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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Thursday Notes - July 21

- The NTRA couldn't rally its member tracks to get behind the Thoroughbred Championship Tour (TCT), which could have added continuity and order to the racing season for the casual or prospective fan, particularly during the period between the Triple Crown and Breeders Cup when much of the general public other than those at Del Mar or Saratoga barely know that the sport exists. But do not fear, the NTRA is still on duty. Today, in conjunction with the Breeders Cup, they made this exciting announcement: The complete race order for the 22nd Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, will be announced on Wednesday, Oct. 19, when the Pre-Entered fields for all eight races are released. The Classic - Powered By Dodge will, of course, be last.

Since the Breeders' Cup is the greatest betting day in all of sports, we would like to present our fans with the highest caliber wagering card possible by providing a race order that we believe will generate the largest pools and potentially greater payouts than ever before." said Ken Kirchner, NTRA senior vice president of product development. [Bloodhorse]
Well, that's really worth a headline in the trades. Now the casual fan will know a few days in advance exactly when the races featuring horses they've never heard of because there's nothing like the TCT or standings in the sports section will be. Outstanding.

- Afleet Alex was on the track at Belmont this morning, getting a mile in 1:36 3/5.
"He started out easy and he finished well," trainer Tim Ritchey said. "He came out of it good, cooled out fine, no problem. The clockers said they got him in :25 and change for the opening quarter and around :49 4/5 for the half. He's put on probably 100 pounds. I mean he has really blossomed; it's amazing. You can't believe how he's filled out." [Bloodhorse]
- The investigation into the whereabouts of Wild Desert before his Queen's Plate win will not effect the purse distribution of the race. "Wild Desert met the criteria here," said [Woodbine steward Gunnar] Lindberg. "The problem isn't with us, he met the conditions to race here." [Toronto Star] He just needed to have one listed 3f workout in lieu of a race in the prior 30 days.

- The only numbers from the Fasig Tipton yearling sale that seem to be up from last year are the number of horses offered and the buyback rate. Even with 37% more horses in the catalog, the gross still declined, leading to speculation that supply is outstripping demand, a trend that could continue.
"We've clearly saturated the market," said Bayne Welker, director of sales and stallion marketing at Mill Ridge Farm near Lexington.

Part of the reason, Welker believes, is that the thoroughbred breeding industry has recovered from the effects of Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome, the illness that hit Central Kentucky in 2001 and, to a smaller extent, in 2002.
An upcoming yearling auction in Ocala, Fla., has 1,498 horses listed for sale, a 23 percent increase from last year and the most since at least 2001.

And while Keeneland still is compiling entries for its September sale, spokesman Jim Williams said the company expects to have close to the record number offered last year.

"I don't think there's anything in the marketplace that indicates that there's more end users, so we're going to keep running into this," Welker said. [Louisville Courier-Journal]
- Further details of the deal to facilitate the sale of Rhode Island's Lincoln Park are emerging, and the reaction is: Extraordinary. Unique. Unheard of in the gambling industry. This refers to the eleventh-hour commitment that will have the state compensate the track and racino for any "slippage" caused by the opening of a proposed Harrah's casino.
The promise was made amid suggestions by some lawmakers that Harrah's -- not the state -- would pick up the tab.

But Jan Jones, the former Las Vegas mayor who has been the face of Harrah's in Rhode Island, says don't count on it. "That is not something we have offered. It is not something we expect to do. And it is not something that was represented to us by leadership.

"They said that slippage would be the state's issue, not Harrah's issue," said Jones yesterday.
An analysis provided by House Fiscal Adviser Michael O'Keefe yesterday indicates the state could end up paying BLB out of its own share of the track revenue anywhere from $55.3 million, if the losses are modest, to $282.2 million over eight years if the initial losses to the casino are more severe. [Providence Journal]
- Jay Cronley, on, writes:
Note to gamblers who bet historical trends: Are you completely out of your minds? Are you that bad at thinking for yourselves?
Note to Jay Cronley: Shut up. Are you that good that you can totally ridicule other bettors for their betting strategies? I actually don't totally disagree with him - I think people do sometimes get carried away betting, for example, a trainer with a first time starter at Saratoga just because he might have popped a couple 2 years ago. Nonetheless, some trends are worth noting, especially at "boutique" meetings like the Spa, and anyway I bristle when I read one of these guys giving us a condescending attitude like this. If he was so great, he wouldn't have to spend his time writing columns to show how much smarter than us he is. He also writes: Note to problem gamblers: doubt a single reader skipped ahead to the next item.... " Wrong, moron, I'm skipping ahead to the subway soon in case the cops want to rummage through my bag. What a world.