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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Front Page

- Picked up the NY Times this morning, let’s see. The president nominates as ambassador to the U.N. a man with an extremely bad mustache who is known for his animosity towards the organization and who once said “there’s no such thing as the United Nations.” Nothing unusual there. The CEO of Boeing, brought in to replace the prior executive who was dismissed for, among other things, having affairs with employees, is dismissed for having an affair with an employee. Uh-huh, what else is new? Terror suspects able to buy guns legally. Welcome to the U.S. of N.R.A.

But what’s this, a picture of Marylou Whitney overlooking a racetrack? A story on our favorite game on the front page of the paper of record a full two months before the Kentucky Derby? Yes, indeed; it’s a sprawling piece by Joe Drape, however it’s not the kind of article that’s going to attract any new fans. In fact, I had a hard time getting through it myself to be honest (perhaps it was that Boeing story) so you’ll have to look elsewhere for any meaningful discussion of it. It’s ostensibly about an odd alliance between Ms. Whitney and Frank Stronach in a quest to “save” the sport in NY, but it’s rather rambling and never really makes its point in my opinion. And when I read the part about Gulfstream and Mr. Stronach’s vision of a multipurpose, entertainment destination-a prototype for what he hopes to create in New York, it makes me want to take up Texas Fold ‘em instead. Now, maybe if the article was about the two of them having an affair, starting a terrorist group called “No Such Thing as NYRA,” and amassing an arsenal of assault weapons, then you’d have something!

- Ms. Whitney mentions in the piece how she kept rather than sell Birdstone, and that his $10,000 stud fee makes him affordable to smaller breeders. The Belmont and Travers winner got his first mare in foal, way to go. And Mr. Stronach’s Magna announced a major executive shakeup, explaining that at this point in our development, we need to focus on financial and operating discipline at many of our operations. [Magna press release] No kidding.

- Wednesday will be an anxious one for the slots industry in Pennsylvania; with slots already signed into law and the machinery to make it a reality creaking forward, the state Supreme Court will hear arguments to overturn the law on procedural grounds, contending that the way the bill was pushed into law violated the state constitution.

On the slots law, opponents point to the insertion of a 145-page amendment into what had been a one-page bill dealing with background checks of horse-track employees during its final reading in the Senate.

They argue the change violated rules barring sweeping changes to a bill's "original purpose." The rules require each piece of legislation to have a single subject. []
A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs is considered unlikely, but it would send everyone back to the drawing board to pass a legislative fix. A similar situation is still effecting expansion of slots in New York State, where a court ruled that the part of the law allowing VLT funds to flow into purses is unconstitutional; the NY legislature hasn’t gotten around to providing a solution as of yet.

- Saw an odd article about Monmouth Park, stating that there will be no night racing there this year. I didn’t know that was a possibility, and I’m rather astonished that it would even be considered. Monmouth is one of the prettiest tracks you’ll ever see, and my summer feels incomplete if I haven’t made at least a couple of trips there to enjoy a sunny day of racing; and besides, attendance there in 2004 averaged a bit over 9,000 a day, up 4.2% from the previous year. So let’s hope this is the first and last time I ever read about this.

- And in Maine, there’s a bill ready to deal with confidentiality issues raised by Penn National with respect to their forthcoming racino there, and you’ll be happy to know that Publicly available information will remain public. [Bangor Daily News] Not small news these days really, given the way the present administration strives to keep any information unflattering to them under wraps.

- Thanks as usual to Albany Law School Racing and Gaming Page for their many links, without which I just wouldn’t have the time for all this. And feel free to email with comments or questions.

- Oh yeah, almost forgot. Here's that mustache (the one on the guy). Told ya it was bad.