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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

NYRA Forges On To The Belmont

Any publicity is good publicity, it is said, and if that's indeed the case, then NYRA, for all it's been in the news lately, might have to set up giant screens in the parking lot to accommodate an overflow crowd there on June 5.

More likely however is that, on a nice day for the Belmont Stakes, they'll have something in the neighborhood of 50,000 or so to see, with a little luck, a field of 10-12 horses and a lively betting race.....or, at least, one with several live contenders with which to try and beat probable favorite Ice Box.

NYRA's communications department is off and running with a press release on Tuesday about the Belmont Stakes festival to be held in nearby Floral Park and Garden City the day before. The Belmont Stakes website is up and active, with four - count 'em - bloggers, including two non-staff members who are being compensated with free admission to the race and coupons for 20% off all non-alcoholic beverages. There are updates on people still use that? And it looks like NYRA has managed to hire a PR firm for the occasion. I guess if NYC OTB could do it, then they can; hope they get better results for their money.

It must be an eerie atmosphere there as NYRA pulls out the stops to market the race amidst reports of its imminent closure. Governor Paterson gave a reflexive "we have a plan" response to a reporter's question on Tuesday; and while a couple of reporters turned that into a story, Matt Hegarty reported in the Form that, in fact, the talks have yet to produce any specific plan to loan NYRA the money. [DRF] Expressing what likely is wariness generated by the unsuccessful bluff by NYC OTB, Senate Democratic spokesperson Austin Shafran told the Saratogian: “Before any taxpayer money is used, we would like to know how much money NYRA actually has." By the time they get around to doing so, the answer might very well be 'none.'

Here are the past performances for the 2006 Belmont (pdf file), which was the last time that neither the Derby nor Preakness winner was present. That race drew over 61,000. You had the Derby runner-up Bluegrass Cat, as well as the third and fourth place finishers (Steppenwolfer and Jazil). But those runners finished far behind Barbaro and generated so little enthusiasm that the bettors somehow decided to make the 17th place finisher Bob and John the lukewarm 9-2 favorite. Euro shipper Oh So Awesome, Peter Pan winner Sunriver, and West Point's sacrificial lamb High Finance were some other horses of interest.

This year (and here are the pp's for the prospective contenders), Ice Box and First Dude, coming off their bang-up runner-up efforts in the first two legs, by themselves probably make this a more accomplished field. Throw in the Peter Pan Dwyer winner Fly Down (and the tough luck runner up Drosselmeyer), Baffert's Lone Star Derby winning Game On Dude (that's right, two dudes in the same race), the intriguing stretch-runner Setsuko, and the Derby 4th place finisher Make Music For Me, and you have the makings of a decently competitive race with a lot of different ways to go betting-wise. Not to say that they will equal the attendance of 2006. Things are different now with the economy still on shaky ground, and the parking and admission prices far higher. Last year's 52,861 who came to see Mine That Bird but no Rachel Alexandra is probably a better guide.


Figless Anon said...

Thanks for the prospective pp's can never start handicapping too soon. At first glance a nice competitive race, should be a great day of racing overall, and hopefully not the last for quite some time.

If history is any guide to the future the winner should be Make Music For Me, who like Jazil was aimed at the Belmont after closing for 4th at long odds in his Derby.

Ice Box obviously also fits the pattern, just ran better that day and will be an underlay.

ljk said...

Most businesses budget there operations based on revenue projections. If revenue falls short, they don't stand around a whimper about "unfairness" but rather adjust there expenses and cut costs. In NY racing it seems you have to posture and threaten a shutdown before taking the obvious steps, as NYC OTB did.

onecalicocat said...

A lot of closers in the Belmont field.
Who will make the pace?
Will there be any pace?

El Angelo said...

Well we had a similar scenario in 2000 when Commendable stole the race from just off the pace, while the closers everyone liked from the Derby (Aptitude, Wheelaway, Unshaded) couldn't get going in time to win. May see that again this year with First Dude or--go ahead and laugh--Dublin.

steve in nc said...

Total change of subject.

If you're a fan of handicapping writer and novelist Mark Cramer (I am), here's a link to what he's up to right now.

And if reading the article (or the news about Ernie Paragallo) makes you want to donate, here's the link to Cramer's project:


Anonymous said...

As El Angelo points out, Dublin ran a pretty big race in the Preakness, and shouldn't be ruled out.

Recently we've been talking about trainer comments, and I've always been more intrigued by trainers who talk down or play down horses. Especially the betting types.

Here's an interesting comment I found today:

Regarding Dynamic Range going first time for a tag on Thursday at a mile and a half....

"I wish it were shorter," trainer Julio Canani said. "He's
going to have to run his best race."

Obviously check the works and pp's, but that seems like a suspect comment from a guy known to unload at the windows.


Unknown said...

Raises the question, what happened to Fernando Jara? I know he was back in NY this winter but in 2006 seemed to be a rising star? Anyone know what, if any, issues there were?

Anonymous said...

ljk, in most businesses if you lose the top two revenues sources in your projections you go out of business, which is where NYRA is right now.

VLT money was budgeted by this point, and NYCOTB has stopped paying.

The expense NYCOTB decided to cut was their statutory payments to the racetracks, so instead of NYCOTB going out of business NYRA will.

How does that make any sense?

Anonymous said...

Bill, the issue with Jara was him getting rid of the agent that was largely responsible for the success that he enjoyed, Randy Romero. It was a big mistake.

Jara is now going to ride at Delaware Park.