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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thursday Night Notes..

 - Or perhaps you're reading on Friday!  I wrote about Social Inclusion and the speculation over his possible sale over at the TimeformUS blog here.

- Been meaning to mention this article from a few days ago in the Albany Times Union.  It generally concerns the buzz of activity in the Capital Region, apparently spurred by the anti-casino sentiment in Saratoga Springs.  Which once seemed like a lock, doesn't appear to be one anymore.  At least to eager developers.

Christopher Tague, a planner with Howe's Cave Development, said the owners of the Schoharie County tourist operation recently began marketing 330 acres for a casino. The late thrust came after observing the local opposition to the Saratoga racino site for a casino, Tague said.

"We didn't think we had a shot because we figured Saratoga was going to be the place; we thought it was a done deal," he said. "We find out it's not the case at all."
Still, I remain convinced that unless one's name starts with an F and runs some 16 letters long, he/she is not going to be the casino license holder for the region.  Now, Jimmy Feathers did, for the first time, indicate that he would accept input from the community.
"We're going to wait until the application comes out, assess what we feel we would need to do to bid for the Saratoga site, seek advice from the mayor and the county leaders and then make a decision," said Featherstonhaugh.
But he said he was "not prepared to comment" on whether he had a Plan B backup site.  You can be sure that he does.

 - This was an odd story from last week regarding a State Senate budget proposal that would permit slots - of sorts - at JFK Airport!
The Senate proposal would make video slots available to JFK visitors through their iPads -- there would be no actual machines in the airport, the Senate's Republican conference confirmed. The video slots could be accessed only beyond TSA checkpoints in departure terminals.  That provision would aim to block gamblers from descending on the airport just to play the virtual one-armed bandits.  [Newsday]
Seriously, man?  Talk about a captive audience!  Well, I guess that's easier than constructing an El subway line up Rockaway Blvd, one of the ridiculous proposals of past years that have deservedly gone by the wayside.  Just like this one.

 - The talk on Thursday was of course over Joe Drape's article in the Times about the PETA undercover investigator who infiltrated the operation of Steve Asmussen.  I imagine you've seen it, and I'm not going to go into the gory details here; and besides, I have not had a chance to watch the videos. Still, it's obvious from reading the article that Asmussen and Scott Blasi have some explaining to do.

It's important however that they have the opportunity to do so before judgement is passed.  As we've seen in the past, when groups with an agenda send people undercover to surreptitiously record videos, and then present the parts of them that they want you to see, it's important to let all of the facts come out before drawing a conclusion.  Having said that, in whatever context that we ultimately take what was said and done in the videos, I highly doubt that much of it is limited exclusively to the Steve Asmussen barn.  Whether that means that certain trainers - and not all of the them to be sure - are operating on the edge, or a giant step beyond it - remains to be seen.

 - In the second at Gulfstream on Friday, Flashy Brass (12-1) returns to the turf in her third career start after a dismal try on dirt.  Dismissed at 97-1 in her debut, this three-year old daughter of Flashy Bull was left at the gate in the one mile grass race, and then swung extremely wide into the first turn.  She was 2-3 wide on the second turn as well, before tipping out to the five path and rallying past all but the top three, earning a competitive TimeformUS speed figure.  Each of those ahead of her came back to win turf routes, improving their figures in the process.  Here, she wheels right back after the dirt non-effort, picks up Rosario, and drops in claiming tag, from the grass race, from 75K to 50K here.  Main problem with playing this filly is the poor starts in each of her first two races.  But she definitely showed ability in that grass race, so I think she'd be worth a play at those kind of odds.  Teeth of the Tiger (5-2) has the best TFUS speed figures and Castellano, and is the main threat.


Anonymous said...

Alan -- have you had a chance to watch the video yet? My take is that the two people who look the worst are Gary Stevens and Lukas, both making jokes about buzzers and their use. And while Blasio comes off as a foul-mouthed, unlikeable character, I really didn't see anything in the video that would fall outside the definition of "standard" training practices. I'm also glad that during the entire undercover "sting", only ONE horse died, and that was from colic (which plagues horses of all breeds, on an unfortunately regular basis). Rest assured that if other horses died (or had been physically mistreated in any way), it would have surely turned up on that video. Thoughts?

Alan Mann said...

I have started to muddle my way through. Thus far, I agree with what you say about Blasi. And it is not explained that Nehro's death was not related to his foot problem.

When you hear statements like: "From birth to death, most horses used for racing are treated like disposable commodities," it shows exactly where PETA is coming from, and why this needs to be treated with skepticism until the facts emerge and the context is established.

El Angelo said...

Criticizing PETA's rhetoric and the NY Times' reporting methods (like what Crist does in his piece yesterday) are fair but at the end of the day besides the point. The video is horrible, the comments made by Blasi make him completely unsympathetic, and I agree with Anon's point on Lukas and Stevens. A nice sport that's constantly being criticized responding by blaming the messenger looks weak and feeble.

Just imagine how horrible it'll look if Tapiture wins the Derby, or worse, Asmussen gets elected to the Hall of Fame.

Figless said...

The Foot issues that Nehro seemingly raced through seem pretty severe. And while there is no obvious relation to his eventual death, overuse of some pain meds can lead to colic.

Despite my distaste for PETA I find myself strangely please they undertook this mission as it now forces EVERY trainer to be on their toes. If it stops one horse from being abused it is worth the negative publicity.

That stated, I suspect that this was not the ONLY undercover agent they sent into a barn, and if this was the worst they could find then the problem is not as severe as they claim.

Complaining about Dr. Hunt administering Lasix? C'mon, gimme a break.

Anonymous said...

Figless -- since Nehro only raced a couple of times (I think) since 2012, it doesn't seem that he was actually "racing through" his foot issues, but rather was sidelined (at least in part) BECAUSE of them. The video made it sound like they just kept racing a former 3YO star despite his ailments, but that just doesn't seem to be the case at all.

Figless said...

Reportedly he ran within a week before that video with the hoof hole, so he clearly did run with that hoof. That much damage didn't happen over night.

Obviously the owners agree as they are taking their horses away from the trainer.

Anonymous said...

Figless, are you referring to the Zayats? The people who lied to the media about the whereabouts and status of Paynter? Who owned Thorn Song, who also mysteriously disappeared for months before he re-surfaced? I'd be careful about casting them as the paragons of integrity and indignation in this situation.

SaratogaSpa said...

Watched the video twice and at first glance comes across highly edited with quick jumps all over the place.

seems tailored for those not aware of racing specifics such as in the description of the claiming game. For some balance why not show Blasi excited about picking up a claimed horse from someone else?

My only concern would be the Lukas/Stevens talk of the Buzzers-need some context or explanation otherwise it just looks bad.