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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Conflicts of Interest - On and Off Track

- James Odato, in the Albany Times Union today, writes of some possible links between bidders for the New York franchise and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who is widely believed to be around 1-9 to be the governor of the state when the issue is finally decided. We mentioned previously the mysterious bidder WNY Gaming, about which no one knows a thing about. Odato reports that the group is represented by a lawyer named Tim Toohey, who is the father of Spitzer's campaign manager. (The elder Toohey was also recently convicted of tax fraud, but he says that he's only a representative of the company...which you'd think would want to put a better public face on their anonymous fact, what are they thinking about!?)

Also, Stuart Shorenstein, one of the top lobbyists for MGM Grand, a logical partner for NYRA, is a campaign contributor to the likely governor-to-be.

With his wife, Janice, and others living at his address, Shorenstein has contributed heavily to Spitzer -- more than $29,600 since 2001.

Christine Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Spitzer campaign, said the candidate would deal independently on who gets the racing franchise regardless of ties to bidders. [Albany Times Union]
A commenter to the previous post has some harsh comments about Delaware North's administration of racing at the Finger Lakes.
Finger Lakes purse structure and disgusting stable conditions make this a big red flag. They increased purses only marginally in the beginning and not a penny since and have not put a dime into the back side. The Racino is very nice, and concessions superior to NYRA, but when you arrive you are forced to walk through the casino to get to the track, ughhh!
One would hope that the presence of the horsemen in the partnership would ensure that they're taken care of in terms of both purse monies and backstretch conditions; but this does, once again, highlight the fact that corporations will naturally put the most priority into that which generates the most cash.

- I don't mean to be a bummer, but these latest developments on Barbaro's condition are ominous. When Dr. Richardson says that the situation is "potentially serious, and we are aggressively seeking all treatment options," it makes me feel as if we should start to prepare for the worst. In Maryland, they were still looking backwards yesterday, as officials gathered to once again dissect the tapes of that awful day. "We agreed unanimously that the evidence is inconclusive," said chairman John P. McDaniel.... We found no untoward action taken by any jockey or horse to cause Barbaro to have a broken right hind leg." [Baltimore Sun] And why don't we just leave it at that.

In Illinois, state officials are trying to prevent more breakdowns by launching a thorough investigation into why 17 horses have broken down at Arlington thus far this year. Although the track passed an inspection by an outside consultant, it remains the prime suspect.
"The only common denominator is that the horses were running on the same track, and I think that's something we need to look into," [Racing Board Commissioner John] Simon said. He conceded the possibility, as Arlington officials have maintained, that the cluster of breakdowns may be a statistical anomaly. [Chicago Tribune]
One local trainer, Christine Janks, writes in Bloodhorse that there may be a conflict between what's best for her colleagues and for the horses that pay their bills.
The Illinois Racing Board needs new rules and stricter standards to ensure that only racing-sound horses are going to the post. The track has a conflict of interest in that it needs to fill races by encouraging entries. Many practicing veterinarians simply do what the trainer says if they want to keep their jobs. Jockeys do not want to scratch horses and lose business, either.

The horses are running for their lives, and who is there to protect them? In many cases, training is big business and horsemanship is secondary to promotion. Get one more race out of them, drop them down, and get them claimed. If they break down, fill the stall the next day with another young face. Do we really think that we can grow the business of racing by making these marvelous animals just part of the equipment?

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Too many tracks, too many racing days, not enough quality horses to go around. This was bound to happen sooner than later. There is a solution, but the industry would never stand for it. Artificial insemination, breed twice as many to a stallion. Lowers the value of the foals. Would this be a bad idea? Might make racing a horse more profitable than breeding one. Put the emphasis back on developing racehorses and not breeding stock syndicates. And a Scott Lake can go get another one, but the little trainer who makes up a big portion of the racing in the country on a daily basis doesnt have the same attitude. They need their horses.