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Monday, January 21, 2008

Tuesday Morning Notes - Jan 22

- I put in a good three hours at Aqueduct on Monday, which is about my limit there. Three hours can go by like a dream at Saratoga or Belmont, but, as much as I love it, that feels like a full day at the Big A.

I didn't overhear any discussions about the franchise, and whether or not racing would continue, even though it could have been the last day. It's seemed a foregone conclusion for awhile now that an extension would come through. And if there was an announcement at the track of word of the new extension, I didn't hear it. The new deadline date is Feb 13.

NYRA issued a statement claiming that: “The latest temporary agreement provides the necessary time to enact legislation granting a long-term racing franchise.”[] But the truth is that if lawmakers really intend to fully explore the OTB issue in the light of NYCOTB's threatened closure, it's going to take a lot more than three more weeks. The scenario suggested the other day in which the franchise becomes entwined in the annual March 31 budget deadline drama makes a lot of sense, and perhaps is one we should have expected all along.

Of course, NYRA, if it really, really, really, really, really was 100% solid in its belief that it would ultimately prevail on the land claim issue, could put a stop to continued delays by threatening to halt racing and go to bankruptcy court.

Not much exciting to report from the local racing scene; just another day of winter racing with a holiday crowd of 2,691 on hand. The highlight I guess was the win by Bustin Stones in the Promonroe Stakes, remaining undefeated for trainer Bruce Levine in four state-bred races, despite being out since May. But I wasn't there in time to see that.

I cashed an exacta ticket on the 5th at Gulfstream, the winner of which I correctly selected here; though I needed the Motion horse, which finished third, to get second for some serious winnings. The winner, Lookalike, is worth a mention though; for one thing, she took some serious late money, slammed from 7-2 to 2-1 in a single flash with a couple of minutes to go. And she backed that up with a powerful rally after being confidently ridden by John Lezcano. Nice looking three-year old filly from Matz has now raced well on Tapeta, Poly (the Keeneland variety), and grass, and she has the pedigree to succeed on dirt too.

When Mambo Meister scratched from the 8th at the Gulf, it assured me of a break-even day as far as my blog picks went. But too bad he scratched, because the race was awful, with Mott's Fierce Wind laboring home in a lethargic 1:52.29. This horse is now two-for-two around two turns with a combined winning margin of 15 lengths; so as I mentioned, look for him in Haskin's next Derby column....but don't believe the hype. By Dixie Union, he's a full brother to Rebel Yeller, who won the Woodlawn on the grass last year. The bettors made Pletcher's Southern Terminus the 3-5 favorite off a single sprint maiden win at the Big A, ouch.

I could have had a really nice day had I hit that cold exacta in the 10th at Fair Grounds, but, of course, this time, King's Silver Son benefited from a ground saving trip and got the win as the 6-5 favorite, with my top pick running second.

- I don't like professional team sports these days. The Rangers are in dead last, and though, at the risk of sounding some sour grapes, the puck has not really bounced their way all year, they've certainly achieved their current standing on merit. I will, however, go on record here as sticking by the Blueshirts, and maintaining that they will make the playoffs and make some noise there as well.

But worse yet, how about a Jets fan having to endure a Giants-Patriots Super Bowl? What, are you kidding me? What did I do to deserve this??? One sure bet you can make on Super Bowl Sunday is that you'll find me as far, far away from a TV set as possible. I'm hoping that there's some retrospective of four-hour Swedish films at Lincoln Center or something like that. One good thing about living in New York is that most people don't care about football (or hockey, or, certainly, horse racing), and it's very easy to isolate oneself from nauseating match ups like this. And that's the last mention of football you'll see on this site until next fall.


Anonymous said...

The Nightmare Bowl for we Jet fans.

Ruben Bailey said...

Jeez Alan...Rangers AND Jets? And we're supposed to use your racing selections??? jk.

Gotta root for Big Blue. Just heard Mad Dog Russo on KNBR out here saying that NY "has fallen in love with the Giants". Good times!

Don't worry, it's ONLY two weeks of hype.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else watch the Eclipse ceremony on TVG? It was almost as lame as if watching an annual awards banquet for golf at a country club. No enthusiasm in general, wretched acceptance remarks, flat jokes, and just weak in general.

This is 2008 so you'd think video could be better used to pump up the event. How about video shorts dispursed throughout the telecast reflecting the year in review, a look back at who has passed away or even what records were broken?

There could be so much more produced relatively cheaply to reflect what was 2007.

Gee aside from John Henry we also lost a horse like Runnaway Groom who in '82 gave all fans a shock in the Travers. Replaying that stretch call would've jolted the attendees a little bit between their glum looks down at their martinis.

Alan Mann said...

Glimmerglass -

No, I did not watch the ceremony, partly because I figured it would be just as you said. But it definitely seemed as if TVG cut back on their production costs. I recall in the past, they had a "red carpet" preview show, and a post-awards wrap-up; this year, just the three hour awards show. Sure, those other shows were gratuitous and unnecessary. But it sure ain't as if they had anything better to show on a Monday night. And you're correct in that it wouldn't have cost them much to throw in some videos.

Anonymous said...

More VLTs, Quick Draw Expansion in $124 Billion Budget
January 22, 2008 at 10:01 am by James M. Odato
Gov. Eliot Spitzer laid out a plan for $124.3 billion in spending in the upcoming fiscal year, up 5.1 percent from this year’s $118.3 billion budget.

Spitzer would rake in one-time revenues of $1.1 billion. One way would be by capturing $250 million by selling development rights to a video lottery terminal franchise holder for Belmont Park, which has not been approved.

Another gambling plan involves permanent long-term funding from easing restrictions on the keno-like lottery game Quick Draw

Anonymous said...

Any readers or commenters planning to be at the Horseplayer World Series this weekend?

Anonymous said...

Green Mtn Punter, being a life long New Englander, has to stick with the Patriots. A mortal lock to win if ever there was one! At least as "sure thing" as Secretariat to show. Message to Alan: please don't go out on a limb and pick the Patriots, will ya?!... Too bad it isn't Green Bay, New England fans would like to even the score with the cheeseheads.... Curlin's Eclipses were nice to see, hope his connections decide to hit the Grade I handicap circuit this winter, he brings much needed excitement to the sport. /S/Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

If they used a bunch of old videos they might actually get me to watch.

This sports non-use of it's video archives is yet another example of piss poor marketing. I read recently that KEE Association is undertaking the video conservation and preservation of NYRA's property, hopefully they release some DVD's.

"History of The Wood Memorial" etc...

Yet another free money making idea I just toss out there to Mr. Hayward.

Anonymous said...

More rain Forecast for Santa Anita this week

Alan Mann said...

>>More rain Forecast for Santa Anita this week

Bad timing with Frank's Millions scheduled for this weekend.

Anonymous said...

New England by 28.

Why doesn't NTRA have one central replay archive(like Calracing)for all the racetracks In the US,at

The sight would get more hits than The Drudge report,and the advertising would pay for it self,if not profit.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, no hope for prompt resolution:

NY Panel Stymies Chairman's Actions
The Blood Horse
by Tom Precious

A state government panel overseeing Thoroughbred racing in New York has made it more difficult for its new chairman to broker deals on his own with the New York Racing Association in order to keep racing going temporarily.

The Non-Profit Racing Association Oversight Board adopted a resolution Jan. 22 severely cutting short the power of Steven Newman, the new chairman recently appointed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

"The purpose is to shut him down," said one government source.

Beyond the immediate nature of the move, the panel’s resoluton was been seen as another sign of trouble in the broader franchise negotiations. The panel is run by appointees of top government officials involved in the talks, and the latest power play could represent a setback in the more important, permanent franchise discussions that have been going on for months.

The Republican-dominated board had given its previous chairwoman, Carole Stone, who was appointed by former Gov. George Pataki to the post, broad powers to unilaterally act on the board’s behalf in negotiating deals with NYRA or selecting another entity if NYRA could not or would not keep racing going. The oversight panel has been legally running racing since Jan. 1, a day after the expiration of NYRA’s franchise to run Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga.

But Stone was bounced from her position by Spitzer, a Democrat who then appointed Newman, an ally of Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, as chairman. Since his appointment in December, Newman has brokered two temporary extensions to keep NYRA racing while state negotiators try to find a more permanent solution. The most recent deal keeps NYRA in control of racing until Feb. 13.

The panel’s resolution noted a deal might not be in place in three weeks when the extension expires, thereby requiring further action by the board to keep racing going. Instead of giving unilateral power to Newman, the board’s resolution requires that a majority of the board approve any further extensions.

Newman could not be reached for comment, and the Spitzer administration did not immediately respond for comment. The action came the same day Spitzer unveiled his 2008 state budget plan — a document that includes a proposal to open a video lottery terminal casino at Belmont.

The Belmont question has been a major sticking point in the franchise negotiations. The state has already approved a VLT casino for Aqueduct, though construction has been stalled for years.

The GOP-led Senate wants a Belmont casino, but the Democratic-controlled Assembly opposes it. Spitzer has embraced the casino expansion in the past, but backed away recently in the franchise talks, a move most sides saw as a sign the issue would return as part of the state budget talks.

The governor’s plan calls for 4,500 VLTs at Belmont — the same size as Aqueduct’s planned facility. He believes a fee to be paid by a future operator will bring the state $250 million, a figure he put into his fiscal plan to help balance the budget.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno embraced the Belmont addition, but Silver said his chamber still opposes the expansion to Belmont.