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Thursday, June 29, 2006

News and Notes - June 29

- Another win off the layoff for Bobby Frankel at Belmont on Wednesday; he sent out Cotton King to win in his first race since September on Saturday, and on Wednesday, Sir Halory (Unbridled) upset favored Dr. Pleasure in his first effort since graduating on his 4th try at Churchill last November. Sir Halory is a half-brother to Halory Hunter and I bet against him at 4-5 at Saratoga last year (though I didn’t have the winner, Nolan’s Cat).

John Ward’s public choice was close early in the mile race, then dropped back to last, though just a few lengths off. He was forced to make a four wide move around the turn, while Rudy Rodriguez on Sir Halory, last early, saved all the ground. As Dr. Pleasure started to hang midstretch, Sir Halory was “crying for running room” according to Tom Durkin, and finally found it. He got up to win late, as the race kinda fell apart in the last quarter mile, which went in 26.60, after an opening six furlongs in 1:09.75, as Dr. Pleasure faded to third. It was the third winner of the day for jockey Rodriguez.

And here’s another nice-looking horse from Darley; Burmilla was an $850,000 yearling purchase. She's a daughter of Storm Cat, out of the graded stakes winner Nannerl, and I posted about her when she won her only prior effort at Gulfstream in January. Here, in her return, she brushed off a challenge on the turn, and drew off to win by six under a busy ride by Garrett Gomez. Perhaps we’ll see her in the Darley Test at Saratoga – that’s right, the Test has picked up a sponsor this year.

- They’re apparently, and finally, off and racing towards slots in Pennsylvania. The Gaming Control Board agreed on awarding licenses to suppliers when board member Jeffrey Coy, satisfied that the suppliers represented a sufficient diversity of location and ethnicity, finally relented on his demand that the suppliers be limited to one of two regions. With a 90-day waiting period in place before the actual gambling licenses can be awarded, the state is on track to start issuing them this fall. Racetracks will be first, and licenses for standalone casinos are expected to be awarded by the end of the year. Chairman Tad Decker said: "We're hoping four of six tracks are going to be up and running -- some by the end of this year, some early next year." [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]

Still, there’s uncertainty in the legislature about a bill, passed by the Senate, that would eliminate the suppliers altogether. Though many feel that the suppliers provision was designed to benefit companies with political connections, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that most of the companies with political heavyweights....were not licensed yesterday. The bill, whose fate in the House is uncertain, also contains a provision to increase the tax rate, already considered to be high at 51%, on casino owners by 4%. Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, located near Wilkes-Barre in northeastern Pennsylvania, has said a tax increase could lead it to rethink its plans to build a slots casino. [AP]