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Friday, February 25, 2005

Friday: On and Off Track Action

- Relatively slow racing weekend coming up; besides the aforementioned Tampa stakes and Gulfstream allowance, the latter the 3 yo debut of Nick Zito's Sun King, third place finisher in the G1 Champagne and BC Juvenile last year, there’s a couple of graded stakes – the 9f Grade 3 Sabin at Gulfstream for 3 & up mares, in which Shug McGaughey’s graded stakes winner Daydreaming (A.P Indy) will make her 4 yo debut; and the 7f Grade 2 San Carlos at Santa Anita, where a couple of the top entrants may not even run. Like last weekend, the Fair Grounds may have the best betting stakes, the grassy Fair Grounds Breeders Cup, and I'll probably come back to that one later for a closer look.

Plenty of interesting off-track action going on however:

- Slots legislation in Maryland expected to be voted on by the House today, with its prospects uncertain. There’s an interesting article in the NY Times today about Maryland Governor Ehrlich, who is the first Republican governor there in three decades and who presides over an otherwise overwhelmingly Democratic state. Ehrlich is pushing to get the slots legislation passed. He’s also been accused of politically motivated mass firings, and one of his key aides (now a former key aide) admitted to spreading false rumors of infidelity by a potential Democratic opponent. He sounds like someone that Karl Rove could be keeping an eye on.

- In an effort to save racing at Portland Meadows in Oregon, a bill has been introduced at track owner Magna’s request to permit simulcasting year-round; it’s currently only permitted when the track is open, and Magna is threatening to pull out unless that is remedied. They’ve already pulled the plug on dog racing for 2005 at Multnomah Greyhound Park, and lawsuits are underway from both sides. Our friends at Oregon Racing News ( have more stories on the situation; check them out and let’s hope everything there turns out OK.

- A jury in Rhode Island failed to reach a verdict on bribery charges against two executives (now former executives) of Lincoln Park. They were accused of conspiring to pay Daniel McKinnon,the track’s general counsel, $4 million which, it was alleged, was meant as a bribe to the attorney’s law partner, who just happened to be the Speaker of the Rhode Island House, in an attempt to facilitate approval of slots for the track, as well as to block approval of competing gambling sites. The defendants claimed they were merely rewarding the attorney, who did not accept the payment and was not charged, for his good work. It remains to be seen if the defendants will be retried.

- BACK ON TRACK, Rockport Harbor had his long awaited workout at Oaklawn this morning, after his recovery from a bruised foot:

According to Fox Hill owner Rick Porter, Rockport Harbor broke off at the three-quarter pole under jockey Willie Martinez and was a little rank early due to the lack of serious work in the last two weeks.

"His fractions were a little faster than we wanted in the beginning, but he finally settled," Porter said. "John (Servis) would have rather he gone slower early and finished up better but it was a very good work. He went in fractions of :11 4/5, :23 3/5, :35 4/5, :48 3/5, 1:01 2/5, 1:14 and 1:27 2/5. He galloped out a mile in 1:41 and came back great. He didn't take any water for 10 minutes." [Bloodhorse]