadily emanating from there; and 3) at the ATM's.  Those lines were really long.  I only have a certain amount of sympathy however for those who run out of cash at 3PM on Belmont day.

All in all, it was a pretty fantastic day.  The weather cooperated, bringing only two or three very brief and very light showers after the forecast had grown ominous early in the day.

 - Once again, had to smile upon opening the NY Times on Sunday.  I don't really want to spend my time regularly commenting on, and criticizing the tone and tenor of their racing coverage.  But the way the paper flaunts its posture towards the sport is just so blatant and shameless, it's hard to let it pass without a chuckle and a comment.  This year, the Belmont had to share the front page of the sports section with all of the other (supposedly) big events that happened on Saturday - some tennis tournament, some boxing match, some hockey game (are they still playing?) (not anymore!!), Mets-Yankees (remember when that was a novelty before it was ruined by excessive interleague play?  Told you that would get old.. )   Inside, there was a full page of coverage in addition to a cute piece by Ryan Goldberg about a group of track regulars.  There on the 5th page of the sports section was Joe Drape's article on the race....and then a sidebar on the right.  One might expect that there you would read brief summaries on the other four graded stakes races.

But no.  Instead, there was an article by Walt Bogdanich - Congress Seeks Information on Doping.  This was taken from The Rail was posted there at 3:45 PM on Belmont day.  So, while the rest of us were enjoying the day at the track, this guy was tirelessly working to remind us of how corrupt and unethical the sport is.  And again, it's not like I don't think it's a news item worthy of being reported.  But, in the Sunday sports section on the day after the Belmont?  Really?  It's like, lest anyone think that this was actually a good day for the sport....or that there's any such thing....get a load of this.  And, just for good measure, a capsule underneath, led in bold lettering by: Fractured Leg in Undercard.  For heaven's sake.

 - An amazing betting card; in the 13 races, only three horses went off less than 2-1, none lower than Winter Memories at 1.15-to-1 in the Just A Game.  As you may have surmised from my picks, I got off to a fast start and spent the rest of the day giving it back.  Not actually a bad result, not complaining at all.  Got a big boost when the early double paid $44 for a 2-1 favorite and a 3-1 shot; not too shabby.  I tweeted at one point that if Michael Matz had a good day, I wouldn't.  Well, I still actually did, but, you know..

I loved Hungry Island in the aforementioned Just A Game, and was alive to her in the double with Caixa Electronica.  But I wasn't feeling nearly so confident as post time approached.  One would think that, with all the money in the pools, the concept of a horse being 'live' or 'dead' on the board wouldn't apply.  But something seemed wrong.  Hungry Island was the second choice in the morning line, and had defeated Tapitsfly fairly easily at Churchill.  So, it didn't at all ring true to me that Tapitsfly was a solid second choice over Hungry Island.  Why is it that I always seem to be right when I have that queasy feeling from the tote?  I guess someone knew that Ramon would take Tapitsfly out to the lead in 23 2/5 and then basically cut a 23 second per quarter pace home (actually 22.86 to come home for good measure).  Nobody was catching her.

And actually, it was almost as if "they" knew in the Belmont too, as Union Rags was favored for much of the pre-race period over eventual slight choice Dullahan, who was 9-5 in the revised morning line and seemed the clear choice on paper.  Man, I was dead wrong about the winner, who I gave no shot.  I did feel a little good though about discarding Dullahan and ending up on 20-1 Atigun, who gave me ample excitement turning for home.  Thought I was solid for at least my place bet, but Paynter held on unexpectedly in a grim and gritty performance.  As for the winner, all props to him, but I'm not buying the notion that this means he's back to his juvenile form and that he now jumps to the head of the three-year old class.  The result of the mile and a half race just does not, in my opinion, have much relevance to the relative ability of these horses at "normal" distance.  So I look forward to betting against him again.  OK, that's it for now, back to work..

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Belmont Day

In the 2nd, Love to Run (5-1) seems to have improved at three for the live Kimmel barn, and makes his third start of the form cycle.  Ran a close second in his 3yo debut to the Toddster's Street Brawl, who won impressively in allowance company in his next start; and the race has produced five winners and two seconds overall.  Last effort was a traffic disaster, uncomfortable on the rail throughout before checking and dropping back sharply.  Still gathered his senses and finished with a lot of interest.  Goes back to Alvarado here, and may like the stretchout in distance.  Son of Pulpit is out of a Quiet American mare who's a half to the dam of the multiple graded winner Sassy Image.  Wild Target (2-1) has had his chances for the red hot Kenneally barn.  Money-burner, or ready to break through here?  Escape Artist (3-1) has two good tries this distance for another ridiculously hot trainer in Chad Brown.

In the 4th, I like the form on Moonstock (4-1); don't mind the time between races given the steady series of drills on the Saratoga training track.  Ran second last out to Where's the Baby, who won his next in allowance company; and ahead of Arc Above, 2nd and then 1st in his next two. Two races back, he was way wide on both turns and did quite well to finish third in his first race in ten months.  I'm a little queasy on his chances because Mott has been really cold here lately, but maybe that's too much information.  (He's been really bad though, well-bet horses well beaten up the track.)  Ur (12-1) was carried wide into the stretch in his last and finished OK; could outrun his odds here with a kinder trip from a slightly better post.  Current Design (7-2) moved up on the Keeneland Poly, which bodes well for his turf debut for the aforementioned sharp Chad Brown barn.

In the 5th, Carbon County (7-2) has run well off a layoff in the past, and tries to do so here for Mike Hushion, 30% in the 61-180 day layoff category.  Moved up to allowance company at Tampa in his last, in February, and ran a close second against what's proven to be a very good field.  Under Control, the winner,  moved up in allowance class at Keeneland and just missed; and the 3rd and 4th place finishers won their next tries.  Ramon Dominguez wins at a 41% rate for this barn, so they must mean business here.  Adirondack Dancer (2-1) is the one to beat; will have to contend with an outside post.

In the 6th, Brimstone Island (5-1) continues to improve after being claimed for a mere $16k early this year.   Found himself head and head with Paynter last out; expect Xavier Perez to revert to the stalking style that served him better two races back, as well as in his prior one turn races.  Lots of trouble in his comment lines; think he can be there with a cleaner trip and at a fair price.   Inflation Target (4-1) has burned some money since graduating, and figures to be close again.  Teeth of the Dog (2-1) will get bet because he ran in the Preakness and ran 3rd at 53-1 in the Wood.  I just don't like him.

In the 8th, the G1 Just A Game, Hungry Island (5-2) looks like your typical Shug mare who starts to get really good as her four-year season wears on.  Comes off a career-best effort winning the G2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile last out with a powerful brush in the stretch.  Sure to be second choice with Winter Memories (6-5) in the race, but I strongly prefer Hungry Island in this spot.  The favorite was fine winning her season debut against a moderate crew at best.  Think she could be running into a buzzsaw here.  Tapitsfly (3-1) continued gamely for 2nd as the top choice powered by at CD....could be worth a shot using her for second in the exacta if the price is right.

The Belmont lost much of its betting allure along with all its other allure when I'll Have Another scratched.  Favorite role goes to Dullahan (9-5) who, at first glance, may look quite logical at a mile and a half off his close for 3rd in the Derby.  Keep in mind though that, while it may have looked like he was closing fast, he came home in a lethargic 25 4/5 seconds.   I don't see any reason why Dullahan should thrive at this distance anymore than his half-brother Mine That Bird did.  Paynter (7-2) earned a freaky Beyer against a short field of moderate talent (the fact that I picked second place Brimstone Island notwithstanding) at a mile and a sixteenth.  Do you really think he's gonna stay this distance?   I don't.   Don't mean to pick on Michael Matz, but I just don't like Union Rags (3-1) either.  Has shown no sign that he's progressed from his two-year old form.  So, one might think I'd be psyched since I don't like the top three choices.   Problem is it's slim pickens amongst the rest.  So here's a not overly enthusiastic vote for Street Life (8-1), who at least is moving in the right direction, and seemed to like both Belmont and the addition of blinkers in his fast closing third in the Peter Pan.  Room for further improvement in only his 6th career start for Chad Brown.  He's been hot, did I mention that?  Best of luck everyone, and have a great Belmont day!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

All the News That's Fit to Manipulate

I went to the NY Times website on Tuesday night.  I was looking for what I figured was the inevitable pre-Belmont front page article by Joe Drape and his partner-in-crime Walt Bogdanich; with their latest exposé in a continuing and, at least in Drape's case, long-running series of similar exposés on drugs, cheating trainers, and dead horses.  But there was nothing there.  Scrolled down and noticed down in the sports section nestled about 2/3rds down the home page this story here.  A little more on Doug O'Neill, but mostly about J. Paul Reddam, the owner of I'll Have Another as well as Cash Call, the predatory loan company with a shady record both ethically and in the eyes of regulators in some states.  Nothing new here to be sure, and I've made allusions to it on this site in the past.

So, I have to say that I was utterly flabbergasted when I saw the piece, by Richard Sandomir, who does a fine job commenting on TV sports coverage in his usual role at the paper, right there on the front page.  The article is perfectly legitimate and timely as a background piece about an owner of the Triple Crown prospect with a record of unsavory business practices.  But it's only front page news here because the editorial staff of the paper determined that it fits with its agenda of portraying the sport in the most negative light possible.  And the Times sure has no hesitation to make that agenda clear.  It's almost laughable at this point when you see a story like this hogging front page space.

Saw another article posted on the site on Wednesday night, this one in the City Room section and entitled At Belmont Park, a Clinic's Doctor Gets Track Workers Back on Their Feet.  And I thought, oh good, there's a positive, feel-good article, about a tireless doctor working arduously around the clock to help out people in need.  But it's not; it's really less about the doctor and far more about the miserable conditions that cause people to go see him - rat bites, bed bugs, bad air, bad food ("possibly from eating food left for hours in barns swarming with flies"), the flies, giant dung heaps, broken jaws from horses swinging their heads.  It's a bleak and depressing piece that paints a horrifying picture of conditions on the backstretch, and should I have expected anything else?  Figured it might even land on the front page (it didn't).

Profoundly worse in my view though is the way the paper is reporting on the revelation, first reported as the lead front page headline story on Tuesday and mentioned in the prior post, that the New York Gaming Association (NYGA) contributed $2 million to the Committee to Save New York, a pro-business group closely associated with Governor Cuomo, right around the time that he officially made expanded gaming a priority; within days in fact of a op-ed piece in favor of casinos that he wrote for the Times.  The paper followed that up with an article by Nicholas Confessore on Wednesday in which the Cuomo administration, and Mayor Bloomberg, defended the governor's ties to the group.

And today, Danny Hakim writes (based on a report in the Wall Street Journal) that three Genting executives personally pitched Cuomo on the now-dead Big A convention center at a fund raiser. 

The event was attended by real estate and gambling executives, as well as Jennifer Cunningham, a communications strategist who consults for Genting. The convention proposal was made by K. T. Lim, the chairman of Genting, and Christian Goode, the company’s lobbyist.
The fund-raiser was not originally disclosed on the governor’s public schedules, The Journal reported; the omission, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo told the newspaper, was “inadvertent.” [NYT]
This is all well and good.  However, the Times fails, in any of these articles, to mention Cuomo's comments at his Monday news conference, which I imagine that Hakim and/or Confessore probably attended (and if they didn't, they surely are aware of what he said).  To repeat, the governor said of NYGA's hopes to gain exclusive rights for expanded casinos at its existing racetrack racinos: 
“I 100 percent oppose that. One hundred percent. I believe it should be an open competition where we bring in the best companies and I believe we should get the best deal for the taxpayer that we can get....I don’t believe the racinos have any claim for primacy.
And then he went on to call the current racino arrangement a "scandal," implying that taxpayers are not getting their fair share of the proceeds.

Now, the Times is clearly raising fair and important points here.  It's surely disturbing that a company like Genting can get face time with the governor by virtue of their campaign donations.  And the idea of an advocacy group like NYGA donating unlimited and unregulated sums to a group closely allied with Cuomo reeks of the kind of same-old/same-old special interest influence that has ruled New York politics and that the governor has pledged to distance himself from.  It's only because of the Times' reporting that we even know about the donation, as they are not required by law to be attributed to the donator. 

However, it's clear that NYGA was formed for one purpose, and one purpose only - to get casino gambling for themselves.  On Monday....prior to the publication of the original article....Cuomo made it entirely clear that this is not going to happen on his watch.  To me, that changes the entire context of this story....and not in a way that the Times particularly wanted to see I'm sure, as it runs squarely counter to the point that they are obviously trying to make - that the governor is under the sway of groups donating to his cause.

So, the Times has apparently decided to simply ignore the governor's remarks.  And that is just wrong on many levels.  This just HAS to be reported - it's an integral part of the story, whether they like it or not.  To not report it is either incompetence, or, even worse but far more likely in my view, a case of the Times manipulating the news so that it better fits with its agenda.  Without trying to be too over-dramatic here, that's something I'd expect to find, for example, in the state-controlled Syrian press rather than in the most prominent newspaper in our country of unfettered free press and expression.  It's unfathomable and unconscionable.  In my opinion.

And now, enough of that.  13 races on Saturday, full fields galore, and you know me, I'm as excited (or more) for those restricted claimers on the grass as for the supporting stakes.  So, time to get to work.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Pop Goes the NYGA

If you heard a loud sound, like a giant bubble bursting, early Monday afternoon, it was probably that of the New York Gaming Association, whose hopes of exclusive control of expanded gaming in the state virtually went up in flames with these five words spoken by Governor Cuomo:  "I 100 percent oppose that."  The governor, whose impressive power was very much in display on a day when Mayor Bloomberg and NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly quickly fell into line on his proposal to stem the obscene volume of NYC marijuana arrests under their watch, was referring to the idea being pushed by NYGA that new casinos should be limited to current racino sites.  "You guys got that point?" he asked, almost mockingly, for emphasis before launching into his slapdown. 

  “I 100 percent oppose that. One hundred percent. I believe it should be an open competition where we bring in the best companies and I believe we should get the best deal for the taxpayer that we can get....I don’t believe the racinos have any claim for primacy.
  I can't imagine that the racinos have a prayer if this governor is so opposed.   And they surely must be lamenting the $2 million they gave to the Committee to Save New York, a business group with ties to Cuomo which actively campaigned for his economic program; that, according to today's NY Times front page investigatory story (Joe Drape's inevitable pre-Belmont bombshell will have to wait for another day I guess...I'd say Thursday).   (And, by the way, if the Times was trying to make the point that the governor was under the influence of that money, this statement pretty much blunted that, and just prior to its publication day too.  Wonder if the governor's men had advance word of the story?)

It will be interesting to read NYGA's reaction.  Thus far, all we've gotten from them has been a steady flow of smug, self-congratulatory canned propaganda about the revenue and jobs they've created and how socially responsible they are, but this changes the game and fast.  If and when it becomes apparent that the racinos will be excluded from the casino sweepstakes, you can expect that NYGA will pivot and become a vociferous opponent of the casino referendum.  With their very existence potentially on the line with the prospect of competing full-scale casinos, and with the Citizens Union decision permitting unlimited donations to SuperPACs also applicable to issue campaigns, a company with the resources of Genting could literally try to buy the referendum's defeat.  But hey, that's the way this Supreme Court says it should be, right?

Also during the press conference, I was reading tweets reporting that Cuomo referred to the current racino arrangement as a "scandal."  Of course, Twitter is highly limited as far as substantive reporting (though quite proficient in reporting out-of-context unsubstantive tidbits over and over and over again), so I was curious to hear exactly what the governor was referring to.  If you listen to the entire statement, as I did here, starting at around the 9:00 mark, it's quite clear what his point was. 
  "I do not want to be in a situation where the assumption is that these tracks have the casinos and we have to figure out how to get money from them.  The current racino situation in this state is a scandal, in my opinion.  You try to find the rhyme or reason on racinos, and why taxpayers get what they get, it defies logic." 
To me, this fits right into the context of his remarks a few months ago when he asked: "What is it worth to this state to have this industry? And how much do we subsidize them? And do we want to?"   Seems clear that the governor is irritated with the current arrangement.  Fortunately for the tracks, their revenue cuts are written into the law of the state and cannot be changed merely by executive edict.  It would instead take an act of a compliant legislature under the sway of a governor who seems to get most of want he wants, and mostly all of what he really wants.

Cuomo also spoke about the collapse of talks with Genting over a convention center at Aqueduct, which you can hear at the beginning of the abovelinkedto video.  Basically, Genting planned to subsidize the convention center with racino money, but wanted a guarantee that that money flow would not be threatened by a casino competitor in NYC.  Cuomo would have none of that.  Instead, he'll just find some other company who is willing to foot the entire bill for a money-losing convention center as long as they can operate a money-making casino.  Which I imagine shouldn't be too hard to find.