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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Wednesday Morning Notes - Aug 24

- The 7th at Saratoga today is the type of race that has always made us love the place; and these have been unfortunately all too rare this season. It's a wide open allowance race with some classy looking 3 yo fillies from top stables. Patrick Biancone sends out Comacina (Dixie Union), who won impressively in her 3 yo debut at Monmouth last month. She prompted a fleet opening quarter, and then, according to the chart, “moved to the front passing the quarter pole while under a rating hold, drew clear when asked, and was ridden out to the final yard before allowed to coast home.” She was placed very ambitiously last year, as this barn tends to do, running in the Astoria as a maiden, and in the Futurity against colts after her maiden win. But she seems to have come back strong. Comacina faces a tough field today, but picks up Gary Stevens and ran her best race last year at this 7 furlong distance.

- Pari-mutuels in Broward County, Florida got a boost in their effort to install slots as a judge put pressure on the state legislature to establish regulations when he reaffirmed his decision that they have the right to install machines on their own. Still, it’s unlikely, at least for now, that anything will happen.

Track owners say that for now, it's enough that they're working with state lawmakers and Broward County commissioners to draft regulatory guidelines. The likelihood that lawmakers will convene a special session this fall to finish writing regulations is promising enough to keep the parimutuels from immediately bringing in slot machines.

They won't wait forever though, said Tom Julin, a lawyer for the three Broward horse tracks and one jai-alai fronton that won voter approval for slot machines in March.

''I think Dec. 1 is a good sort of outside date,'' Julin said. ``There's only so long you wait.'' [Miami Herald]
In New Orleans, the City Council last week approved Churchill’s plan to install slots at the Fair Grounds, but with severe restrictions and under the close watch of the neighboring community.
The [citizens advisory] committee will meet quarterly to consider any alleged violations of the provisos covering issues such as hours of operation of the slots, police patrols of surrounding neighborhoods, and landscaping, fencing, lighting and signage at the track.

The hours set in the ordinance are the same as those in the zoning petition: 9 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday. Batt had said in June that he hoped Churchill eventually would agree to delay the Sunday opening to 11 a.m., but the ordinance authorizes 10 a.m.
One proviso in the ordinance bans "amplified outdoor sound, including but not limited to live music, recorded music, D.J. services and public address announcements" at the track except during the race season and the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. [Times Picayune]
It’s hard to imagine gamblers in a slots parlor being herded to the exits at midnight! Churchill originally requested a 24 hour operation, and this is quite a concession on their part; but clearly, the company just took whatever they could get, and it sounds like they better be on their best behavior.

- The final report and decision on NYRA’s deferred prosecution has been delayed until September 13, as it was reported that NYRA lost $16 million in 2004.