Monday, December 28, 2009

Take No Prisoners

As 2009 draws to a close and we approach 2010 many of us are taking a look at the changes this decade has thus far brought us.

To me the technological changes in the media field have been vast, particularly how the consumer gets his news, both general interest news and specific news in nature. It appears that most of us get it for free, and like well fed consumers buying cheap goods at Wal-Mart, we like it that way.

With regard to obtaining racing news content I get most of my news and information on free websites and blogs. I start with the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance (TBA) homepage each morning where I can access anything I want to know from both TBA and non-TBA bloggers on the big Stakes races, National and International Issues as well as issues of a specific interest to me such as the ongoing NYRA slots issue.

I'll still buy the Daily Racing Form when I am at the track, ( I think I would feel naked without a copy of it under my arm) but other than that, the writing available on the web is so good, so well researched and accurate I don't need to pay for a newspaper or subscriber website to get the information I am looking for.

I have no problem paying for quality content, I just don't know how you make it work, when the information available now for free is of equal quality. In fact on the NYRA issue alone no paid newspaper can compare on a consistent basis to the information I have read from my brethren at the TBA including Alan at Left at the Gate and Steve at The Business of Racing.

For more on this issue, the NY Times reports on publishers trying to reverse the trend, by setting up systems where some of the online content will be available for paying subscribers only.

However, it may be too late. The most telling comment in the whole NY Times article is this quote from media consultant Alan D. Mutter:

“One of the problems is newspapers fired so many journalists and turned them loose to start so many blogs,” Mr. Mutter said. “They should have executed them. They wouldn’t have had competition. But they foolishly let them out alive.”

Monday, December 21, 2009

New York Racing-50 years ago & Today

Sometimes things really don't change, they just happen over and over again.

Sports Illustrated writer Whitney Tower in an article 50 years ago dated September 14, 1959 wrote:
...Thoroughbred racing in New York has had some great days. But it has also been saddled with an apathy and an inertia that at times forced New York to take a back seat to such race-conscious states as New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Florida, Illinois and California, where year after year striking new tracks sprang up to attract the sports-minded pubic.
But in 1959 New York got its new track, a brand spanking new Aqueduct and it opened that fall with much success.

On December 20, 1959 The New York Times ran an article with this lead line from author Joseph C Nichols:
"Horse racing in New York enjoyed the most prosperous financial season in its history as a result of the opening of the new Aqueduct track in September"
Fast forward 50 years to 2009 where now New York once again has been saddled with an apathy and an inertia that at times forced New York to take a back seat, this time falling behind in the slots mania, a now 8 year long and counting debacle brought to you by our wonderful New York Legislature.

Perhaps exaggerated a bit (by quotes from Charles Hayward of NYRA), but now on December 21, 2009 we get this article from the NY Daily News with this paragraph:
A top racing official says the Belmont Stakes- the third leg of the fabled Triple Crown - could be scratched this year because the governor and legislators can't agree on a plan to revitalize the state's premiere racetracks.
At least 50 years ago, it seemed optimism was at least alive, whereas now most of us just expect to get shafted.

Much like our Federal Government over the last 8 years, The New York Legislature falls deeper and deeper into dysfunction, not doing much but lining their own pockets where all but the most naive wait in line to see OZ.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Easy Gambling

The average U.S. residents large appetite for easy and fast gambling continues. According to the Census Bureau's annual Statistical Abstract of the United States, U.S. residents last year spent over $53.4 billion on lottery tickets, up from $52.4 billion in the previous year.

Most decided to skip the "more complicated" type of lottery where you have to pick a bunch of numbers, as about $3 of every $5 went toward instant scratch-off tickets. Despite a poor economy the numbers climbed from last year as they have every year-you can check out the numbers here (PDF)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Saratoga in the Snow

Aqueduct canceled its Wednesday card due to heavy rain and wind but it was all snow in Saratoga where about 8 inches of the white stuff fell in Saratoga Springs yesterday.

Photo Credit: Capital News 9 (Time Warner Cable)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Horse for Sale: Best Offer

For Sale:

5 year old Horse

Name: Christy's Night Out

Previous Sales History: $80,000 as a one year old to Bazaguma LLC from NY State former Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno convicted of Federal Corruption.

Current Value: Virtually worthless on the track but horse will have value as a conversation starter and symbol of our dysfunctional New York State Government. Serious inquiries only.

Off Track Sammy

If you happen to be flying in or out of Albany International Airport (Albany, NY) this Tuesday around 11 am you might want to stop by the new "Silks Saratoga Bistro" which is having it's grand opening at the Airport, replacing the Saranac Brew House in the Food Court. Sam Grossman,aka Sammy the Bugler, NYRA's official Bugler will be playing "Call to the Post" at 11 am. If you are around stop by and say Hello to him.

Sam is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. I have had the opportunity to speak with him several times. Most people at the track are friendly, but lets face it,some are complete jerks and quite unapproachable. Sam is always approachable, always nice and also quite knowledgeable about the sport. He is someone you can count on, someone familiar, someone always there. When I am at a NYRA track, I know that 10 minutes before every race I can count on hearing Sammy playing "Call to the Post" better than anyone else can.