Thursday, February 26, 2009

See you at Siro's

If you have to explain to someone where it is, than they do not know Saratoga. The Trackside Restaurant, frequented by track goers, trainers, owners and various hangers-ons is on the block for $3.1 million.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Saratoga Summer Bookings Up?

With the Derby trail underway, it is never to early to speculate about attendance during the 2009 Saratoga Meet. Tom Federlin of Racing City Realty was quoted in The Post Star as saying:
"My business is up significantly from last year at this time -- and last year was my best year."

Another Broker, Lori Leman, of Saratoga Realty Associates states:
"I think people who are calling up to rent a home are looking for bargains. They are interested in negotiating on price more so than in other years, but the thing is they still want to come to Saratoga"

My prediction in 3 words: Weather, Weather, Weather. Sunny comfortable days are the biggest factor in the size of the crowds at the Spa. Rain and high humidity will keep people away. The economy matters, but not as much as the weather.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Maybe this Twitter Thing Really Works

and I thought is was only to exchange meaningless updates about nothing to people who have way too much free time. Maybe Not....

You can follow the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance Twitter group here

Sunday, February 22, 2009

EA Sports focusing on 2 more sports for '09

and of them is not Horse Racing. EA Sports, the leader of sports related video games including the leading seller Madden NFL series is adding 2 new sports to the fold in 2009. The already have the NFL, the NHL, the NBA, NASCAR, NCAA Basketball The PGA and FIFA Soccer. In a soft economy, video game software and equipment has actually risen-2008 saw a sales gain of 19% over 2007. Despite the economy, sales are expected to grow and leading retailer Game Stop has forecast a 10-12% sales gain for 2009.

You would think any marketing agency for a sport would hitch its wagons to this silver bullet. In 2009 EA Sports will debut Tennis with the release of its EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) games are expected later in 2009. I always thought a Horse Racing Video game using the likeness of actual Jockeys , Race Tracks and Trainers would be a good seller and also relate the game player to the actual sport, must like Madden NFL helped make certain players more popular. You could add a fantasy betting element to the game also, as all good gamblers love their action, even on a fantasy level. Seems like Marketing 101 to me, but than again that's just me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Economy Must Really Be Bad

In a sure sign that the current state of the economy has reached the consciousness of the elite, The Saratogian reports that socialite and horse owner Mary Lou Whitney will not be throwing the annual Whitney Gala in Saratoga this August. The over the top gala's were a yearly tradition, a invitation only party thrown on the eve of the Whitney Stakes.

Mary Lou Whitney and her husband, John Hendrickson, will continue with their many other community efforts including contributing to a Sunday evening dinner program for all backstretch workers and their families.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Southwest Stakes-looking ahead

In Monday's Southwest Stakes (G3) Old Fashioned did what he had to do, putting away the game Silver City to win at Oaklawn Park.

Looking ahead, I was impressed with Flat Out who finished 4th. If you watch the replay of the race, you will note that Flat Out had a horrible start, getting left at the Gate, way behind the field. He closed nicely almost getting 3rd and seemed that he had alot of run left in him. I think he will be back at Oaklawn in the Rebel Stakes. This horse intrigues me, and you might want to put him on your watch list.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Migliore Joins Thorofan

Popular jockey Richard Migliore has joined the Advisory Board of ThoroFan, a national not-for-profit organization. Migliore was in Saratoga on Monday 02/09/09 to attend the groups meeting at Saratoga Gaming and Raceway. Migliore stated “This group excited a passion in me.” He continued, “I’m still a fan of the game and ThoroFan is the most positive step I’ve seen in a long time.”

ThoroFan also announced that Joseph E. Aulisi has joined the Advisory Board. Aulisi, long-time Saratoga resident is the Director of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

ThoroFan, a national not-for-profit organization, was founded in 2008 in Saratoga Springs, NY to bring fans of Thoroughbred racing together; to encourage fan participation and input; and to educate, entertain and grow the fan base of America’s first sport. The Thorofan website can be accessed at

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Animal Planet Jockeys Premiere Garners Impressive Ratings

We reached out to Discovery (parent company of Animal Planet Network) to get some feedback on last Friday Nights Premier of Jockeys.
"Animal Planet was thrilled with the premiere"
said Thali Kouperstein of Discovery. Kouperstein went on:
"The back to back premiere episodes (9-10pm) brought in more than 1 million unique P2+* viewers (1.014M). The ratings were a .6** household; a 50% increase from the year-ago timeslot average."

By comparison "Monk" seen on USA network had the most viewers of any cable show for the week ending February 8th, 2009 according to Nielsen Ratings Data released by The Nielsen Company . Monk had over 5 million viewers counting Live and DVR Same Day Viewing***. Ironically the very popular Monk went up head to head against Jockeys as it also ran in the 9-10 pm time slot on Friday night.

Considering there are over 14,000 airing of shows on cable every week, grabbing the amount of viewers Jockeys did is pretty impressive.

Notes: *: P2t means all persons over the age of 2
**:A household rating is the estimate of the size of a television audience relative to the total universe, expressed as a percentage
***: Live and DVR Same Day Viewing includes DVR playback on the same day, defined as 3 a.m.-3 a.m.

Sources: Discovery Network
The Nielsen Company

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chantal Sutherland Striking the irons

Seems like the breakout star of Animal Planet's Jockeys cable reality show will be Chantal Sutherland.

Every blog, news article or Internet site I have read that talks about the show mentions this talented Jockey including one serving as a lead in to a classroom lesson on purse structure breakdown 101.

For reading of a lighter nature you can pick up the latest issue of Horse Society Magazine, featuring Chantal on the Cover.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Stardom Bound on the Derby Trail-PETA, where are you?

The impressive 3 year old filly Stardom Bound enters the Derby Trail as she is slated to take on the Boys in the Santa Anita Derby on April 4th.

Egads! Surely PETA is on this case, especially in light of the campaign they led following filly Eight Belles' breakdown and euthanasia at the Kentucky Derby on May 3 of 2008. Here it is a year later and another filly is aiming for the Kentucky Derby.

Last Year PETA was up front and center with "reforms" they proposed to the racing industry including delay training and racing until after a horse's third birthday,
eliminating racing on dirt surfaces, limiting the number of races per season and banning whipping.

Now, less than 10 months later the Al Sharpton of the animal world is all quiet. Surely, I thought there must be some mention of this filly Stardom Bound on the PETA website, or at least some follow up on how the proposed "reforms" are going. Weren't they supposed to be "front and center" in stopping this cruel sport from continuing.

Well if you visit the home page of PETA, you would think horse racing has already been successfully banned all over the world, for there is no mention of it on the site, except for the archives section.

I figured they must mention something about the cruel Derby Trail and the merciless pointing of Stardom Bound to the Derby under the "What's New" section of the Home Page. Nope--under the "What's New" the top story is "Tell the NFL to Test Michael Vick for a Brain Disorder". There are 7 stories listed, none about horse racing. The number 6 story is "Save the Sea Kittens". Yes apparently fish are now sea kittens. I checked the Blog section of the site and no horse racing updates there.

You can however read about the campaign to get the home improvement chain "Lowe's" to ban glue traps which they feel is cruelly killing the poor little rats and mice. After all they have the right to infest your home.

Could it be they are waiting for another injury to happen on the Derby Trail before they pounce with the "Told ya so's"? Could it be possible that if this upstart filly Stardom Bound stays on the Derby Trail and comes home safely every time that PETA would ignore this story? Would like to be the bookmaker taking bets on that.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Jockeys-Review of Episode One

Jockeys premieres Friday at 9 pm, February 06, 2009, on Animal Planet. I received the press material kit and was able to watch episode one. My copy had no commercials so it was a crisp and very watchable 22 minutes. Episode one and Episode two will be shown back to back from 9pm-10pm on the 6th.

The series is a behind the scenes look at seven Jockeys. It was filmed at the 30 day Oak Tree meet @ Santa Anita this past fall. It is filmed in typical "reality TV" style with quick edits, voice overs, music beds and interviews of the jockeys.

Episode One, titled "Starting Gate" eases the viewer in, with the wise choice to introduce only 4 of the 7 jockeys featured in the series. The remaining 3 Jockeys are introduced in Episode two, titled "One Good Horse". We also get to see Zenyatta in Episode Two, and what fan would complain about that?

Episode one starts with a feature on the budding rivalry between 18 year old Jockey Joe Talamo and Aaron Gryder. The episode features both racing at Fairplex Park, two days before Opening day at Oak Tree. The episode than jumps to Santa Anita, where Canadian female Jockey Chantal Sutherland comes to California to race the Oak Tree meet. We learn that she has been dating Mike Smith for 1.5 years and will be moving into his condominium. Like all good reality shows, you got to have a romance, and it is clear that the producers will focus on this romance throughout the series.

Animal Planet does not pretend that the series is a hard core look at racing. The series narrator (never seen on camera) even describes basic information such as what a "scratch" is. The producers have written the narration as if they expect many of the viewers to be track maidens.

The press materials released by Animal Planet describe it as a "docu-soap". That is exactly what it is, and the series is heavily edited and packaged to emphasis the personalities of the Jockeys.

For those who only look at racing as "gaming" and not a sport, I doubt this show will appeal to you. If you only care about numbers and reading Past Performances don't even watch the show-you will hate it. You will not here the words "takeout" "ADW" or "Return on Investment" mentioned although they do not totally ignore gambling. Episode one features Jimmy the Hat, a professional gambler stating: "People come to the track to gamble, they are on a drug called action, and from they moment they place a bet, to when the bet is over, that is what makes this whole thing work".

But gambling takes a back seat in this series with the emphasis on the competitiveness between the jockeys, the on-going romance between Smith and Sutherland, and the danger. They amp up the danger aspect of the sport and show a couple of falls during episode one, including one on Opening Day at Oak Tree.

Overall the production quality of the series is excellent. It is a very visually appealing show to watch. Animal Planet is available on most cable systems in High Definition, and I had the benefit of watching episode one in HD.

If you like action, like the sports side of racing, and like learning about the "drama" of the Jockeys involved in the sport, this is a show for you.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Groundhog Day

6 more weeks of winter...Ya think? The snowbanks rise higher around the quite Saratoga Race Course as we wait for winter to end, knowing we really have a solid 2 months left of snow, ice, and cold. Keeping me hopeful is the knowledge, that with the Super Bowl over, it will not be long till Pitchers and Catchers and for a clearer Derby contender list to emerge.

As for the Super Bowl, the game was great, Bruce was great, (snagged 4 tickets today for the Albany NY concert 5/14) and my favorite commercial featured Horses.