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Friday, February 08, 2008

Turning Our Attention South....

- A couple of more points about the franchise, and then I want to get to these Fair Grounds races, which I've really wanted to do all week. Oh, if I only had more time (or money), then you would REALLY see something here! :)

Anyway, Paul Post reports for Thoroughbred Times that NYRA will get only $30-million more to cover NYRA’s 2008 operating expenses until gaming at Aqueduct gets up and running. That seems to be around NYRA's annual burn rate, so that may be cutting it close, especially since there won't be any immediate relief regarding OTB.

And Post also reports that Bruno's plan has VLT revenue cuts of 7.5% and 1.5% for horsemen and breeders respectively, as opposed to 6.5% and 1% in the MOU.

- Four graded stakes in New Orleans on Saturday, starting with the Mineshaft. My first impression was one of surprise that Magna Graduate is the 2-1 morning line favorite. He's had his moments, but I basically at him as a Grade 3 animal. Er....but this is a Grade 3 race after all! He finished the year with three poor races from his last four. But two of those were at Saratoga, and the Toddster said: "He's sometimes a little picky about his surfaces, and he didn't like Saratoga a great deal." [DRF] This is his first race at Fair Grounds, and I gotta take a firm stand against if he's really going to be the favorite.

I figure that Grasshopper(5-2) will likely fill that role off his second place finish to Street Sense in the Travers, in this, his first race since being upset at 3-10 by Going Ballistic in the Super Derby. Trainer Neil Howard said: "He's got a lot of work under his belt....I think he's ready to run a good race." [DRF]

Silver Lord (9-2) goes for Steve Asmussen, who has already started 201 horses at this Fair Grounds meeting! His 56 winners give him a winning percentage of 28%. Looking at the form of this very lightly raced five-year old (he's three-for-four in his career), it actually looks very similar to that of Grasshopper going into the Travers. In both cases, the horses had exploded to triple digit Beyers the race before. He's cross-entered at Oaklawn, but the Form reports he was in N.O. as of Thursday, and I'll pick him for the slight upset if he goes here, and box him with Grasshopper, leaving out Magna Graduate and third choice Better Than Bonds (7-2).

Better Talk Now returns from his disappointing BC Turf run in the G3 Fair Grounds Handicap. The gelded son of Talkin Man is now nine. We generally think of him as a marathon runner, but he's actually five for 11 at this nine furlong distance, and has run very well at this route in his seasonal debuts in the past; he was a close 4th in the (Churchill) Turf Classic last year, won the Dixie at Pimlico the year before, as well as the Ft Marcy at a mile and a sixteenth in 2005. However, this is only his second race in seven months, so again, I'll take a stand against the favorite.

Daytona has won three graded stakes in a row, including the G1 Hollywood Derby, for Dan Hendricks since being united with Mike Smith. The trainer attributes his improvement to his settling down (and being gelded). "He really matured over the summer." However, Hendricks also pointed out that it's his first U.S. race outside of California, and Dick Powell notes on that the trainer is is 0-for-28 with shippers.

French Beret has really taken to the Fair Grounds course since shipping from Woodbine, and comes off a Grade 3 win. Trainer Mark Frostad said: "He's been training like a maniac down here."

Let's go back to Asmussen again, this time with Inca King (9-2), breaking from the outside post, though with a long run to the turn. This gelded four-year old son of Sir Cat finished 2007 strong with three consecutive stakes wins after two uncharacteristically poor performances which followed a G2 win in the Jefferson Cup. "I've never had a horse pull as hard as he does and still be able to win," the trainer told the Form. He'll likely be pulling outside of Daytona this time, and he gets a mild vote from this corner to go on.

Back with the three-year old races a bit later on, I hope.


ljk said...

Speaking of turning our attention south. Since there's no Breeder's Cup venue in Florida anymore, how about New Orleans? If you can have a Breeder's Cup at Lone Star you could surely have one at Fairgrounds. It'd be the whole temporary seating deal again, but I know I'd go. Makes more sense than Santa Anita year after year.

Maybe CDI isn't interested at the Fairgrounds either.

Anonymous said...

A certain message board should come here for you great reporting on NYRA.

Thanks for the great updates on them.

Anonymous said...

If NYRA is squeezed to hard, they will go to court. The super majority board vote issue might be the one to send this to court. At that point, NYRA will have nothing to lose and everything to gain in court. Bruno can issue press releases from prison explaining why it was not his fault Saratoga was shut down in 2008.

Alan Mann said...

ljk - I think they've pretty much limited themselves to venues that are built to handle large crowds. But you may be right about CDI.

indulto - thanks!!

jk - I think that NYRA will get absolutely skewered if they shut down over the board issue. I'm not saying that because I think it's not a legitimate issue for them. But man, I think they'd get hammered by politicians across the board, the press, we'd even see Jeff Perlee re-emerge with a press release. No matter how much NYRA has tried, they've been unable to dispel the perception that the deal is a bailout for an incompetent and corrupt organization, rather than fair compensation for valuable land owned by the stewards of the top racing program in the nation operating in an impossible business model.