Things That Make You Go Hmmmm (2)

Ramblings on recent developments in horse racing:

One could argue that, after the latest General Assembly session in Kentucky, the legislature isn’t really serious about helping the horse racing and breeding industry. So with no legislative action, that leaves Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who could, with help from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, enact Instant Racing. … If the governor does so, the move will no doubt be used against him in his 2011 campaign for re-election, but does he really have much to lose since he campaigned for full casino gambling a few years ago? … And just how did most of those 11 “yes” votes in the Republican-controlled Senate Committee on State and Local Government magically become “no” votes in a matter of days? Seems the Republicans will have more questions than Beshear to answer.

It’s way too early to make a Kentucky Derby pick, but what more can you say about a horse who changes equipment and makes his first start on a new surface, and then overcomes serious trouble to win a Derby prep? We could be Lookin at the real deal here, and it has nothing to do with being Lucky.

Tioga Downs, a New York harness track with proactive management, is cutting its pari-mutuel takeout on all wagers during its live meet. Hello! Are there any Thoroughbred tracks out there willing to take a chance on this type of thing?

No matter which side you’re on in the “quality of racing” debate in Indiana, you’ve got to admit the dialogue is refreshing. State-bred incentive programs should be reviewed—but not necessarily dramatically altered—on a regular basis by all stakeholders. It’s surprising these types of discussions don’t occur publicly in other states, though transparency never was horse racing’s strong suit despite its repeated calls for it.

Is anyone else tired of the whole synthetic versus dirt argument? Can we please get on with our lives?

Atlantic City Race Course, one of my favorite topics: Does putting all six racing days into one week (April 18-24) this year mean promotion of a “racing festival” is planned, or was the change made so Greenwood could shutter Philadelphia Park for a week to make grandstand improvements in time for Derby weekend? … Greenwood owns both joints, and Philly Park doesn’t race on days Atlantic City is open so horsemen, jockeys, and staff can participate in the meet. … Total handle at last year’s Atlantic City meet quadrupled, but the condition book indicates no increase in purses for this year. Go figure.

Keeneland’s first two programs will be held Friday and Saturday (April 2-3) with a forecast of temperatures in the mid- to upper 70s and sunshine. … Look out! If you still don’t believe horse racing in a nice setting can draw a crowd, show up and see for yourself. … Thankfully, it may be too hot to have coffee with that powdered creamer in it.

And while we're in Kentucky, a big thank-you to all the horsemen that participated in the Turfway Park meet--it wasn't easy given the money situation--and provided a product for those of us who support racing year-round in the state AND SUPPORTED THE LOCAL AND STATE ECONOMY. You deserve better. (See Kentucky legislature.)

Will a New York operation that handles about $1 billion a year on horse racing shut down in a few weeks? There’s probably as much a chance of that happening as the Saratoga meet being canceled.

If there isn’t a meeting of the minds between Ohio horsemen and River Downs very soon on racing dates and purses, we will all be spending a lot more time at Cheryl’s Tiki Bar adjacent the paddock, sunning ourselves and whining about Ohio racing more than usual—and maybe drinking more than usual, too. That condition book ain’t a pretty sight.

(Thanks to C&C Music Factory for the headline.)


Leave a Comment:


Just wanna say: yay! Woodbine for being a great track for running horses and horse people.

Maybe Santa Anita should send some reps. to check it out?

30 Mar 2010 2:18 PM

I like Tioga Downs idea of cutting back on the takeout. A step in the right direction. Atlantic City doesn't need to raise purses. That can come later after they get more fans to come there. And to do that they need to give something back to the fans. Even Delaware Park Slots gives people money twice a month to come there. It can be from $10-$200, depending on how much you bet the month before.

Horse racing tracks don't want to give anything to fans. Seems like everything is geared toward the horsemen. For me it's all about winning money. I could care less if it is Zenyatta or a $5,000 claimer running. They are all just horses. Some better than others.

30 Mar 2010 6:39 PM


Do you have any clue what it costs to race a horse? Go play slots you baffoon.

30 Mar 2010 7:17 PM

LaMarra is a throwback to the Turf writers of old. It's a shame horse racing has lost it's luster and the press sees no value covering the sport.

30 Mar 2010 9:19 PM

Not a good tasteful joke here, but I think it still needs to be said.

In the case of New York, it really does seem to be a case of...."The Blind Leading The Blind."

Sorry, but still felt like it needed to be said.

30 Mar 2010 9:40 PM


31 Mar 2010 3:27 AM

Maybe Woodbine is great to you but as a gambler it sucks. The takeout is ridiculous. I won't play there and give those thieves any of my $$$$$$.

31 Mar 2010 7:20 AM

Maybe we could start a Track Coffee Party Tom. (see Tea Party) Get some legislation done government!

31 Mar 2010 8:46 AM

ramblings at the kentucky training center yesterday about the future of racing and kentucky breeders program: let sales tax on stallion seasons go toward breeders' awards and race supplements. this idea would show the larger community horsemen are serious about fixing their own problems instead of relying on state handouts. the opposition to the idea is coming from stallion shareholders in upper range who don't want to pay sales tax on expensive seasons they trade with each other. average horseman loves idea, they are already paying sales tax and would see the money go to the sport.

31 Mar 2010 11:05 AM

Atlantic City Race Course is the better of the two courses. My recent trip to left a lot to be desired. But in reality, Philly folks won't drive the fifty-five plus extra miles, to wager when it's a local bus ride away. My favorite memory of A.C.Raceway was when Gee Cantagallo won six races in one night, of which I had four.

31 Mar 2010 12:02 PM


I don't play the slots. They are a waste of time and money. The reason they give out money is because they know that they will get it right back.

Have no idea what it cost to race a horse. But I guess you better have some money to do it. Probably very few make a living doing so.

And without the fans, there would not be any horse racing. They have other things that they can bet on.

And for name calling. Let me call you a jerk.

31 Mar 2010 1:34 PM

When you look back at racing's heyday .... did we have all of this?? Everything ran oh so smoothly .... the hometown breeder had a chance to make a living ... the stands full of racing fans ...

so what happened ... somebody decided to make it a big $$$$

business .... ho humm

31 Mar 2010 4:26 PM

Regarding your third topic, both Ellis Laurel Parks tried reducing take out recently with spectacularly miserable results.

31 Mar 2010 7:08 PM

Though the handle numbers were impressive last year, the simulcast of the AC meet generated a whopping $50K toward purses while overall simulcast-in handle for the year declined substantially, therefore the purses remained the same. Thought AC may only run 1 day for $1M in purses, just as a prep for the Monmouth meet!

01 Apr 2010 7:12 AM


I think you hit it on the head again. Kentucky, Ohio, and all points on the map could take a lesson in listening to what a real Turf writer sees. I think we have lost focus, and there are people in charge who treat racing like working in a widget factory, or fast-food joint..... Keep up the good work !!

03 Apr 2010 12:32 AM

Just attended the closing day of the 2010 Atlantic City Race Course's Turf Festival. Some observations that will stay with me for some time and might result in more than a few articles:

[1] Explain how 8,500 people show up with virtually no advertising. There is something happening here related to boutique meets that people in general and Greenwood in particular need to notice.

[2] The six-day all meet handle jumped by huge numbers again and attendance on-track was up at record high numbers. Take it from me--the Saturday closing day grandstand/apron was packed and reminded of Belmont Sundays back in the late 70s and early 80s.

[3] The turf course is a gem and the dirt course could well be once again. With the cut in New Jersey dates, is there a window for ACRC to move into the Thoroughbred game again?

[4] Yes, the ACRC physical plant has certainly gone down hill since the 1990s. However, despite this, people are coming--in droves.

Folks, there is something special happening here. In an odd sense, it is magical. You would have had to have been at ACRC on Saturday, April 24, 2010 to understand it.

25 Apr 2010 5:10 PM

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