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Thursday, June 15, 2006

News and Notes - June 16

- Fellow bloggers John and Scoop pointed out in the comments section that the timeframe for the New York bidding process is not really short as far as RFP's go. Indeed, I looked up some other RFP’s on the internet, and the two months until the August 15 deadline is actually rather generous. It was also pointed out that the bidders have pretty much known what to expect and should have no problem putting their packages together; after all, there were no real surprises in the request.

My concern is really more about the mere one month that the committee has to decide. For one thing, I guess we can forget about public hearings. And is that really enough time to fully evaluate the bids and make a truly informed choice? Given the reality that the government is not going to act for many months to come anyway, why force a decision far sooner than is necessary?

I'd also be curious to know whether, with the bidders required to make their intentions known by June 30, the marriages of partners have all been consummated, or whether there is last-minute jockeying going on. I’ve seen Churchill Downs mentioned as a possible partner for NYRA. But Empire Racing Associates has said that it has lined up a partner with significant racing experience. Delaware North, the operator of Finger Lakes, perhaps? And who knows who else could pop up – Penn National, Trump, Isle of Capri, hell, maybe Bill Gates sees a bright future here. Or how about the Kingdom of Dubai? Paul Moran of Newsday says: Magna Entertainment, also insolvent, is probably a non-starter. We hope that he's right about that.

There’s one thing about this process that I don’t understand however. How is the committee to pick a single bidder in September if the fate of the state’s racing laws and the status of the OTBs won’t be known, probably until the last day of the 2007 legislative session? (I think you could probably take that to the bank; I’d like to check out the futures on that one.)

Bidders are allowed to bid on all or just some of the three different scenarios regarding the laws. So, say that there are six bidders, three are bidding only on scenario #2, and three only on #3. How could they then select just one of them? And even if that circumstance seems extreme, won’t they still have to have some kind of contingency selection almost no matter how it shakes out unless they all bid across the board? What if the laws don't end up changing much, but the nominee hadn't submitted an offer for that possibility?

Moran also wrote that NYRA is least likely to be successful and is without the funds necessary to wage a long legal battle over the property. But NYRA’s CEO Charles Hayward came out scrappy as usual, and asserted

“At the end of the day, the nature of running a track and, perhaps more importantly on the resolution of the land claim, we're going to be formidable.''
Hayward said potential partners include gaming companies such as MGM Mirage, its partner in installing video lottery terminals at Aqueduct, and tote firms
[Albany Times Union]
- Trainer David Donk has sent out, on the grass, three horses off layoffs of 180 or more days at this Belmont meeting; all three of them have won. On Friday, the first twilight card of the Belmont meeting, he sends out Haze My Man on the turf in the sixth, a state-bred allowance, for his first start since Dec 1. It’s also first-time-Donk for the six year-old gelding (with only five lifetime starts), which was also the case with Peg’s Prayer, one of the barn’s layoff winners.

This horse showed excellent form on the grass in 2005, his first one at the races. He ran in three state-bred maiden races, losing by a nose and then a head before graduating last fall. His last race was an up-the-track in an off-the-turfer at the Big A. He’s 5-1 morning line, but that seems on the high side; Donk’s other winners have paid 9-2, 7-2, and 2-1. Haze My Man is by Husband, the Rothmans International winner standing in Virginia for $1000, out of a Rokeby mare by the Belmont winner Summing. The second and third dams, Weatherwise and Christmas Wind, are Rokeby-bred as well, and the latter produced the durable handicap star Winter’s Tale, who, in 1980, when there was no Breeders’ Cup and NYRA still hosted a ‘fall championship season’ which was truly just that, won the old Marlboro Cup, the Brooklyn, and the Suburban for trainer Mack Miller and jockey Jeffrey Fell. (Though it must be said that Spectacular Bid won Horse of the Year honors in 1980, and ran only once, out of eight races (all wins)in New York, that being his walkover in the Woodward, for which Winters Tale was scratched with injury.)


Anonymous said...

Do not know if you meant the Dubai comment as a joke, but I have heard some backstretch rumors that they will be getting involved somehow. Expanding their presence in the USA in racing, breeding and other ventures (see port acquisition). Would not be the worst result as they clearly would put full emphasis on racing as opposed to gaming and have the deep pockets to fund the bid.

Anonymous said...

Appreciate the heads up on Donk's charge in the 6th, appears a tough heat with another returnee Cranky Pants going to be very tough and Banrock eligible to bounce back.

Any inside info from the Turner barn on Bagavond in the 4th? Looks tough on paper turning back, almost single worthy to begin a small P6 ticket (really a P5 with Sweet Symphony in the feature).

Alan Mann said...

I did mean the Dubai comment as a joke, but what you say makes perfect sense.

I haven't heard anything special about Bagavond....but I don't recall Cornelio Velasquez riding for Turner of late. Careful, this trainer is 1 for his last 65.

Alan Mann said...

Speaking of that pick six today, Asmussen has a nice looking turf returnee in the 7th named Penny's Dream; looks like a helluva 35K claim last year. But according to Formulator, this trainer has won with only 1 180 day + layoff horse on the grass in 33 attempts in the last five years. On the dirt, he hits with 15% in that layoff category.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Good point on Turner, going to cover Donk's charge HEIGHTS also, hot barn as you wrote above.

7th is particularly tough to figure from a P6 stand point, do I have the guts to single Frankel? If not feel I have to go very deep as can not figure who the logical spoiler will be. Right now leaning toward the single in this heat and hope for the best, hopefully this girl can do as Cacique did on Belmont day.

Right now, pending scratches that are still not posted, the $72 ticket is:

2-5/1-3-6/4-7-8/9/5/10 and a first timer starter to be determined in the finale.

Will play a $1 P4 covering all the first timers in the finale;


Alan H. said...

By telling the bidders to assume that the State owns the racetracks, the committee is greatly understating a significant legal issue that may take years to sort out. It seems that both the State and the NYRA have decent arguments for their positions and it will inevitably go to court.

Anonymous said...

Winter's Tale was great. Any horse that could win those races with Jeff Fell riding had to be.

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