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.)