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Thursday, November 29, 2007

News, Notes, and Damn Shame

- The IRS has backed off on its absurd $1.6 billion claim against NYRA; that according to Paul Post, reporting for the Thoroughbred Times. The final settlement could be anywhere from $2-million to $15-million. Also, the bankruptcy court has approved the association's latest reorganization plan. That puts the ball squarely in the court of the creditors (likely to approve a plan which pays them 100 cents on the dollar) and the state legislature, specifically, Senate Republicans and their fearless leader Joe Bruno. The two sides are reportedly in negotiations, and Post reports that a Senate spokesman said a deal should be struck by mid-December.

Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, said, “The Senate majority realizes that racing is at a critical juncture in New York state, and as part of our ongoing dialogue on this issue we will be reviewing NYRA’s latest filings. We continue to have discussions with the governor’s office to achieve a final resolution that ensures a quality product for racing fans and is in the best interests of taxpayers.”
That's a softer tone than previous statements coming out of the Senate Majority Leader's office, and further indication to this observer that the gates will open for the first race of the year at 12:30 PM on January 1. I wonder if NYRA has had those calendars printed up as of yet.

- Apprentice jockey Jose Bracetty has had his license revoked by the NY State Racing and Wagering Board
Bracetty was arrested Sunday in Nassau County after reported domestic dispute, charged with one felony count of assault "with intent to commit injury with a weapon." Bracetty, a native of Puerto Rico, was previously arrested Oct. 10 for third-degree criminal mischief. [NY Post]
And here we go again. Bracetty has been arrested and charged - twice. However, under the criminal justice system, that doesn't as of yet make him guilty of anything. However, the Board "determined that his experience, character and general fitness were inconsistent with the public interest and best interests of racing." But when Kentucky investigators found cobra venom in Patrick Biancone's barn, New York and every other racing jurisdiction did absolutely nothing and permitted him full access, that despite the man's damning prior record of suspensions and violations. Was his continued presence "consistent with the public interest and best interests of racing?" I continue to not understand how that situation was handled.

- While the common wisdom for racinos thus far has always been the more the merrier, Gulfstream's plan to revitalize its dormant slots revenue is to cut back the number of VLT's from 1200 to 516, and add about 300 video poker machines. Perhaps Frankie can sell off the rest of the VLT's to help cover MEC's debts.
The plan: Change the first-floor casino to a half-casino, half horse-racing lounge. Add a dozen new versions of video poker, and swap out other, less-popular machines for more penny and two-cent slots. Once all the changes are complete in mid-December, the casino will have about 825 slot machines and video poker games divided between the second-floor casino and the redone, first-floor lounge-casino.

''We're going to blow the socks off people in terms of video poker offerings,'' said Steve Calabro, corporate vice president of gaming for Magna Entertainment.... ``Instead of having 1,200 games on the floor, we're going to have 850 of the best ones out there. . . . We're going for quality versus quantity.''
Calabro said the casino changes will help ``marry horse racing fans with video poker slots players.'' [Miami Herald]
The paper reports that the track's latest daily take per machine figure, since July, is $81, as opposed to $167 for Mardi Gras Racetrack and Gaming Center and $213 for The Isle at Pompano Park. An amazing disparity, I must say. Always good to see an attempt to involve slots players in the racing, so where the heck are the Horse Wizard machines?

Gulfstream is also joining the lawsuit to invalidate Governor Crist's compact agreement with the Seminoles that would give the tribe exclusive rights to blackjack and baccarat.

- Having fabricated his resume, gained the trust of the Jockeys Guild only to betray them and fleece the organization for his own personal enrichment (and that of his friends and family), allowed the organization's insurance policy to lapse without informing the members, and brazenly stealing money on the day he was being fired, Wayne Gertmenian is heading the creditors' committee with respect to the Guild's bankruptcy. He is claiming that he and his Matrix Capital Associates are owed over $1 million. Man, it's a great country, ain't it? As Graeme Downs, the songwriter for the legendary (in indie-rock circles, anyway) and brilliant New Zealand band The Verlaines, sang at the end of the doleful dirge Damn Shame:
You're an embarrassment to be so sick in reputation
You should be quarantined and never let out
Your behavior's beyond belief
It does not fear the burning question:

Good morning... how you gonna live with yourself?


Anonymous said...

Must be all those phone calls, letters, and e-mails from Joe's Saratoga County constituents have had, as I predicted they would, their desired effect. No way the ol' pro is going to take the hit for a shuttered Big A on Jan 1. /S/Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

The NY racing franchise debacle is far from over. There is no way that critical NY legislators will be railroaded by the NYRA's coercive activity in the bankruptcy court. The NYRA is an historically failed institutuion, with no reasonable plan for sustaining the future of racing in NY, other than perhaps running it into the ground again. NYRA loyalists, open your eyes, maybe cut your blinkers back a bit, and have a good close look at the group and its plundering, something that for some reason, you are blindly supporting. As part of a grander and more powerful machine, NYRA may indeed have an itegral part to play, but surely it should not be as the most crucial component.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if NYRA has had those calendars printed up as of yet."

They are already listed on eBay !

Anonymous said...

Question related to yesterday's post: If I think Bellamy Road at $10K is an incredible bargain, is there any way to profit from that without actually buying a horse? Do they ever sell future breeding seasons (say 2011)? And is it possible to book a season without actually owning a mare?

Michael said...

Regarding Biancone: had he ever been charged with anything I think race track officials in other jurisdictions could have taken action against him, but since he wasn't charged (and everything we knew about Cobra Venom was technically from leaked sourced reported in the DRF) it makes sense that nothing was done.

Now what doens't make sense is why Ky Stewards didn't speed up the investigation and pretty much charge him with a violation the day after the found the venom. Why it took them 4 months to say boo about what was found in Biancone's barn is beyond me.

Anonymous said...


I had the same idea with Allen's prospect about 20 years ago, tried to buy a share without owning a mare to no avail because they wanted shareholders to support the mare, not speculators.

To answer your questions, the only way to profit without owning a horse would be to purchase a share now, sell the seasons annually and hope for appreciation in the share. You would lose money initially selling the seasons, and have to pay your percentage share of upkeep.

This presumes the stallion is actually syndicated and not privately held. In the latter case you may still be able to hunt down a share owned by the farm or maybe the trainer.

Assuming he is syndicated they prefer not to sell one unless you play to support the stallion, but if demand is light, which apparently it is, you can try.

Future breeding seasons usually are attached to owning a share, with one annual right per share.

In the initial years an extra breeding right is sometimes attached, but disappears after a few year.

There is no stock market equivalent as far as buying futures.

They book only seasons for the upcoming year, so no point booking one if you do not own a mare nor will they let you do so. If you could flip the season at a profit the farm would already raise the price.

IF you really feel strongly about him and have the money, would suggest buying a decent hard sound mare and breeding her in year 3, the most speculative year, when his first crop is about to hit the track.

IF correct and they come out running, his stud fees will have risen and your foals will be worth plenty by the time they are ready to sell but his is EXTREMELY speculative and remember 90% of stallions fail including many that appear to be no brainers on paper.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Well it is an old fashioned syndication, rare nowadays, but there is no information regarding share cost on Hurricane Halls under construction web site.

Not really a stallion type pedigree, particularly on the dam side, which accounts for the low entry fee, but a quick look indicates the three pronged ownership group is purchasing a ton of decent mares presumably with which to support him.

If you google the stallion there are some interesting quotes from Walden in particular his logic in syndicating, which I agree with.


Alan Mann said...

Walden says that Steinbrenner has retained some shares and will support him with Kinsman mares.

Anonymous said...

Still don't understand why Anon is so down on NYRA. When all is said and done, NYRA is as good as you're going to get for the racing franchise, period. Nowhere have I heard a better case presented for any other entity. If not NYRA, then who??? /S/Green Mtn Punter

Alan Mann said...

...and by the way, thanks much for the interesting commentary.

Alan Mann said...

>>Still don't understand why Anon is so down on NYRA.

Methinks this particular anon is a Capital Play troll....same tone as the deceptive anti-NYRA ads, which I saw on the local Fox affiliate this morning. That's an escalation of airtime purchases, as it was previously limited to cable channel NY1.

Teresa said...

Check out LeBrun's article in today's Times-Union. Only skimmed it, but sounds like things are close to done. Perhaps that's the cause of the escalation?

Equidaily's got NYRA news bannered across its center.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - Thanks for the detailed info in your answer to my question about Bellamy Road. I can't say I've done any real research, but $10K for him sounds awfully cheap for him relative to other equally unproven (but far less brilliant) recent retirees (like Stormello). Of course even if I had the money to go ahead and buy a mare (or a share in the syndicate) I'd want to find some way to hedge my investment, since I think the entire breeding industry is in something of a 'bubble' right now. Are there any publicly traded breeding operations that I could short sell as a hedge? - Alex ("anonymous")

P.S. The other stallion that seemed surprisingly cheap to me is Exclusive Quality at $5K. I realize he only raced 4 times, but he won at up to a mile, set a track record, and in those four starts managed to beat Bernardini, Songster, In Summation, and ??? (I'm momentarily forgetting one other eventual Grade II winner).

Anonymous said...

No, not a Capital Play troll, just a truly vested industry advocate. Breeder, owner, handicapper, bettor, fan, a person with many hats and a passion for the thoroughbred. I have personally experienced the NYRA arogance and corruption, and as an honest businessperson with reasonable judgment, I am asking for NY to do better than rewarding the bullies with more time to further destroy American racing. Who's to say racing needs a known quantity to take it out of its doldrums. Maybe a casion operator isn't right, but how about just good intelligent honorable folks?

Alan Mann said...

>>No, not a Capital Play troll, just a truly vested industry advocate. Breeder, owner, handicapper, bettor, fan, a person with many hats and a passion for the thoroughbred.

Fair enough, and apologies then for the mis-characterization.

Anonymous said...

No problem Alan. You're just trying to do what's right in your heart of hearts. I wish all of racing's "Pu-Bahs" would be as passionate as we are. Racing horses is a "sexy" enterprise with too many wannabes and insiders prefering to exert control. Because you have a voice and a position that you consistently support, I respect you even though we are worlds apart on the NYRA. I can't reveal myself to the world now becasue the NYRA has a history of snubbing those that speak out against its rule. Sad but true.