Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Coulda Woulda Shouda

Love reading all the post crisis sanctimonious ramblings after the PETA undercover investigation was released. I heard about it first by reading  Joe Drape's NY Times article .

My first reaction was "oh wow that's not going to be good".

But then I watched it a second time, looking closely and listening for any "illegal activity". Didn't really see or hear anything definitive at least as far as illegal treatment of the horses in the video put out by PETA. Some chatter about buzzer use, but even that was very unclear and perhaps a story of a long time ago.
There was some talk of illegal hiring practices of backstretch workers.

But is that Racing's problem or say The NY Department of Labor (some of  the investigation by PETA  took place in Saratoga). Everytime my business adds even a part time worker to the payroll I get workers comp and NYS Disability notices up the wazhoo.

Where was the Workers Comp Board and Labor Dept on this? Shouldn't we be asking them when was the last workers comp audit they did?  How about the IRS or the various State Tax Departments. Any recent audits? notices? request for payroll records? How about the NYS Gaming Commission? Same goes for all the various Kentucky boards and departments?

If these various entities can't do their job, you think a Federal Governing body for racing will?

But no coulda woulda shoulda's from me. I view the game for what it is (or at least how I  see it) : a mostly on the level game filled with a ton of people who love to compete (owners, trainers, equine athletes, horseplayers) with a bunch of crazies mixed in with a sprinkling of miscreants.

The game is filled with colorful characters, and a ton drink, swear, eat and smoke too  much and many gamble the mortgage money away each month. Some of these characters will always push the envelope and will continue to do that in 2014 and 2024 and onward.  Don't see how that is ever gonna change. I'm OK with that, mostly because I already know that it is what  it is..

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A word on Moran

It is with sadness that I note the passing of award winning journalist Paul Moran, dead at only 66.
He was a wordsmith till the end with his last column published on the ESPN website on 10/28/13.

New York City metro readers of old will remember him from Newsday, back in the day when the NY Post, NY Daily News and Newsday all had multiple pages on racing every day. That's almost all gone now as are the days of racetrack patrons walking around the track with the entries and writer selections cut out from their favorite NY tabloid sticking out of their hand or back pocket. 

Here in upstate NY I can still read the daily entries and selections of the NYRA tracks in my local paper of choice, The Times Union, but how much longer will that last?

I will miss Moran and his way with words and his biting wit that would shine through in his columns. The game goes on, just now without one of its' best writers.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Breeders Cup 2013 Halftime Thoughts

Day One of Breeders Cup 2013 is in the books. Here are my thoughts thus far:

Track Bias anyone? I'm no expert but looked like a speed track to me. Following those who do seem to know on Twitter it seemed most agreed track was souped up for speed.

 And Todd Pletcher had this to say after watching the Dirt Mile : "“This track is so speed favoring and everyone is just send, send, send. It changes everything.”

Watching on TV the crowd seemed full but not that lively. Attendance listed at 35,833 but I saw plenty of empty seats.

NBC did  ok with Day 1 broadcast. Plenty of coverage before each race of the Paddock and Post Parade with Odds constantly running on bottom of screen. Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey did usual good jobs.

 But don't understand the purpose of the miles per hour time shown during the race. Why do this when the viewer is used to seeing split times all year long watching simulcast races? 

Friday, October 25, 2013



As the Breeders Cup 2013 version fast approaches, Here are some thoughts from this neck of the woods:

Things go up, things go down. Maybe you caught Keith Olberman's show on ESPN2 this week about baseball television ratings. In 1971 37 Million people watched a Sunday afternoon Pirates World Series Game 3 win over the Baltimore Orioles. There were 61 million people in the United States at the time.

The 2013 World Series average game so far has about 12 million watching out of 300 million people.

But we live in a different world now, flooded with endless choices of entertainment including cable systems that gives you hundreds of channel choices as opposed to the 5 channel choices you had in 1971. We could do anything at anytime, between our TV's, computer and Smartphone it is all there at our fingertips. Today a weekday, I can choose from 24 different live sports events from college football, Pro Hockey, Pro Soccer, Golf, College Hockey, College Soccer, NBA Exhibition and more to watch on my cable system. Tomorrow, Saturday, that number will go over 100.  Throw in non sports entertainment choices and the choices are in the thousands.

Baseball, like Horse Racing is still very popular and those who love it will do so devotedly. When considering the other choices out there, it's actually amazing how both games have endured and how, in Racing, how many people weed through all the choices and choose to watch and bet on it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Midsummer Derby-The Travers Stakes

With clear skies and comfortable temperatures the place to be on Saturday, August 24th, 2013 will be Saratoga Race Course. Yours Truly will be there all day roaming between the Clubhouse, the rail and the Paddock Post Bar area so stop and say Hi if you see me. Always fun to chat with fellow fans.

 This year's Midsummer Derby, the 144th Travers Stakes, features Palace Malice, the Belmont and Jim Dandy stakes winner, Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Haskell winner Verrazano. If you can't make it to the Track, The Travers will be shown live on NBC in a 90-minute broadcast that begins at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

Who do I like? For me I think Palice Malice continues to mature and move forward and I would not be surprised to see him win rather easily. As for the rest of the spots and my thoughts on the Trifecta, you can read my thoughts over at the Thorofan website

Monday, August 05, 2013

Whitney Weekend Attendance Look

No signs of the Debbie Downer articles after a weekend of spectacular weather at the Spa.

Saturday's Whitney Stakes Day crowd was 33,148 up from last years Whitney attendance of 30,841. 

All Source handle was up from last years $15,966,346 to $16,356,246.

On Sunday attendance was 24,133 up from last years Sunday crowd of 19,762. Handle was also up this year at $9,864,118 from last years $9,431,729.

Word is the Times Union (Albany NY) has abruptly cancelled their expanded investigative upcoming report on Saratoga declining attendance.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Saratoga Attendance and Handle Early Look

After an initial first week that had some folks out on social media questioning the first weeks relatively low Saratoga attendance, things have sprung back to normal this past weekend.

This Saturday's Jim Dandy card had an attendance of 25,375 and Handle of $15,999,087 beating last year's Jim Dandy Day attendance and handle figures of 24,548 and $13,164,684.

Sunday's T-Shirt Spinner #'s were 50,727 in attendance compared to last years first Sunday Spinner Day of 47,132. Total Handle this past Sunday was 10,809,456 beating last years figure of 10,047,879.

The first week figures were down due to one reason-the oppressive heat. Weather will and always has been a huge factor in Saratoga Attendance #'s, particularly affecting the local and day tripper attendees decision on whether or not to show up at the track.This week was beautiful and the numbers jumped back up.

It amazes me each year how the Debbie Downer's of the world will jump on low attendance figures as an indication of something wrong with racing, the Spa, etc. instead of looking at the # 1 factor-weather. More and more people are getting use to the ease and convenience of betting year round via a betting account linked too a smart phone, tablet or desktop. Only the best meets with the best weather days will bring the folks out (as well as the corny Sunday Spinner Giveaways). 

Opening weekend was particularly affected as we were basically in the 3rd week of a sustained heat wave and I really believe people were so frustrated of going out in this heat. But now the heat as broken and all is back to normal at the Spa.