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Monday, March 14, 2005

Beating Around the Bus(c)h

- The two biggest slots battleground states presently are Florida and Maryland, and the main obstacles there are named Bush and Busch; Jeb, the Governor of Florida, and Michael, the Speaker of the Maryland House. On Friday, the Maryland Senate officially rejected the more restrictive slots bill passed by the House, and Busch said the Senate's action effectively ends the chances for slots this year.

“The Senate of Maryland has been the biggest promoter of slots. They had the chance to embrace a bill that would be supported by the administration and signed into law," Busch said. "They missed their opportunity."
If the two chambers wanted to reconcile the two bills, normally they would appoint a committee to negotiate. But Busch said he sees no reason to appoint one. [Baltimore Sun, via Newsday]
Even the new competition presented by a plan among neighboring slots states Delaware, West Virginia, and Rhode Island to combine their slots revenue into a giant jackpot leaves Busch unfazed.
"It is just an example of the desperation that occurs when governments start to predicate their budgets on slots revenue." [Washington Times]
Bush is a Republican, while Busch is a Democrat. Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich, who is pushing for the slots, is a Republican, as is NY governor George Pataki. Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, who signed slots into law there, is a Democrat. This issue cuts across party lines, and in the end comes down to a mix of personal views and political expediency, with the latter likely getting the nod. Pataki was no big advocate of gambling until the NY budget defecit became hopeless, now he is pushing for five casinos in upstate New York in addition to slots at racetracks and stand-alone venues as well. Bush might talk a tough game now when he says that he has consistently opposed efforts to expand or increase gambling in Florida because it has a negative impact on the social fabric and economic health of our state." But according to Sun-Sentinal columnist Michael Mayo, this has not always been the case.
If there were a jackpot for hypocrisy, the governor would win it.

Because Bush has presided over the growth of the biggest and worst sucker's bet of all: the Florida Lottery.

When Bush took office in January 1999, the Florida Lottery held one weekly Lotto game and five Fantasy 5 drawings a week.

Under his watch, the Lottery has expanded to two weekly Lotto games and a Fantasy 5 drawing every night. It also has added two weekly Megaball drawings. Then there are the nightly Play 4 and Cash 3 games, which pay winning bettors only half of what the odds truly are.

...The Lottery's Web site lists 61 scratch-off games currently available, including slots-themed games such as Casino Royale, Lucky 7s, Emerald Green 7s, Red Hot 7s, and Lots of Luck.

These are available at almost every corner store and supermarket in the state, in the poorest of poor neighborhoods. Lottery games are aggressively marketed and advertised.

The Web site profile of Florida Lottery Secretary Rebecca Mattingly says she was appointed in March 2003 because "she understands and shares the governor's vision of slow and steady growth for the Florida Lottery." [Sun-Sentinal]
Whatsmore, the Lottery is just a bad deal for bettors.
"If you go to a destination gambling facility, slot machines return up to 93 percent of the money bet," said Dan Adkins, the Hollywood Greyhound Track executive who spearheaded the slots movement. "The lottery pays back only 50 percent."
As long as he keeps growing the worst game in town, Gov. Bush should spare us the sanctimonious sermons about the evils of expanded gambling and just give us what we voted for. [Sun-Sentinal]

- Owner Marty Wygod was pretty direct when asked about Sweet Catomine’s next start after she took the Santa Anita Oaks at Santa Anita yesterday.
"We'll run in the Santa Anita Derby, to see if she can prove to us that she deserves to run in the Kentucky Derby," he said. "If she runs the right race at Santa Anita, then we'll consider Kentucky." [LA Times]
Sweet Catomine (Storm Cat) and her rider Corey Nakatani had to survive a claim of foul; afterwards, the riders involved had somewhat different views of the incident.
"Tyler [Baze on Cream Donut Keith] was in a little tight and Pat [Valenzuela on Charming Colleen] came out a little bit," Nakatani said. "Fortunately, the stewards did the right thing and left her number up."

That was not how Baze saw the incident.

"Going around the turn (Nakatani) has 20 lengths the best horse and he (bleeping) shuts me off," Baze said. [SignOnSanDiego]

- Baffert says that Roman Ruler, still trying to make his 2005 debut, will do so Saturday in the San Felipe, unless it rains, in which case he would ship to NY for the Gotham. Wilko is also aiming for the San Felipe, and he worked 7f in 1:28 yesterday, and rider Nakatani commented
"He probably ran better than that (1:28). He went easy in the beginning and then I let him kick like he's going to run in his race. The key is to let him finish like :23 and a tick. That's the way he's supposed to do it. He's on go." [Bloodhorse]

- He’s in, he’s out, he’s in, he’s out….now Rockport Harbor is in (maybe) for the Rebel at Oaklawn Saturday.
Servis said a tender spot was discovered on the foot Saturday morning and "something was trying to come out."

Servis said the foot was treated Saturday with animalintex, a poultice dressing used to draw out infection in wounds. "Once it pops, it’s going to be a lot better," Servis said. "Within 24, 48 hours, he’ll probably be 100 percent."

Rockport Harbor, who missed two days of training with a bruised left front foot last month, hasn’t been to the track since Friday. "He’s not going to be 100 percent [fit] for this race, no matter what," Servis said. "I think we can get pretty close to the race and still get away with it. [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]
Regardless of whether he makes it or not, Oaklawn is preparing for a big crowd Saturday. How do they know?
Oaklawn had trouble booking a hotel room for the Beulah Park handicapping twins, Katie Ward and Jenna Wheeler (eight minutes older), who also appeared at Oaklawn for last year’s Rebel Day.[Ark Democrat Gazette]
I imagine they'd find room somewhere if it was the Bush twins instead.