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Monday, July 07, 2008

Economy, Speed Kills

- Got an email the other day from Tom Federlin, the persistent Saratoga real estate agent: With only 20 days till opening days it is time to make that last minute reservation. Here are a few homes that still are available.

His list follows. I guess that '48' available homes qualify as "a few." In addition, under Travers Week, we're told: Too many to list. Call for suggestions.

Here's a suggestion: how about a last minute fire sale? (not to be taken literally.)

We've had this discussion before, and as I've said, I certainly could be wrong. But I'd be shocked if we don't see appreciable declines, on the order of 5-10%, in attendance and wagering at Saratoga this year. If I am wrong, then man, this is a really hearty (and rich) bunch!! No, the subprime mortgage crisis has not hit many parts of NY State as hard as elsewhere in the country; in fact, you'd hardly even know that there's a problem in NYC at all, at least based on price. And I know that the more fortunate amongst the upscale Saratoga crowd are likely barely fazed by the higher prices at the pump. But I can't imagine that the meeting can possibly escape unscathed, and this anecdotal sign of a glut of housing inventory at this late date can't be a good sign.

NASCAR is certainly feeling the pinch.

Nascar and the tracks that host Sprint Cup races do not release official attendance figures, but according to Nascar estimates, attendance figures have been lower at 10 of 17 races this season. Attendance has gone up at only one race, the season-opening Daytona 500.

Attendance has dropped at four of the last six races, most notably at the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway, where an estimated 115,000 fans attended a Sprint Cup race June 15. A crowd estimated at 145,000 attended the same race a year ago. [NY Times]
This past weekend's races in Daytona, in a state which has been particularly hard hit, was reported to be down 20-30%.

There probably aren't many similarities between most auto racing and horse racing fans. But one thing they do have in common is that they will travel long distances to see the prime events, such as the upcoming Saratoga meeting. Hard for me to think that at least some racing fans won't be content to watch the action at home or at their local track this year.

- Easy win for Mint Lane in the Dwyer; Ready's Image was the 7-2 second choice, a bizarre price given his awful Woody Stephens, and his unimpressive seasonal debut. Pletcher's colt finished dead last, far behind the penultimate runner, the second time in two days that the slumping trainer earned that dubious distinction (Tale of the West in the Prioress).

Mint Lane's front-running fractional splits were 23.55, 23.04 (effectively clinching the race), and then 24.41, 26.33, and 6.95. That final eighth would translate to a quarter of 27 4/5. The undefeated three-year old trotter Deweycheatumnhowe (it's the year of the run-on name in harness racing) came home in 27 2/5 in taking his elimination of the Stanley Dancer Memorial at the Meadowlands on Friday night (a key prep for the Hambletonian). That was his fastest quarter of the race. Makes a lot more sense, don't it? Soon we'll be hearing about how the Polytrack at Del Mar is taking out the "speed" and ruining the game. Don't believe the hype.


Ruben Bailey said...

DO you have any idea on tickets for Saratoga? I submitted a check and the form a few months ago. I called NYRA and they said, "They are being shipped everyday".

Do you know anyone who has received them? Craigslist (NY) has pretty much ZERO on there as of today....

Alan Mann said...

Just read something about that:

>>Some fans who purchased reserved tickets have not received their tickets yet.

“There are various levels of the lottery,” Lee said. “Some tickets have gone. Everyone should have their tickets within the next week or two.”>>

El Angelo said...

Calling Tom Federlin persistent is like calling Dutrow chatty. I like Tom, and he's never failed to get my buddies and me a good place, but he's pretty dogged in his work.

That said, I think NYRA's going to look at an increase in attendance and a decrease in wagering. I agree with someone's comment earlier that the track is a great place for a "staycation" or to take the kids on weekends for a picnic, etc., but given the economic troubles, it wouldn't surprise me to see people betting a lot less this year. Especially if we keep up this streak of getting a thunderstorm every fricking day.

SaratogaSpa said...

Tickets are being mailed out by NYRA on a "category" basis. If you requested tickets for individual days your are catergory III -those were mailed out starting last week-so check your mailbox this week if you still have not got them.

As far as attendance this will be eagerly watched. I still say it's a wash with the "staycation" crowd coming out strong ...but let's stay tuned.

El Angelo said...

Speaking of the greatest place in racing, is anyone up for doing a Battle of Saratoga contest a la the Daily News? I've done them before, and am happy to use one of my blogs as the "host" site.

Anonymous said...

Yup, got my tix last week- 4 in Sec W for Whitney Day, and my pal got 4 next to me, and 4 for getaway day- missed on the Travers again this year, guess the luck of the draw deserted me again for the Big One. Looking forward to the Spa as always, it's post time minus 15 and will be here in a blink of the eye! "Aaaannnn....they're off", and all will be right with the world again for a fleeting few weeks! /S/Green Mtn Punter

Ruben Bailey said...

Thanks for the info. Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Actually, believe the hype. If Del Mar isn't considerably faster this year, then it's nothing more than the Calder of the West, and not Saratoga West. The lack of speed does ruin the game, like it or not.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, the Holiday Inn is sold out for Travers weekend. I have a hunch they will do ok this year.

Anonymous said...

My Group Sales tickets for Whitney weekend are nowhere to be found.

Usually have by now.

Plenty of time.....I hope.

Anonymous said...

Ignore prior comment, got mine last week. Duh!

Anonymous said...

El Angelo- My Battle of Saratoga is taking my friends to the battlefield on Sunday morning for a tour and lecture by yours truly- a lot easier than picking winners I find. Alan should try it, haha! I'm a Post reader so am not aware of the "Battle" contest in Mort's left wing rag! Remembering Father John McLaughlin's fondness for Mort on his Sunday a.m. shouting matches years ago. /S/Green Mtn Punter