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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bruno Rolling Along

- All three bidders for the mythical Aqueduct racino have been deemed to be "qualified" to run the place by the Lottery. Big surprise there; we're not talking about fly-by-night outfits here. I wonder how many days at $1 million in missed revenue were spent on that process. So, the Saratogian reports, the gaming contract is in the hands of the state's top leaders, indicating that a decision might be made soon. "I wouldn't put a timetable on it," said a Paterson spokesperson. Yeah, I figured that.

Of course, each day that the racino is delayed is good news for the booming Empire City at Yonkers Raceway racino. The pickup is business there has led to the second significant boost in purses for the harness races just since July 1, when the prizes were boosted by 15%. This time the purses will be raised an average of 21.6 percent, starting on August 1. [US Trotting Association]

- NYRA has instituted rolling daily doubles throughout the day at Saratoga. That might seem like a noncontroversial no-brainer, but horseplayers will always find a reason to disagree. A commenter to Tim Wilkin's Talking Horses blog notes:

The novice bettors will bet those rolling doubles, but will not be able to keep track of their bets. They will try to cash double tickets for races 6/7 when they REALLY bet the double in races 5/6 and......Those same novices will trash winning double tickets BECAUSE they cannot keep track of them……STOOPERS take note….BIG $$$ making days ahead!!
Yeah! And how about when those novice bettors try to bet the double for races 6/7 when they REALLY want to bet the exacta in the 8th at Monmouth and they try to cash them at a Stewart's instead? I'd be keeping my eyes out for winning tickets all over town!

- I guess we won't be seeing former Senator Joe Bruno at Saratoga much this season after all, since he'll surely be busy with his new job. No, not one for the Paterson administration. But rather, his new gig as the CEO of CMA Consulting Services, a company which has done substantial business with the state.
The company, which was founded by SUNY Board of Trustees member Kay Stafford (widow of former [Republican] Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Stafford), racked up $22,404,765 worth of contracts with the State of New York over the past four years alone. [Artvoice]
Recently, CMA lobbied to have its exclusive technology for red light traffic-monitoring cameras approved for use by the state. And it seems none too surprising that the company has already been involved in controversy in this matter regarding suspected improper influence of its lobbyists.
CMA drew some scrutiny this year after it hired Robert Scott Gaddy, a former adviser to Assemblyman David F. Gantt of Rochester, as a lobbyist. Mr. Gantt, the chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, had long opposed traffic cameras as too intrusive, yet he introduced a bill that would allow cities and towns across the state to install them and require the kind of technology that CMA sells. [NY Times]
Bruno is prohibited by law from lobbying the legislature for two years. But nothing prevents him from doing business with the executive branch.

James Odato reports in the Times Union reports that Bruno would not disclose his new salary.
Industry insiders familiar with CMA estimated Bruno's salary as being at least four times his pay of $121,000 in the job he held for 14 years as the leader of the Republican-dominated Senate. [Albany Times Union]
That's enough for a whole lot of rolling daily doubles.


El Angelo said...

I know bigger bettors like Crist and his ilk will disagree, but I've always like rolling doubles a lot as a way to express an opinion on a race and get an inflated price. They've often been at Breeders Cup races, and they're good at times when you think there's a cinch in one race and you want to elevate the price on a longshot or two in a race before or after. And if you use the "cinch" in the second half of the double, you're able to immediately hedge with some saver plays. It's not something you can get rich playing, but if you're betting less then $200 for the day, it's a nice vehicle for little money.

Alan Mann said...

El Angelo - I agree 100%. Always wondered why they did NOT have them here in NY. Takeout is still reasonable on two horse exotics, and as you said, it's an excellent way to create some value on a horse you have a strong opinion on without having to empty the wallet. Long overdue in my mind.

El Angelo said...

By contrast, why the heck do they still have quinellas on 2 races a day? Would anyone miss them if they were stricken from the list?

SaratogaSpa said...

3rd the opinion. I used it a couple of times yesterday, for instance on Cognito in the 2nd and a long shot in the 3rd (which did not come in) I was betting very little yesterday with the rain shortened fields so it is a good way to get some valve without betting a ton of money.

Anonymous said...

From Sunny Jim in Jersey -

I would 4th the opinion. Daily Doubles are absolutely the saver bets for me - time and again they have given me my playing money for the day, or gotten me even.

Most, but not all, tracks will let you bet $1 Daily Doubles, which are especially good if you have large fields or a weak favorite in one of the races.

Anonymous said...

They also allow you to get a feel for the subsequent race's odds, useful when playing P3 and P4 and especially valuable when that race is a baby race.

Valerie Grash said...

If Paterson won’t put a “timetable” on when the gaming contract will be awarded, do you think he could at least establish a “time horizon”? LMAO

Alan Mann said...

Good point there about the double will-pays providing a clue as to the next race's odds. In addition, sometimes it helps me pick out a "hot" horse, when I see a horse which did not get bet in the doubles then get bet down in the win pool.

Nice one Valerie!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Bruno will serve on the "new" NYRA board as one of the appointees of Spitzer or Paterson? Then he may have permission from CMA to come to the races more often.

Anonymous said...

Woops, meant to say Silver or Paterson!

Alan Mann said...

>>Woops, meant to say Silver or Paterson!

Sounds like you've been reading some of this testimony from the Committee on Public Integrity's Troopergate investigation!

Anonymous said...

I have seen a disturbing trend at the Spa as the decade has worn on. Attendance appears to have shrunk each year. The crowd for Thursday's card may have been the lowest of any opening week day since I have been coming here.

The weather has not been too cooperative. Not just for the enjoyment, but for wagering. Scratches galore. Stats are ridiculous sometimes and the first two days will bear that out. So many high numbers have been coming in, however with all of the scratches there have been MTO winning or hitting the board like crazy.

NYRA appears to be struggling to make money. They now have "Gift Shop" booths scattered in the backyard. If you like $72 golf shirts, please, by all means throw your money on the Chinese made garments. Though I'm not sure they are made in China, but it's someplace where the hourly wage is less than 50 cents. Speaking of 50 cents -- this meet is the one where they should have 50 cent minimum bets for tri's and supers. Also, with the crummy weather, NYRA should have offered FREE GENERAL ADMISSION to those who have braved the elements to sit under trees and get pelted by a few drops or have to walk in oversized puddles, or worse, MUD. Can only imagine what the FREE GENERAL PARKING lots look like.

West Point should stick with Churchill, Ellis Park, or Philadelphia Park. They have no business being in a number of stakes they enter. It's all in the name of bleeding potential partners or those that have joined their ilk. That's right, many of these partnerships are ruining the sport.

Anyone reading Steve Crist's blog?

Anyone following the public handicappers' performances?

What happened to the raceday 360 web site?

Anonymous said...

I trace the decline in attendance to the introduction of VLT's at Saratoga Raceway. As Yogi once said- or was it Casey Stengel?- you could look it up, but who has time as we all need to have our noses buried in the Form so as to make enough to pay the heat bill this coming winter! You just might see Joe Bruno at the track entertaining his new clients on the 'ol expense account. Good for you, Joe, you've paid your dues.

Anonymous said...

Thought they set an new attendance record last year, or was it just a handle record?

I mean, it has been two of the worst forecasts imaginable, of course attendance is light.

Despite the lack of stars on Saturday, bet the old joint will be mobbed with the perfect weather.

Anonymous said...

I should qualify that by saying attendance declined since 2004, first year of VLT's, on the two biggest Grade I race days, i.e., Whitney and Travers. I think if you check those comparsions year-to-year from 2003 to 2007 you will find declining attendance. No more 45,000 on Whitney Day and no more 50,000+ on Travers Day. Many of those have moved down Nelson Ave to the VLT's. Aren't the overall attendance numbers inflated by spinners on give away days? /S/Green Mtn Punter

El Angelo said...

I'll agree with the anonymous poster who said that West Point is detrimental to the game. I know multiple people that have invested with them, and the markup, premiums and tariffs that they take on their horses make it next to impossible for conventional investors to actually make any money.

Unknown said...

>>Aren't the overall attendance numbers inflated by spinners on give away days?

Drastically so, I'd say, but not in the year-to-year comparisons, as they have basically the same number of giveaways each year. Depressing to think that people are actually abandoning the races to play VLT's, y'think? I'm sure it hasn't helped that they started simulcasting the races to the harness track last year, especially on the hot days. I'm sure there was some of that last year on that steamy Travers day.

The West Point marketing machine is in full swing in Saratoga. You can see them in action every morning with potential investors in the backstretch area.