RSS Feed for this Blog

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thursday News and Notes

A Daily News headline the other day read: Democrats may say no dice to New York casinos, Sheldon Silver warns. However, I think that's a case of a paper making up news in order to attract some readers/traffic. All the Speaker really said is that he can't guarantee how his conference will vote. The fact is that Silver supports it, as does the Governor and the Senate Majority Leader....and I for one don't sense any real organized opposition to the idea in the legislature. . And Silver acknowledged that the climate is far different from the last time it came up in the late 90's.

Not only is the deficit-plagued state desperately in need of new revenue and job creation, but casinos have sprouted up in surrounding states and even on Indian reservations within New York.

“There may be an attitude of ‘Let’s take some of the revenue and keep it home,’” Silver said.
A familiar argument to be sure. Even Mayor Mike, a one-time gambling opponent, trotted that one out to explain his recent reversal. The mayor may have once opposed expanded gambling on the basis of its being regressive, the inevitable saturation, and the fact that casinos are not the panacea for the surrounding neighborhoods that advocates make them out to be. But not anymore. There's sufficient cover at this point for politicians of most stripes to take this easy way out of having to make difficult fiscal decisions.

What the Speaker may really be getting at is buried in the last sentence of the article.
Silver said it is possible that his members will want the constitutional amendment to be more specifically defined than the one Cuomo has talked about.
Because the big question now regarding casinos is not 'if,' but 'where.' (At least in terms of getting the question posed to the voters in a referendum which could take place in Nov 2013.) So, this could set off a frenzy of activity by the New York Gaming Association (NYGA) representing the nine existing racinos, as well as the tribes and private investors such as Louis Cappelli who are looking for a piece of the pie. (Though their lobbyists would probably be happy to see the matter drag on for a couple of years.)

- With 5,000 machines now on line, the win per machine figure for the week ending 12/24 at Resorts World dropped to a relatively anemic $261. While the weeks leading up to Christmas are generally slow ones for the racinos, that's significantly below the $380 figure NYRA is using for their 2012 budget. Of course, I haven't seen an iota of marketing on the part of Genting to this point, have you?

- The purse increases, said to be in the order of 36%, took effect at the Big A on Wednesday. When Stud Muffin ($15) won the 5th race, owner Bruce Golden Racing collected a winner's share of $35,400 (60% of the $59,000 purse)....more than $10,000 more than his $25,000 optional claiming price. No wonder activity has been brisk at the claim box! When Stud Muffin last ran, in the same state-bred optional claiming level, the purse was $43,000. Seven-year old has now earned $44,000 with a win and a second since being claimed by David Jacobson for $20,000, nice.

In the 7th, Coosada ($7.10) shipped in from Churchill off the claim for trainer John Good. He last ran in a 16K claimer there which carried a purse of $21,000. Here, he dropped to 14K, but competed for a purse of $34,000. Owner Maggi Moss collected a winner's share of $20,400 - nearly as much as the Churchill race offered overall - plus the proceeds from a Linda Rice claim, for a total of $34,400. Not a bad return.


Steve Zorn said...

The whole claiming game is changing. Not sure yet how it'll shake out, but it's obviously right to be dropping horses and going for the purse, even if you lose a bit on the claim price. I'd expect most horses to be running one or two levels below what they were running for three months ago.

steve in nc said...

I'm not sure what an appropriate ratio of claiming price to winner's purse share would be, but I am sure it should be higher than 1-to-1.

The current set up is incentive for trainers only to care about the short-term prospects of their older/cheaper stock, since they only figure to own it for a race or two. It would be better for the horses' health if claims were made with longer term prospects in mind, and that means a higher tag-to-purse ratio.

If a horse can win $25k in one win, or in a few minor placings, I'm thinking the tag should be at least $50k. In the old days, the ratio would be far higher, although I suspect upkeep, training costs, and especially medication bills are much higher now.

The horsemen are already getting a big boost from the bigger purses. Are they getting an additional subsidy when they get to undervalue their horsie inventory for tax purposes (using claiming prices as justification) or is that an oversimplification? It does seem they are paying less sales tax then they would if claiming prices were higher.

As a horseplayer, I'd prefer to have a claiming level mean something for handicapping purposes. And as a taxpayer, I could do without hidden subsidies to horse owners while I'm getting double & triple taxed every time I cash.

When horsemen get on my team, I'll get on theirs.

El Angelo said...

Steve in NC: well stated. I don't play Aqueduct much, and thus don't bet on claiming races much, but will say that it's become impossible to detect class moves when the operative number isn't the tag, it's the purse, which if I'm not mistaken usually isn't in the PP lines.

Anonymous said...

One of the arguements by claiming trainers over the years supporting the system has been that it keeps guys from "stealing" a pot with a big drop down in fear of losing the horse. This is no longer true with subsidized purse structures especially ones so large at the bottom end of the scale. They don't care at all about the horse or the sport, it just becomes a means to an end. Not pretty when over medicating sore horses just to take a "shot" at the disproportionate purse money becomes the objective. Claiming races should be eliminated and horses should be ranked based on the last 5 races using performance and money earned criterion. We would then have "like kind" horses racing against each other creating fair handicapping and appropriate betting opportunities.

Steve Zorn said...

Interesting thought. Hong Kong, where I am right now, structures its races that way, with horses classified by speed and caliber of opposition, and no claiming races. BUT -- the purses are so much higher in Hong Kong that owners can actually make money with an average horse. Earnings per start in HK average over US$10,000. When a US track reaches that level, then maybe we can thinki about giving up claiming.

Anonymous said...

Not so sure we have to wait for Hong Kong level purses as the Greyhound racing industry in North America uses a graded sytem to rank its race competitors now, and they run for essentially nothing. The thought of not being able to "drop one in" or "shove it down your throat" or "pass one on to the next" or whatever the claiming buzz phrases are, disturbs those that rely upon passing around the our equine athletes like two dollar whores.

Figless said...

Brief flashback to a week ago's discussion of Jacobsen, I note that he has attracted a number of "new" owners, so what appeared to be madness appears to have the desired effect of raising other peoples money. No idea why someone would give him money based on his track record.

On topic, would seem that a return to the old claiming game, the one with an auction AFTER the race, after vet inspection of the horse, would be the most appropriate compromise. Does not HAVE to be an auction, can just have the claim box open until ten minutes AFTER the race, with horses inspected on their way to the spit box.

In lieu of that I have proposed a rule disallowing a drop of more than one class level without written approval of the stewards and prior independent veterinary inspection.

Or elimination of claimers altogethar, but any of these changes would require cooperation from all states, the main obstacle to getting anything accomplished in the industry.

One of the problems with American racing is the stewards are flat out lazy. SZ will testify to the transparency in Hong Kong as compared to here, where finally, after 200 years, the jockey club has begun publishing a list of trainer rulings.

Any suggestion to regulate the claiming game will result in more work for the stewards, so it will never happen.

Figless said...

Steve in NC, one note, horses are not inventory for tax or accounting purposes, they are depreciable assets, and there is no longer sales tax on racehorses in NY.

Neither note will make you happy I suspect.

Figless said...

As for the Big A, the new purse structure has seemed to result in the desired effect of increased fields and to a lesser extent increased quality, at least for now. Not as many new barns as one might have anticipated, but it does appear some of the bigger outfits left some dirt horses behind.

A perfect example is Saturday's Fifth, a NW2xOC going two turns, a race that would be lucky to fill in prior winters but has drawn a full field of 10 (before scratches), including FIVE horses that wintered at Gulfstream last winter, and amazingly one one in for the 50k tag.

It is composed of a mixture of quality returnees (Jaguar Paw, Yawanna Twist), well bred stretch outs (Darley's Crossbow) and hard knocking veterans.

Since I refuse to bet long absent animals going long, and question Crossbow's ability to get the distance due to Forest Wildcat underneath plus the unusual amount of front running types for a two turn race, I have landed on VISCOUNT, an oddly campaigned 5yo Orientate horse who has failed to win 11 starts since a nice win from off the pace in a first level allowance at Santa Anita on 10/11/09.

Long way between drinks for this one, as he has been tried on grass and in Graded Stakes company or vs. Graded Stakes quality animals in allowance races by Baffert, Wolfson and Wesley Ward.

Now in his third start back on dirt and first going two turns for Chad Brown I feel he will work out a perfect trip from the rail under Ramon and find the winners circle at probably close to or more than his ML odds of 5-1 asuming all run.

I will take my chances that Dutrow's returnee Yawanna Twist will not run back to his close 4th place finish in the 2010 Preakness or third place finish in the 2011 Carter, if he does he wins at an underlaid price without me.

Crossbow and Jaguar Paw should ensure a fast pace (if both run) and they could have company in a few others, if it results in a meltdown it may allow longshot stalker Regal Warrior, who has some races last winer over the surface that make him competivive here but seems a tad too slow on current form, to clunk up for a share at a big price.

Sun Dance Moon is another stalker type that is in good form but appears slower than the top competitors but may benefit from a meltdown or simply if the returnees are not ready.

DiscreetPicks said...

Happy New Year everyone!

Gulfstream - Race 8

#6 Pikestar (12/1 ml)

Very interesting entrant for Michelle Nihei here. First-time starter comes into this two-turn grass race fresh off the heels of a heads-up turf drill with Regalo Mia, who just came out of that drill to win a similar two-turn grass race on Friday (with today's rider Castanon aboard) despite breaking from the 12-hole in a race that started right on the turn. And prior to that, Pikestar had worked heads-up on two occasions (both on grass, again) with Woodford Belle, who then came out of those drills to win an allowance race on grass last Monday. Looks extremely live here at a big price.

DiscreetPicks said...

Pikerstar really got handicapped by the extremely slow start at the break. Hard to keep an eye on him down the backstretch because he was completely off the screen, but it looked like he turned into the stretch with tons of run and just had nowhere to go due to some serious traffic problems. I defenitely retain interest in this horse for next time, and he should be a huge price again (he went off @ 33/1 this time) after today's beaten margin.

Anonymous said...

Your picks are brudal.

I'm living on the street because of you!

Figless said...

Viscount ran very well at underlaid 3-1 but was handily beaten by YAwanna Twist who did indeed run back to his Preakness and Carter. Long layoff no problem for Dutrow.