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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

News and Notes - Feb 12

- Could be that some in Florida are seeing what's happening at New York's overtaxed racinos, because there's a move afoot in the state Senate to reduce the tax on the state's racinos in Broward County, and those to be built in Miami, from 50% to 35%.

“We are saying ‘not so’ to those who say a higher tax rate means more (slots) revenue,” Geller said.

Cutting the state tax rate would enable pari-mutuel facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to use higher retained revenue to expand and improve their casinos, and spend more money on marketing and promotions, [Senate Minority Leader Steve] Geller said. That should result in increased slots play and revenue, to the extent that tax payments at a 35% rate would be higher than payments at 50%, he said.
“This would give us incentive to move forward with our plans for a new casino building,” [Magna gaming VP Steve] Calabro said. “It would put us not on a level playing field (with the Seminoles), but closer.” [Bloodhorse]
The current tax rate at New York's Vernon Downs is now, of course, 0% of $0, which ain't doing anyone a whole lot of good. And while I'm certainly not defending Jeff Gural's business decision to open a racino virtually next door to an Indian casino, we're seeing how the other racinos in the state are struggling to compete as well.

Another bill in Florida would allow the remaining pari-mutuels outside of the two counties, including Tampa Bay Downs, to have the Class II VLT's that the Seminoles are currently upgrading from as per their compact agreement with Governor Crist.

- The two-year old in training sale season starts today at Ocala. Two sales companies, Fasig Tipton and Keeneland, are making a change this year, cutting back the number of under tack shows from two to one. The Bloodhorse's bloodstock editor Deirdre Biles, in a column about the reduction for a sales supplement to the current issue of Bloodhorse, spoke to pinhooker Carl Bowling about just how tough these workouts are for young two-year olds, and I thought his response is worth reprinting here:
"The public doesn't realize it, but we are actually blistering (working) them three times before a sale....We breeze one time for ourselves and get them used to the track. We say 'Oh, they're not going so hard,' but they go as hard as heck. Then they come back and we blister them again (in the first official under tack show). If they stumble or do anything wrong, we work them back again (in the second under tack show). Not only do they work an eighth or a quarter, they gallop out as fast as horses can run."
Sounds like a lot of blistering for these very young thoroughbreds.

The Ocala breeze shows were conducted on its new synthetic surface, Safetrack, and though the times were fast, including a Cuvee colt that got his furlong in 9 4/5, the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. Pinhooker Murray Smith told Bloodhorse:
"I've been working horses here since November, and I'm delighted with it," she said. "You can train every day. It's consistent every day. It doesn't matter if it pours down rain. It doesn't matter if it's cold. It doesn't matter if it’s hot. It doesn't matter if it's 7:00 in the morning or 11:00 in the morning or 4:00 in the afternoon; it's consistent, and the horses get over it nice."
There's certainly a future for synthetic tracks in the industry, even if they ultimately don't work out at racetracks.

And I guess it's fitting that The Green Monkey was "retired" on the eve of the juvenile sale season given that it was at the Fasig-Tipton Calder two-year old in training sale in 2006 where he fetched his record $16 million price. I say "retired" because I don't know exactly what he was retired from. Certainly wasn't winning, and it barely qualified as racing. The Green Monkey will have the rest of the year off from doing nothing, as he won't be bred until next year. Dean De Renzo of the Hartley/De Renzo farm at which he will stand, said: "He had the feeling of a champion; he thinks he’s a champion." And that makes one of him. Good luck to all involved in that.


Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to get my hands around the Zayat dropping Bob B as the trainer for his leading 3-yr olds just because he hates California tracks.

Did something change were Bob is strictly CA and that's it? Does this mean that Zayat's horses aren't still going to need to ship at all under Mott, Asumussen, et al?

Bob was the trainer for both of Zayat's stars at Saratoga and they shipped just fine, almost overnight, for impressive wins.

I can understand if somehow Bob was telling Zayat "I'm not going to recommend the Florida Derby" or something else like that but I'm sure a little faith in the skill of Bob should be there to know what is best.

Anonymous said...

We can say that we saw TGM in his debut, and win his biggest pay check, when he finished thrid at Belmont last fall. I still can't believe that three grade 1's, including Rags to Riches in one of them, plus TGM got less than 5,000 to the track that sunny day. teh beer tated great though.

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize the under-tack shows for being conduted on synthetic surfaces this year. Thanks for the update.