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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Odds and Ends

jp got on my case for calling the HOTY award a "joke" and a "farce;" he thought I went too far, and that it was not my finest moment. Maybe. That was my honest gut reaction though. And you do want me to be honest, right? It's not something I'd really given much thought to....partly perhaps because I'm not at all tuned in to every social network and media platform like Joe Drape is; partly because I don't really care, and otherwise because I thought Blame was a foregone conclusion after defeating Zenyatta in a race which, as close as it was, was not, by the way, quite as close as some make it out to be. I think one can make the case that they could have proverbially "gone around the track again," and the result wouldn't have been different. (OK, maybe halfway around the track..) I thought Blame saw her and held her off at the very end, and she did not gain any additional ground in the immediate aftermath of the finish.

Well, regardless, I'm certainly not here to dis Zenyatta, who's a worthy champion even if not a deserving one. I've been a big supporter over the years, and thought she should have won last year. But she lost to Blame in the Classic, period. Some people commented that the Classic is not the last word on Horse of the Year, and I guess that's (obviously) true. But, as far as I'm concerned, given the way that the Breeders Cup has so diminished the several months leading up to it - from my perspective, the once-glorious Belmont Fall meeting has been reduced to a series of prep races - it sure as hell better have some profound meaning and consequence other than the big purses for the owners and opportunities for Kentucky breeders.

- I thought I was a smart guy when I wrote the other day about the 1990 law which permits NYRA to run simulcast teletheaters, but Matt Hegarty had written about it last month. As to why NYRA hadn't taken advantage of the law before now, he explained:

NYRA was capable of applying for the licenses for the past 20 years, but getting the required approvals from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, the mayor, and the city council was impractical with New York City OTB on the scene. With that barrier removed, those approvals would likely be forthcoming – as long as the state is not interested in bidding out the OTB operation to any private interests. [DRF]
- NY Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson says no pork-barrel spending. This coming from a guy who authorized $118,244 in spending to the law firm of Thompson, Wigdor & Gilly....related to an investigation....into bidding to develop slot machines at...Aqueduct. [Capital Confidential] (How's that for some ... editing?) That was campaign money and, as CapCon noted, legal defense payments are lawful and not uncommonly paid by campaigns. This "legal defense" however was an attempt to quash the due process of the investigation altogether....and furthermore contributed to some $3 million in debt incurred by the now-minority party.

I called my State Senator to ask how she can still support Sampson as party leader. Had a nice conversation with her chief of staff, who told me that the IG's report is just a report, and that the Senator would surely take a close look if any further investigations or efforts to indict should bear fruit, yeah, whatever. Still, some of the those accusations, such as Sampson giving details of rival bids to AEG's lobbyist, have been uncontested and accepted as fact....and not a single word of the report has been disputed by Sampson, at least as far as I know. Personally, I think he's a stooge and a clown, and I don't take seriously anything he says nor that of anyone who still lends their support. And that's my honest gut reaction to that.

- And finally - a little something for everyone here - how could I possibly pass up on a horse named Coach Ryan in Wednesday's 4th at Gulfstream; how's that for a hunch bet? But this six-year old gelded son of Broad Brush, stakes place twice in 2008, dropped in for a tag off a 22 month layoff, and lagged early before rallying for third into slow fractions on a sloppy track. Drops further off the claim for Ken Ramsey and trainer Michael Maker; looks shaky here as the 5-2 morning line favorite. Manny Who (5-1) woke up to win when stretched out, dropped in class and well supported at the tote two races back; then moved back up, wheeled back in a sprint a week later, rallied from last midway around the turn, bulled his way determinedly between horses and just missed in a spirited performance. Moves up here to open claimers (though down in tag), stretches back out and attracts Castellano.

In the 6th, R Vicarious Girl (4-1) ships in for Wesley Ward, 18-6-1-2 on the meeting. This daughter of Vicar was sharp in two tries, at this claiming level, since switching to this barn....and, in fact, has four wins and a second in five starts for Ward in intermittent stints for the barn over the last couple of years. Showed good speed in those last two, but is capable of rating with a couple of speedy times to the outside. Should be well-positioned for the stretch drive from the two hole with the class dropping favorite Entertaining (3-1) stuck on the far outside. Best of luck and have a great day.


Anonymous said...

drape is a bigger joke. the guy is a fan boy with horrible opinions, not a reporter. typical ny times garbage.

Anonymous said...

If HOY is decided by who wins the Breeders Cup, then Zenyatta should have won HOY last year. HOY is not decided by winning the Breeders Cup. It is based on the whole year's performance. Otherwise, Zenyatta should have won HOY last year for winning the Breeders Cup in 2009 against the boys. I believe Zenyatta will help the sport of horse racing for many years to come, while Blame will be forgotten before the year is over. If Blame is so great, then perhaps he should not have retired and he should raced again this year. But, instead he was rushed off to the breeding shed. So quit crying over the spilt milk & accept the fact, America LOVES our Queen, ZENYATTA :)

MyBigRed said...

Congratulations :)

alan said...

>>I believe Zenyatta will help the sport of horse racing for many years to come, while Blame will be forgotten before the year is over.

I wholeheartedly agree. But that shouldn't be part of the criteria for HOTY.

MyBigRed said...

Well, if what a horse does for racing is not considered in choosing the HOY, then don't blame the fans when the grandstands are empty at the race tracks. The fans can easily go to the malls to spend their money. I belive what a horse does on the track and off the track makes a big difference and I also believe there needs to be specific guidelines on the requirements for HOY. Then we can eliminate the confusion of the qualifications of HOY.

Teresa said...

Zenyatta did a lot for 2010. Yes, she brought some people to the track last year...sometimes. It does not appear that she did anything to raise the amount of money gambled, and it remains to be seen whether her fans will keep going to the track or start wagering. If those things don't happen, her long-term effect on racing will be as negligible as any other horse.

Those of you here who have hailed her as the much money did you bet on the days that she raced? Or at all?

Anonymous said...

Does racing rate the fan by how much money they bet on a horse or by how many fans attend the races? Not every racing fan bets on the horses. Many go to the races to get their horse fix. Then they grow up to be owners, trainers or jockeys. Becareful how you disregard the fans. they just might be your boss someday!!

El Angelo said...

In the past 8 years, we have been told that Funny Cide, Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Big Brown, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta were all horses that would "help" or "save" horse racing. Have any of them even made a long-term dent?

Anonymous said...

Well said. A horse like Z also translates into better TV ratings and positive PR for horseracing. Much of her impact in intangible. Did she "save" horseracing. That's a separate question, but there's no doubt a story like Zenyatta is good for the Sport of Queens (and Kings). -jp

Teresa said...

Anonymous, without betting dollars, there is no racing. No purses, no salaries, no tracks, no stables. I think it's fine to be a fan that doesn't gamble-I am not "disregarding" them-but without gambling dollars, you won't have anything of which to be a fan. That's a reality, not a judgment.

SaratogaSpa said...

This is anecdotal of course, but I have found that the fan created by a specific horse is different than the fan brought into the game because the fan developed a love of horseplaying(betting). The one created by a specific horses tends not to bet.

Anonymous said...

El Angelo - horse racing is still alive and without the aforementioned who knows where we would be???

Figless said...

SaratogaSpa, my attraction to racing was created in the glory years of 1973-1978, the first few of which I was not legally allowed to wager. I fell in love with the horses, and soon thereafter fell in love with gambling on them but always knowing that someday I would own and breed.

Do not underestimate the importance of getting the newbies to the track, it is the long term strategy for success.

Sadly many of the tracks have lost sight of that long term vision while desperately clinging to the status quo.

Short term, sure, you need to increase handle but if you want a long term customer you must also nurture the novice.

This is why I both praise and criticize Z's connection, the former for calling an audible and allowing her to campaign another season, the latter for not being more creative with that campaign.

Blame could have and should have returned for another season, the stallion market sucks right now anyway. This assumes he is healthy of course.

steve in nc said...

If two teams that haven't faced each other all year square off in the NCAA hoops final, and team Z comes from 15 points down in the last 3 minutes only to lose by 1 point, would team Z be considered team of the year? Uh uh.

That's why you have a March Madness tournament, and why college football fans want one too. So instead of "strength of schedule" debates, you can settle bragging rights on the field.

Many years in racing, we never get that on-the-track match up to determine the champ. In 2010 we did, or so lots of us thought.

From DRF:

"Penny Chenery, the owner of two-time Horse of the Year Secretariat, has created a “Secretariat Vox Populi Award” that will annually “recognize a horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the American public and gained recognition for the sport during the past year,” according to an announcement Chenery distributed on Wednesday."

Zen is a great mare, maybe the best ever, who had an incredible streak, but Chenery's is the award she truly deserved in 2010, not HOY, which should be about peformance on the track.

So channel Al D'Amato and call me a putz if you like, pay me like JJ Putz if you don't mind, and lay your praises at the hooves of your Queen, but sorry, this got settled on the track, unlike in 2009, and no popularity contest can undo that.

El Angelo said...

Anon 8:11--can anyone really point to any increase in attendance or more importantly, wagering, from all of these savior horses?

The myth that horse racing get no attention from the national media is just not true. All of those horses I mentioned, plus Barbaro, Big Brown and War Emblem, receive a fair amount of attention from the national media. Did any of it make a long-term difference?

Anonymous said...

Without big horses, the sport would probably die out completely. So no, the Barbaros, Rachels and Zenyattas of the world are not "saving" horseracing, which continues a decades-long decline thanks in many cases to factors beyond the industry's control, you could make a pretty solid argument that stars such as these help keep the sport in the public eye enough so that the decline isn't as pronounced. Without them the sport would surely die out. -jp

Anonymous said...

I believe had Zenyatta shipped east to Saratoga to face the top Grade I open company in the Whitney Handicap, that event and the press hype created before and after, would have been the most lasting thing Zenyatta could have done for racing.I know, pure speculation of the worst sort but it's always nice to think of what if... The BC is ruining racing and a new formula for Eclipse Awards must be found before Grade I stakes fade away. /S/greenmtnpunter

El Angelo said...

All due respect, I completely disagree that the BC is killing racing. It's a year-end goal that everyone can shoot for and gives racing 2 days on TV. Without it, the season would be fairly rudderless and get even less attention.