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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Washed Out Again

- No racing at Santa Anita today, and the outlook is bleak for the weekend's Sunshine Millions.

“Moving to Hollywood Park on a moment’s notice is a logistical nightmare,” said Haines, who added that moving tote equipment without sufficient time to check everything could jeopardize the ability of the track to take wagering. Southern California tracks share in the ownership of the primary tote board, which is moved from meeting to meeting and would have to be shipped to Hollywood Park and then returned.

“It’s doubtful we could get the tote board across town on one day’s notice,” Haines said. “The funds to operate a mutuel department are astronomical, and to move that money across town, which is insured at Santa Anita but may not be insured at Hollywood, is a very big risk for us.” [Bloodhorse]
They could bring in some British bookmakers to set up shop if they really wanted to!

By the way, I recall that the Millions was on NBC the last couple of years; but this year, they were scheduled to be shown only on ESPN News, and ESPN2. I'd guess that ESPN News would merely show the live races from 4-5, and that the ESPN crew would take over ESPN2 for the second hour. In any event, it's certainly a downgrade from broadcast television, and even gets second tier treatment - at best - on ESPN.

- I was watching the tote for the 8th at Gulfstream, in which I had picked Ling Ling Qi. The horse opened as the favorite, and was sticking around 2-1/5-2 with a few minutes to go. Suddenly, he started shooting up in price - 3-1 / 7-2 / 4-1 / 9-2 - all in consecutive flashes. I was thinking something was wrong. And then he was scratched. Don't know what happened, but perhaps he didn't look right on the track? Or maybe he decided to do his imitation of the Barbaro statue.

The winner, Make The Point, was making his first start since August, and first for Kiaran McLaughlin. He's by Menifee, out of a half sister to stakes winning Daydreaming, and to the dam of Bluegrass Cat.

- The Miami Herald came out in opposition to slots. It cites the pending deal with the Seminole tribe, on the grounds that the pari-mutuels won't be able to compete; and opines that "Slots generate few professional, high-paying jobs and far more that are low-skill and low paying." And it points to the experience of Broward County:
Broward approved the gambling expansion in 2005, but the slots there have generated less than initially projected. State-revenue forecasters had to lower their estimates by $83 million this year.

Moreover, the promised boost to education from expanded gambling is minuscule at best. This is because the $200 million or so expected from Broward slots is a mere drop in the bucket of Florida's $20-plus billion education budget. And most of the education money generated in Broward doesn't go to Broward schools.
Finally, for those who simply enjoy the thrill of long-shot bets, there already are plenty of options, including the Florida Lottery, Indian casinos, off-shore casino ships and, of course, Broward slots.
Er, isn't there something missing in this list? Hmmm, perhaps, something like HORSE RACING?? Well, I guess that shouldn't be a surprise. With all that competition, the sport is fast becoming just an afterthought in the Sunshine State.


Anonymous said...

What happened to the talk that if there was rain - and because Santa Anita was being corrected - then Golden Gate Fields was a back up for the Sunshine Millions? Poof that is gone and the 'woe is us for the rain' comes up?!?

Seriously did they make that suggestion (of GGF) just for laughs and actually discount the real possibility of rain?

I too recall the NBC coverage being their typical 'very good' with high production values but thin with excitement. They had a huge amount of time to air races but the energy was a fraction of what the Breeders' Cup could generate.

Anonymous said...

Well, if they indeed cancel that means one more day trying to handicap the Big A, or should I say trying to decipher which horse is the best of those that manage never to leave the gold rail?

Never saw a rail bias this bad. Can they do anything about it, do they not have the bucks to pay overtime to the maintenance crew, or do they just not give a hoot?

These races are not playable, not because the horse quality stinks, which it does as usual in winter, but because standard handicapping is rendered meaningless.

When you see a horse taking action you normally would think the horse is doing well, but what it means right now is the jockey is sending.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the idea that SA would go back to dirt immediately? Bet they wish now that they had.

And when are the Cal. horseracing bureaucrats going to be called to account for causing this fiasco?

Anonymous said...

>>What happened to the idea that SA would go back to dirt immediately? <<

I recall reading in either the BloodHorse or LA Times that they simply could not obtain the massive amount of dirt required to make this possible. That was within the last couple weeks and I dar say it was something like 100 tons of dirt needed.

My guess is the cost per cubic foot would've been shocking even if they did find a source for the dirt.

Alan Mann said...

They were seeking a specific kind of dirt which they couldn't find as I recall. And besides, I got the impression they were pretty blown away by the Pro-Ride demonstration.

Anonymous said...

Oops - thankfully I'm not trying to be a Civil Engineer with my exceedingly low recollection of the needed volume of dirt ;>

Regarding the volume of soil needed for SA:

Per the Whittier Daily News article (link below):

"... "We're also continuing to call around the country to try to find 20,000 tons of dirt - 20,000 tons of a very high-quality, sandy loam-type dirt."

Michael said...

Wait, there is only one tote board in all of Southern California?

Brett said...

Michael I actually think between Santa Anita and Hollywood they share one, but tracks such as Golden Gate and Del Mar have their own. Fairplex may take on of theirs though.

But it's going to be a shame when the Sunshine Millions is only held at one track with half the races.

Anonymous said...

Why did the get permission from the California Horseracing Board to move racing to Hollywood Park if they had no intention of ever doing it?

Alan Mann said...

>>Why did the get permission from the California Horseracing Board to move racing to Hollywood Park if they had no intention of ever doing it?

Cat - Maybe in case they needed a long term shutdown? Now, relief is (supposedly) on the way with the Aussie fix next week, so maybe they figure they can ride it out and stage the Millions card themselves. They drew over 36,000 for the event last year (though didn't Lava Man run?)

Anonymous said...

It's my understanding they'll need a dry track before they begin to mix in the Pro-Ride particles. Then the process will take another 4 days (minimum).

Anonymous said...

Why can't racing postpone these races like other sports?

Not talking morning of, but rather in advance once obvious severe weather is pending.

Just announce on Thursday that the races will be carded next Saturday.

Not going to draw 36k anyway in the middle of this storm.

The may get the dirt on the track from the surrounding hills if the projected mudslides develop.

Joking aside, this is another bad storm, hope CA avoids casualties and major damage.