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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Notes - May 18

- Evangeline Downs announced that it will close until June 30 in order to completely renovate the track surface at a cost of $1.5 million.

Evangeline Downs officials say that they have put a lot of effort into the racing business, and denied the perception that they have focused on the casino more.

"Purses were going downhill until the slots improved the quality," said Evangeline Downs Director of Racing Operations David Yount. "There's no question that the casino has helped, but there's also no question that we put horse racing first."

"Racing is the heart and soul of our body," said Swain. "This is a race track that just happens to have slots." [Daily Advertiser]

- Thanks to reader cookie jill for sending this link regarding the suspected use of Viagra to dope horses in Italy. I love the headline “Viagra-fueled Italian stallions seized by police.”
It was not clear how Viagra affected the horses' speed.
Perhaps it provides help to some colts involved in close photos? Could give a whole new meaning to expressions like “won by a long head.”

- Bill Finley writes on that you're better off watching the 1941 Preakness on ESPN Classic than the live race.
It's hard to imagine anything too scintillating happening in Saturday's 130th edition of the Preakness. Not with a Kentucky Derby winner in Giacomo who generates virtually no excitement or buzz. Not with his challengers largely composed of a group of overmatched new shooters and horses who are coming into the race after throwing in a dud in the Derby.
With all due respect to Finley, who I’ve enjoyed reading for many years, I couldn’t disagree with him more on this one. Giacomo’s upset win has generated front-page news and interest from fans and novices alike. Read what Matt Graves writes today: It's fair to say that I have received as many e-mails and phone calls after last week's column [in which he called Giacomo ‘unworthy’] as I ever have since the dawning of cyberspace. [Albany Times-Union] Finley can watch his tape of Britney and Kevin: Chaotic if he’s not interested. Personally, I find this edition of the Preakness to be fascinating – I think we’re all keen to see whether or not the Derby winner can indeed replicate his performance; and with a full field and the publicity over lottery-sized payoffs in the Derby, I suspect that we could see record handle and solid ratings for NBC.

- I’m really wondering what either side sees in the granting of a license to Magna to build and operate a new racetrack in Detroit. With all of Magna’s whining about the lack of slots in Maryland, why would they want to build a track in another state with no slots…and one that is further away from them than in a state that came close to passing legislation this year? And given Magna’s record of losing money, mismanaging tracks, and their apparent backing away from their stated commitment to racing in Maryland with or without slots, what were Michigan’s racing officials thinking about?

- Frank Stronach's daughter Belinda is a key figure in Canada’s Liberal Party’s desperate efforts to stay in power despite an ongong scandal. Read about that here.

- Here’s Craig Dollase using the bleeding excuse for Wilko again: "[Giacomo] got a good trip that day, and our horse was hampered by the bleeding.” [Courier-Journal] Which is it, Craig? He either had a legit excuse, or it was no big deal, as you told the Form. Why should we now buy all the other excuses we’ve heard on this colt’s behalf?

- More on Giacomo’s work yesterday:
Giacomo started slowly, tooling off fractions of 131/5, 261/5 and 39 and galloping out five-eighths of a mile in 1:054/5.

"He's feeling good," Shirreffs said. "(Monday) he was full of life. When I went to throw the rider up, he kind of 'cow-kicked' at him. So there were a lot of little indications that he'd be OK." [Courier-Journal]