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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Notes - July 28

- I sometimes get on Paul Moran's case for being a grump, but he's right on in his column today about the problems with the Saratoga opener. In addition to the problems I detailed earlier (and he adds that Purge had to be scratched from yesterday's 8th because the horse became "upset" in the detention barn), he complains about something that I'm glad to see someone other than I'm upset about.

Horseplayers do not accept senseless change stoically. Until yesterday, NYRA was foremost among the few racetrack operators that still publish a traditional, small program - the type favored by most serious horseplayers.

NYRA's was particularly good because it included simulcast tracks. It wasn't broken. It is now. The new version unveiled without fanfare substitutes useless graphic drivel for the other tracks on which NYRA accepts betting. This may be of vague use to novice bettors but not the type who prefers the smaller program. So NYRA has managed to carry its acrimonious relationship with horsemen and its customers and a general level of ineptitude that has become its trademark to the iconic racetrack in the Adirondack foothills that is the soul of American racing. Suddenly, 36 days seem like a very long time. [Newsday]
I've always loved getting that program, and feeling how thick it is with juicy simulcast options. It may seem like a little thing, but as Moran says, it just shows contempt for the fan by suddenly altering a popular product for the worse.

- Only 17 trotters will compete in 2 Hambletonian eliminations Saturday evening to determine 10 finalists, sounds like the NHL season. The two top contestants, Classic Photo and favorite Ken Wakentin go in separate heats, and the Toronto Maple Leafs' Tie Domi owns a piece of the latter.
John Fielding of Toronto, who has been around harness racing a long time, was the colt's first owner, snatching him at a sale for $26,000 (U.S.). Fielding brought in Domi early, along with Christina Takter, the trainer's wife. They later sold half the horse — for potentially a couple of million U.S. dollars — to a Swedish investor who wants to stand the horse at stud in Sweden when his racing days are done. One other suitor had been Mats Sundin, who has had success owning trotters. Sundin, though, hasn't had one potentially as good as this one — which Domi, enjoying his first standardbred, doubtless is kind enough to remind him. [Toronto Star]
- Madcap Escapade retired with a leg injury.

- Today's second is a 2 yo maiden affair for filles. Bill Mott has Serena's Cat, according to the Form a $1.4 million weanling purchase. She's by Storm Cat out of Serena's Tune, a daughter of the great Serena's Song, and his making her debut. Also making her first start is Autumnal, for Tom Albertrani. This $550,000 yearling is by Forestry, out of Maria J, a half to Chekhov, who is one of the possibilities for the Haskell next Sunday.

- I'm off to Day 2 at Saratoga. The Saratoga Public Library is awesome, check it out.