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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

NYRA Admission (and Parking) Increases Announced (and Tweeted)

I wrote about the Rebel and some other stuff on the TimeformUS blog here.

Regarding, and expanding upon, what I wrote there about the Derby points system, the more I think about it, the less it makes any sense the way that the points value of the races goes up to 100-40-20 starting with the races the last weekend of this month.  I mean, it's basically win-and-you're-in at this point, whether the winner were to get 50 points or 25 points or 25,000,000 points.  So, it's absolutely meaningless how many points that the winner gets.  It would be different if the horses' positions in the standings actually meant something, instead of the #20 spot being as valuable as the #1 spot.  Like, say, if the Derby connections drew post positions in order of those standings.  Then it would really matter who had the most points, and maybe some trainers would think twice about training a horse who's already in up to the race instead of running and trying to move up.

Also, if some synthetic horse clunks up for third in the Blue Grass, it can get in with 20 points - surely a possibility.  And not only get in, but have the same shot at a favorable post draw as the horse with the most points.  That just doesn't make sense.  But neither do a lot of things about this.  Like why a race on Polytrack in Dubai would possibly be a race in which a second - and quite possibly even a third - place finish would get a horse into a race on dirt in Kentucky.  That's just ridiculous.

Also on the TimeformUS blog, we'll shortly we now have a post up about our speed figures in the Rebel.  Short version is that we have a different take on the race than some other figure makers.  With rain falling, and ample work done on the track prior to the Rebel, it seems to our guy that the track was faster than it was for the prior races.  It would seem unlikely that these three-year olds, bumping around down the stretch as they did, could really have run nearly as fast as did the older Golden Lad in the Razorback one race before, if the track was exactly the same.

 - NYRA officially announced their admission increases for Saratoga ($5 / $8 for grandstand / clubhouse, up from $3 / $5).  Also, the preferred and trackside parking goes up $2, to $7 and $12, while the general parking remains free (as does the street if you don't mind walking a few blocks).  The parking increases were not included in NYRA's press release on the topic of pricing for the Belmont Stakes and Saratoga.  I saw it in a response from NYRA's Director of Communications Eric Wing to a query on Twitter, where he also noted that the preferred parking at Belmont is going up a buck, to $3, and the clubhouse parking is going up two dollars to $7.  Thought they'd slip that one by, eh?  Belmont Stakes grandstand admission remains at $10 while the clubhouse goes to $30 from $20.

Now, as I've said, I really don't have a problem with NYRA raising admission prices at Saratoga.  (Though full disclosure is that that's easy for me to say since I get a media pass.  I am happy however to pay those kinds of prices, as well as $10-$12 to park, at Del Mar.)  I don't believe that most people who go to the track to bet a couple hundred bucks on horses will mind an extra few dollars spent to get in; nor should they.  I believe the new prices are perfectly reasonable.  At Saratoga.  Belmont is a different story.  I do have a problem with grandstand admission going up to $5, and there being no grandstand in which to sit or bet, with its scheduled closure for days other than the Belmont Stakes.  That's a case of people paying more, and getting far less.  I still can't imagine that that's going to stand, but I could be wrong, we'll see.

 - The reaction of the Monticello horsemen to the Adelaar casino plans, sans racetrack, was predictable. As reported by Bill Finley in Harness Racing Update, the horsemen association president Alan Schwartz said:

"According to the plans I've seen, I don't see a racetrack anywhere or even a mention of a racetrack.  The fact is they claimed at the presentation they've been working on these plans for two years.  They didn't just take the track out the other day.  I am going to assume they never had any intention of having a racetrack at the Concord.
Last year they invited the horsemen's association to a presentation....showing us a rendering of a new paddock, a new clubhouse, a new racetrack.  They put on a dog and pony show for us and I do believe that was to get us on board to support them in their casino proposal....We were certainly misled and I think they said what they said only to try and get our support."
Maybe Empire stole those renderings to show the horsemen from Louis Cappelli!  He was the developer who originally proposed to move the racetrack to the Concord as part of his plan to build an expanded slots parlor there.  In any event, Schwartz said that this will only harden the horsemen's position in the ongoing dispute over the cap on VLT revenues.

Can you imagine the outrage in the press if NYRA tried to pull something like this?

 - We're not allowed to brag about picks on the TimeformUS blog because it's unseemly and unprofessional.  But since this blog qualifies on both of those counts, did you see my preview of the Honey Fox at Gulfstream on Saturday?  :)


Anonymous said...

You sort of answered your own question by acknowledging that "20th" is as valuable as "first."

The Derby points system is to determine who should be horses number 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24. It serves no other purpose than to determine who can start if more than 20 horses enter.

The hand wringing, wailing, and gnashing of teeth over trying to make this a ranking system is a waste of time because that's not this system's purpose and never was.

jk said...

Resorts World at the Big A is doing great with no charge for admission or parking.

The race is on for the development of the Albany area casino....

Christopher Tague, a planner with Howe's Cave Development, said the owners of the Schoharie County tourist operation recently began marketing 330 acres for a casino. The late thrust came after observing the local opposition to the Saratoga racino site for a casino, Tague said.

"We didn't think we had a shot because we figured Saratoga was going to be the place; we thought it was a done deal," he said. "We find out it's not the case at all."

Anonymous said...

Purchased Belmont Stakes preferred parking today for $50.00 up from last year's $25.00.

The Derby point system has done amazing things for the prep quality and size but at the same time has diminished the need to rush along your 2 year-old. Saratoga couldn't card more than one 2 year-old race per day until August.

Figless said...

Valid point on the point system effect on two year old racing, with graded earning not counted little reason to push the babies, which some will argue is a good thing.

I still detest the system but supposed CD has the right to do what they wish to promote THEIR products and racetracks, which is what this is all about.

IF it were truly about getting the most qualified 20 horses into the gate the point system would based on the Grade of the race, not he timing, or the venue, with double points awarded to Graded races on true dirt at one mile or over and perhaps some bonus points to the last round of traditional Derby preps.

El Angelo said...

There is no perfect system to get horses into the Derby. I do agree with Alan's point that the highest point owner should get some advantage, like first pick in the post position "draft." Otherwise, just guarantee a berth to horses that win certain prep races and have a committee pick the rest.

Anonymous said...

Figless: The point of the point system isn't to pick the 20 best horses, it's to pick the 20th best (most deserving?) horse. It is far, far, far more important for any ranked horse (1-20) to be better than an unranked horse (21+) because the purpose is binary, either you're in or you're out.

It doesn't bother me if the 19th-ranked horse is better than a horse with the most points as long as the 20th-ranked horse is better than the one behind him.

Figless said...

Anon334, understood.

I suppose I could amend my comment to indicate the top 15 will get in regardless of the system, but I assume that was understood as well.

The issue is to sort out the 16 to 20th most qualified, similar to the final qualifiers in the INDY 500.

The system I propose is better than the current system as it places emphasis on horses proven to be successful going two turns on true dirt.

I do believe there will come a day when a potential Derby winner is left on the sidelines, perhaps even a BC Juvenile winner that incurred a minor injury that set back its training, who gets trumped by some Turf horse that runs second in Dubai or in the Blue Grass.

And that would be a shame.