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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

News and Notes - Nov 9

No real fireworks at Keeneland on day 2 of their November sale, with the average price down 20% from last year’s second day. Still, four mares sold for a million or more, and the winning bidder for session topper Win’s Fair Lady (in foal to Giant’s Causeway) admitted that "We had to stretch ourselves a little at $2.2-million.” [Thoroughbred Times] The consensus appears to be that they’re not the only ones to stretch.

"My sense is that this sale doesn't have quite the quality of last year's catalog," Overbrook Farm advisor Ric Waldman said, "but that doesn't matter if buyers are willing to spend more dollars this year, and that seems to be the case."
"It's a very tough market to buy in," said breeder and seller Ben Walden Jr….. "The valuation of stock is much higher than we thought it would be. A mare you think will bring $200,000 will bring $350,000, and there seems to be abundant energy for this part of the market." [Daily Racing Form]
Glint in Her Eye (Arazi), who sold for $1.05 million, is a half-sister to undefeated Japanese sensation Deep Impact, and is in foal to Empire Maker

- The chairman of the Maryland Racing Commission has set a December 1 deadline for Magna and the state’s horsemen to agree on a live racing schedule, lest the commission decide for them. "The commission is serious and mad as hell," [commission member Terry] Saxon said. [Thoroughbred Times] You may recall that Magna had announced a drastic cut from 220 to 112 days, in addition to their intention to shut the training center at Bowie. There had been speculation that the sides would agree on a number between 150 and 180, and that Bowie would remain open. However, now it appears that Magna is employing a negotiating tactic of making such an agreement contingent on the horsemen resuming a contribution towards simulcasting expenses, the agreement for which expired last year.
"It was only when [Magna] introduced expense sharing that [an agreement] didn't happen," said [Maryland Thoroughbred Horseman's Association lawyer Alan] Foreman...

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in the discussion is that Magna wants the horsemen and breeders not only to contribute to expenses going forward, but also reimburse it for the last year, when no agreement was in place. [Baltimore Sun]
- As all the parties in Pennsylvania await word from the Harness Racing Commission of their explanation for rejecting both applicants for a track in Western Pennsylvania, the posturing and political maneuvering is well under way. State Senator Mike Veon wrote to Governor Rendell:
"I want to be very clear......I am not going to stand by quietly while race tracks (in) the Philadelphia region and the rest of the state get a slot license and a free pass to an economic boom while politics and the members of the Harness Racing Commission destroy this economic development opportunity, thousands of jobs and a better future of our area in the west." [Beaver County Times Online]
OK, so let’s get this straight. Slot license = free pass to economic boom? Just like that? Dan Donatella, the Commissioner of Beaver County, one of the two counties competing for that free pass to an economic utopia, made no qualms in letting the governor know that it’s payback time.
Donatella was requesting a personal visit with Rendell, who received early support from Donatella in his first run for governor when other Democrats championed Bob Casey Jr.

On Monday, Donatella recalled how Rendell, who's up for re-election next year, threw his support behind gambling in Beaver County during a campaign stop here in 2001, and Donatella didn't seem inclined to let the governor forget that commitment any time soon.

"Too much is on the table for us to not play every card we have to play.....If we do nothing else in this term ... we've got to pull all the strings we can." [Times Online]
Of course, even if the commission were to relent and award the state's last remaining track license to one of the applicants, there’s no guarantee that Donatella’s county would win the license over the applicant from Lawrence County. What strings would he pull then?

While these parties wage a desperate battle for the right to operate a harness track with slots in Pennsylvania, Magna announced that it is selling the Meadows, and that they lost $34.5 million in the third quarter.

- Voters in Maine rejected a referendum initiated by conservative Christian groups that would have repealed the state’s gay-rights law, making Maine the sixth and final state in New England to put such a law on the books. [Portland Press Herald] A group opposing slots in the state had aligned themselves with the anti-gay forces in a failed attempt to obtain enough signatures to force a referendum to repeal the law allowing slots at near Bangor Raceway. They can now commiserate together and curse the evil liberals responsible for this idea of equal rights for all men and women. Perhaps a night at Hollywood Slots could ease the pain.