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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Racing Versus NHL is No Contest

Been pretty sick for the last few days, so was stuck at home with nothing but TVG over the weekend, at least as far as racing goes. Don't want nor need to belabor the point of just how much that network totally sucks this time of year. But those were a couple of seriously fantastic cards at Gulfstream this weekend, not too shabby at Santa Anita either, and Fair Grounds and Oaklawn are in full swing. Turning on TVG and seeing Aqueduct, Tampa, and Turfway, and listening to the sleep-inducing commentary is like being stuck listening to John Boehner when the president is speaking next door. It's gotta be a statement on the popularity, of lack thereof, of the sport that it's been years since I've seen or heard even vague speculation that Direct TV would ever pick up HRTV. I've always considered this to be one of the most glorious portions of the racing season, and I guess nobody but our little peanut gallery really cares about it at all.

Meanwhile, the NHL had its All-Star weekend, and did so in grand style. The fantasy draft on Friday night, a red carpet show on Saturday afternoon, the skills competition on Saturday night, and a pre-game show leading up to the game itself, which might have been the least interesting part of the weekend (other than The Guardians Project bit after the second period, awesome, and an inspired marketing angle). True, parts of the draft, and some of those red carpet interviews, were cringe-worthy. But it shows you what a sport can do for itself when it has a network which truly makes it a priority rather than an afterthought, if not a downright nuisance, as racing is on ESPN. (To be fair, the NHL Network also contributed to the effort....but racing could have a network too if it was a unified operation.) Still laughing at the idea of the Breeders' Cup being on Versus?

Looking at these cards from Gulfstream almost makes me sorry that I'll never ever go there again after Frank destroyed the place. 22 races between the two days, just one horse below even money, and that was First Dude. I think this reader makes a fair point about the way that horse was ridden in the Millions Classic...but still, he was an absolutely horrible favorite at 4-5 in is first start since the Breeders' Cup, and his 9th consecutive losing one in a stakes despite still being eligible for an entry level allowance, Might not be a bad idea to enter him in one to bolster his confidence a bit. Might have been hard to make a case for Tackleberry ($56.60) if you figured First Dude would be winging it from the rail. But this gelded four-year old son of Montbrook is now a perfect three-for-three around two turns, earning a career-high Beyer of 100. He's out of a Concerto mare who's a half-sister to the Super Derby winner Outofthebox (also by Montbrook).

Julien Leparoux rode Dialed In, a good thing at 2.70-to-1 coming straight out of a debut maiden win last November, like he was Secretariat, dropping back some 15 lengths off the leader in the Holy Bull, according to track announcer Larry Collmus. It helped that he saved ground rallying on the turn, and surely didn't hurt that the mile distance proved beyond the capabilities of his competitors as they tired in the stretch. Still, quite an impressive burst of late speed once he changed leads midstretch. Odd fractions, according to Formulator, of 25.78, a blistering 21.58 to make up ground, 23.67, and 24.16; and he earned a Beyer of 96. This Nick Zito-trained son of Mineshaft is out of a Storm Cat (remember him?) mare; his second dam is the 1992 2-year old filly champion and Juvie Fillies winner Eliza.


Anonymous said...

Ah the second quarter of mile races in the " no run up " mile races at Gulfstream Park. It's the Twilight Zone of racetracks. Though, given that it took a few years for the track to even realize the actual circumference wasn't exactly one mile and an eighth, it wouldn't shock me if the second quarter was shorter than the first one. You just never know down there.

Regardless, Dialed In is a cool and exciting horse that exemplifies what this time of the year is supposed to be about.

Unknown said...

If it's any consolation, Alan: I live in an area serviced by Cox Communications, which in central Florida carries both TVG and (the far superior) HRTV, but here in Arizona will transmit neither due to the state's regulation against OTB wagering on horses.

Thankfully, HRTV on the web has no wagering option through it, so the signal is not blocked by my ISP. Well worth the annual subscription fee. :)

Figless said...

Dialed In's race reminded me more of Forego, or even Z (style only, for now), than Secretariat.

VERY professional effort over what used to be considered a speed favoring surface.

Its early but this 3yo crop seems promising.

Ya know what would be great? If NYRA could simulcast those GP and SA feeds? Any news there?

Find myself rooting for weather cancellations at the Big A so I can watch GP, but it keeps snowing on GP dark days, sigh:-(

ljk said...

Dish Network. That's the answer. I'm sure they have some super deal for folks switching from Directv.

Frankly I prefer the TVG on air folks. Sure they can be annoying, but at least they have an opinion and put together some tickets. On HRTV only Pincay and Siegel will make a selection.

alan said...

Problem with Dish Network, besides its inferior technology, is that the last time I looked, they were still fighting with MSG. As much as I'd like to see Gulfstream, not willing to give up the Rangers in return.

DiscreetPIcks said...

Dialed In is pretty nice.

steve in nc said...

You are right, Alan. I'm on Dish Net and MSG disappeared over the summer and hasn't returned. Good thing the Knicks are better and get on NBA TV and ESPN now (don't care for hockey). But they do have a package for all the NHL games, and another for all the NBA games; you could pony up. My equipment works fine.

ljk said...

Yep, I get a million sports channels but not MSG.
Have always been satisfied with Dish, but now that I know it's inferior I guess I'm disappointed. ;)

I'm not a huge fan of those Zito horses that drop waaaay back and then try to find a way through. Can't argue that it was a good run from Dialed In though.

I thought Sour looked good in FG race 3 yesterday. Little Al Stall may have his 3rd straight Super Derby winner.

Figless said...

Horse owners in New York would pay a 2.75-percent tax on purse earnings under a plan proposed by the state’s new governor, Andrew Cuomo, to raise money for the funding of the state’s racing commission.

The proposal was contained in a budget plan Cuomo released on Tuesday that seeks to close a $10 billion deficit over the next two years. According to the plan, the tax on purse earnings would raise $7.6 million in funding for the New York State Racing and Wagering Board this year, and $8.5 million next year.

In an analysis of the racing board’s budget, the governor’s office said that the board had “borrowed” money from the state to finance its operations over the last several years, a situation the surcharge would correct.

“The additional revenue from the purse surcharge, combined with cost-containment actions assumed in the budget, will eliminate the need for further general fund advances and will thus ensure that the cost for the board’s regulatory activities are fully borne by the racing industry rather than by taxpayers,” the analysis said.

Richard Violette, the president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, said that horsemen were opposed to the surcharge because of the impact it would have on owners. Currently, horse owners in New York pay a $10 fee on each start to the racing board, and 0.5 percent of handle is also directed to the board for its funding.

Under the plan, an owner who earns $10,000 in a race would be liable for $275 in taxes. It was unclear if the tax would be deducted from purse earnings or applied to the total, Violette said.

“Any way you look at it, it’s about a 3 percent decrease in purses,” Violette said.

Figless said...

My question is what exactly does the NYSRWB do that it manages to run a $7+Million deficit above the
0.5% handle dedicated to its existance?

Could there possible be some cuts to this agency rather than increasing taxes?

So NY Horsemen are now faced with decreases in purses from this and decreased handle due to the loss of NYCOTB, to be offset by the increases from VLT's.

They will be lucky to get back to 2007 levels.

Figless said...

Cancellation at NYRA, Channel 71 will have GP today!

Figless said...

I am going to try Doubles Partner in Race 8 at Gulf today, a well matched NW3/OC, IF he is anywhere near his ML odds of 5-1.

This lightly raced 4yo returns for Pletcher, and defeated the 7-2ML second choice Guys Reward last season. Something obviously went wrong in his final race in 2010, he should rebound under Leparoux.

ML fave Baletti drops in class but his rally always seems to fall short, using underneath with aforementioned Guys Reward.

Will also use NY Bred Banrock (20-1ML) who has a right to improve second off a layoff as he did last season.

Against Mystic (ML 4-1), a Mott/Velazquez 4yo who needs to move forward off his 3yo figs to compete vs. this grizzled group.

Presence of Johnny V will draw plenty of attention at the windows so he should be an underlay.

jk said...

NYRA sent me 90 duplicate text messages saying the track is closed today. OK I get it! Good thing I switched to unlimited texts.

Read Cuomo's lips, no new taxes, unless you are in the horse racing business. I never heard if the 1% takeout increase was allowed to sunset.

Anonymous said...

The artist formerly known as Figless Anon came close today, and probablyhad the best horse. Nice pick, decent price too.

I think I might bet Cook Inlet tommorrow. Might make him my early derby horse even. He galloped out nicely after a slow start versus the factor last out, and closed well for third. The only other horse who closed well on the dirt opening day was caracortado who came back to win. I also hate when a trainer with a heavy favorite (Houston harbor) enters another horse. Especially when that horse is training well, like fusa code in here. Rosario/Sadler.


Figless said...

Dirty, thx, even when a blind squirrel finds a nut there is no guarantee he can open the thing:-)

DP beat the horses he needed to beat but I should have realized the winner would get an easy lead.

Actually I did but decided to ignore since I thought he was overmatched, but pace makes the race sometimes and this was one of them.

Will check Cook Inlet out, I think The Factor is for real so if this guy was behind him and galloped out nice he might we worth a wager at a decent price of course.

Anonymous said...

Houston Harbor out. Decent price won't be an option.