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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Getting Out While the Genting Getting is Good

NYRA's director of communications Dan Silver is leaving on Oct 1 to become the director of racing operations at Penn National.

Silver’s new role will have him managing the racing and pari-mutuel operations at Penn National Race Course, including its four off-track wagering facilities and eBetUSA/Telebet account wagering operation. [Saratogian]
As I've written many times before, Dan did a great job, helping to transform the communications department almost literally from Day One into a more forthcoming, aggressive, creative department that utilized new social media outlets with aplomb.  I imagine he won't be the last able body to depart NYRA, under one circumstance or another.  While this would have been an attractive opportunity under any circumstance, one couldn't blame him for taking a look around given the uncertainty around Governor Cuomo's scheduled takeover..

..Which we still don't know when will take place.  The governor was asked about it during a Q and A with the press following a media event regarding plans for the new Tappan Zee Bridge (with an interesting selection to the team which will review the design).  He responded: "We are working on that very diligently and will have something for you soon" and turned away for the next question.  It was a rather curt response....not one that made me think that something is coming soon, and something he clearly didn't want to talk about on a day in which he was otherwise engaging and willing to spar with the press.  (For one thing, the legislation authorizing the "temporary" change in the NYRA board has not yet been presented to him for signature.)   Odato reported on Monday that the long-awaited task force report on the Big A breakdowns, said to be currently sitting on the governor's desk, would be unveiled this week at an event organized by the Cuomo administration, according to industry officials.  Some have speculated that that event would be a comprehensive one, including selections to the NYRA board; if that's the case, we may be waiting a bit longer for that report on the breakdowns.

 - The Times reported on Wednesday on the flood of gambling money "streaming" into Albany with respect to the coming legislation and referendum on the question of casinos.  The story is based on a study by Common Cause which concluded that gambling interests have spent nearly $50 million on lobbying and campaign contributions in the state since 2005.  Not that any of this should come as a surprise.  The article also quotes a gambling opponent who frets that as the amendment process continued, opponents of expanded gambling...would be unable to compete financially with the industry.
  “Those guys will outspend any efforts, if there is even any organized or disorganized effort on the other side, by large margins to influence opinion." [NYT] 
  The thing is though that it's likely that some of 'those guys' are likely to be throwing their financial weight squarely against the amendment.  I'm thinking specifically of the existing racinos.  They've spent the most money since 2005 according to the report and, given the governor's assessment of the current racino arrangement as a "scandal," have to be considered the longest of long shots for expanded gaming.  Assuming the locations are determined before the matter goes to a vote, you can expect them to direct their ample resources to persuade voters to just say no.

 - Another winner for trainer Bruce Brown at Belmont on Wednesday, now tied for the early lead with five winners (from 14 starters) (with Rudy Rodriguez).   He's So Chic ($9.30) won the third race, first time off the claim.  Pletcher had taken this eight year-old son of Jump Start for 50K two races back for owner Mike Repole and then promptly dropped him in for 20K in Saratoga.  Brown claimed him out of that effort, a disappointing third as the favorite, and moved him up to 35K.  Javier Castellano stuck around despite that loss to guide him to the win here.

In the 4th, Rice to Riches ($3.50) debuted for a tag off a string of steady works (and a bullet in her last) for Pletcher and Zayat Stables.  Some might have been wary, but obviously not the bettors nor David Jacobson, who claimed her for 35k.  (Busy day at the claim box for that barn; he also claimed Great Gracie Dane for 50k from R. Dutrow in the 1st.)  This is a two-year old daughter of rookie sire J Be K (Silver Deputy), who won the Bay Shore and Woody Stephens seemingly yesterday, and now stands in Arkansas for $2000.  He's off to a good start at stud with five winners from seven starters, with only 32 foals in the crop.  Rice to Riches is out of an unraced Tiznow mare, and this is the female family of Street Sense (they have the same third dam).

Dominick Schettino also off to a good start at the meet; he scored in the 6th with first-timer Meeker Avenue ($19.80), giving him three winners from nine starters thus far.  (And he also had a debut winner on closing day at Saratoga with Always in a Tiz).  Meeker Avenue is a 2yo colt by Read the Footnotes out of a Silver Deputy mare, and he's a half-brother to stakes winning Age of Humor.


Steve Zorn said...

Another recent departure from NYRA is Ken Cook, Senior VP for Operations and Security (aka chief cop). Cook's also, so I hear, headed for Penn National. No great loss there, in my opinion, as he was pretty heavy-handed, especially at Saratoga.

I fear the problem is that those who should go -- the folks who aren't doing a good job -- will be the ones who most desperately cling to their jobs. It isn't easy to find a management job in the shrinking race track world, and those folks will hang on until the last pay check.

Anonymous said...

Steve Duncker's four year NYRA Chairmanship term that was legislated per the racing franchise agreement, expired September 11, 2012. But, I suppose he's still a NYRA director until the Cuomo New-New NYRA Bill is signed and fresh appointments made? Hard to follow all the machinations in this deal.

Wallyhorse said...

The delays in the reports and other matters may be because of people “above” Cuomo:

It may very well be that national Democratic Party leaders may be telling Cuomo to be very careful on how to proceed with NYRA as it’s no secret Cuomo has aspirations of running for President in 2016, with the Party’s concern if so on not doing anything that might upset breeders in particular in Florida (since Florida breds make up a considerable number of the horses who race at NYRA tracks). It’s a seemingly minor-to-nonexistent issue in the rest of the country that is exactly the kind of issue if we have a repeat of 2000 that could cost Cuomo (if he became the Democratic nominee in 2016) Florida and the Democrats the White House if Cuomo moves the wrong way. It’s how it’s going to have to be for the next three years or so in my view if Cuomo indeed wants to run for President.

jk said...