Thursday, May 27, 2010

I'll Shake to that.

Good news comes twice this week for those planning to spend the summer at Saratoga Race this summer. First we learn of the New York State legislature’s approval of a $25 million loan which will enable racing to continue at Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and Aqueduct Racetrack.

Then, On Wednesday, we learn that the Union Square Hospitality Group will operate 2 racetrack versions of their NYC restaurants at the Spa, Blue Smoke and Shake Shack.

I now have a new schedule upon my visits to the Spa, especially during weekdays, when I duck in midday while in between work appointments, catch a few races, that hit the road again.

The new schedule: Enter through clubhouse side entrance, walk about 50 yards, turn left into Paddock Tent, get in line for Shake Shack, order ShackBurger with Iced Tea, study Daily Racing Form and people watch while eating, bet a few races, contemplate buying Vanilla Shake from Shake Shack on my way out to resume rest of workday.

Finish work day, Run 3 miles upon arriving home.

If Vanilla Shake purchased run 6 miles.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Only in New York

Only in New York can someone make a deal with the state, have New York State than stiff you and you look like the bad guy. New York State has contractually owed money to NYRA since 03/31/10 but NYRA was given the big FU by the State and on top of that NYC-OTB has stopped paying what they owe to NYRA. Of course if you read any of the local news media comments sections online or the "letters to the Editor" section you would think NYRA officials are robbing the State instead of the other way around.

Tonight the NY State Senate and Assembly has passed an emergency extender budget bill which includes a $25 million loan to NYRA. Can you imagine some of the inane comments to follow in the coming days. Maybe one like this commenter to the Times Union who signed his comment "State Worker":

"I, like many colleagues, do not care if the racing season continues now or ever. It is unfortunate that state dollars are used to support an industry marked by poor management and NOT VITAL to the state’s long term interests while education and other prioroities(sic) suffer. Perhaps those currently in positions of leadership are blind to the depth of the public’s disappointment and distruct(sic) of their performance. I cannot support or condone the NYRA bailout while the state lacks a budget or vision for its fiscal welfare. It is time that we all share the pain and burden of corrective action and not cater to a few special interests."

Guess "State Worker" doesn't realize racing is a New York State Industry that pays almost 40 million in direct tax payments each year and millions more in state payroll taxes.

The $25 million dollar loan must be repaid by March 31, the end of this fiscal year, or 30 days after a deal with a VLT vendor is reached. Governor Paterson wants a deal by August. Any bets on when a VLT deal will actually happen? Only in New York.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

NYRA gets bad break in Headline Games

Yesterday Jessica Chapel reported on the gross error in The Blood-Horse headline depicting Governor Paterson's comments that he is working on a "bailout" loan to the New York State Racing Association (NYRA). It is not a bailout, plain and simple. NYRA is only asking for money that was contractually promised to them by 3/31/10 should no VLT operation be in place by that date.

Now NYRA gets errantly slapped in the face again with the The Times Union (Albany, NY) headline in Today's print and online edition titled:
"Bailout Loan for NYRA in Works"

Worse yet, in the print edition of the paper, the same blaring headline ran in an "above the fold" story on Page one. How many people only read the headline and kept going, convinced in their mind that our State government is "bailing out" NYRA when all NYRA is asking is that the government meet their contractual obligation under the 2008 Franchise agreement and issue the money to NYRA that is legally owed to them.

I know times are tough in the media world, but they do pay headline editors still, don't they?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Post Preakness Thoughts

I found it interesting that Donna Barton-Brothers of NBC noted while Super Saver was loading into the gate that he had lost weight since the Kentucky Derby.

I wondered if anyone in the media had reported in the week leading up to the race if Super Saver looked like he had lost weight. I searched the Daily Racing Form, Bloodhorse, all the blogs, the workout reports, etc and found nothing everywhere I searched. In fact most of what I read said he looked good and quoted how he was eating well. Maybe the best way to handicap is rely less on reporting and go to the Paddock yourself and look at the horse before you place your bet.

Looks like only one horse will race in all Triple Crown Races this year-Dublin. Imagine that we start with 20 horses in the Derby and only 1 can navigate through the whole series. How does that stimulate interest in the fan who starts his year following the road to the Derby?

Maybe if NBC gets all 3 races next year, they can do what was done in the past- line up a Sponsor and pony up money for any horse who enters all 3 and a larger bonus amount if they manage to win the Triple Crown. Will help the network with sustaining interest(ratings) and might entice a few owners/trainers to actually have a goal of running in all three.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Preakness Proposition Over/Under Bets

We hit only 3 out of 8 of our Kentucky Derby Prop Bets. Lets see how we do with the Preakness




NBC Final Nielsen Rating


Under-Can’t see it beating ’09 when it hit 6.8 with Rachel/Mine That Bird

How Many Horses will Start



Finish Position of Lookin at Lucky


Under: He has to get Lucky one of these days, why not now?

Attendance at Pimlico


Over-Last year drew 78,000, Get Your Preak on infield marketing will easily top this

Non Derby Starters finishing in the Money


It’s a Push-(Caracortado gets in)

Todd Pletcher Horses finishing in the Money


Push-Super Saver in, Aikenite out

Blind Squirrel WPS Picks: Lookin at Lucky, Paddy O'Prado, Caracortado

For the latest Preakness News, Predictions, and PP data check out our home page at

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's all about the Jockey

Usually it is all about the horse, come Triple Crown time, but as we head into the Preakness Stakes it appears most of the attention is on the Jockeys. This year 3 Jockeys are getting more media coverage than any of the horses.

First we have the Borel Factor, that being, just bet on any horse being ridden by Calvin Borel in the Triple Crown Series. Seriously, any newcomer to the sport must be saying, this is an easy game-The guy won on Street Sense, on Mine That Bird, on Rachel Alexandra, and now on Super Saver. Just bet on Borel and cash your ticket.

Jockey Garrett Gomez has been getting his share of ink as the Jockey no longer riding the unlucky Lookin at Lucky. Baffert, trying the change the goalie trick, has told Gomez to hop on someone else as he most likely will give the mount to Martin Garcia.

And finally Kent Desormeaux, who rode Paddy O’Prado to a 3rd place finish, garners headlines for his perceived lackluster finish above O’Prado, who got passed at the wire by hard charging Ice Box. Kent has been very vocal in defense of his ride claiming Paddy O’Prado hit a hole in the track and it caused him to lose balance so he switched his leads. I watched the replay a couple of times and it is hard to see if O'Prado stepped in a hole or not but the horse did change leads.

If you have the time I recommend you listen to a highly entertaining interview of Derosmeaux by Steve Byk over at Thoroughbred Racing Radio Network. Kent was in Bermuda for some R&R at the time and it is quite possible he had a cocktail or two before the interview.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

2010 Kentucky Derby TV Ratings Analysis

The final Nielsen TV rating for the 2010 Kentucky Derby was 9.8 with 16.5 million viewers on NBC. For a comparison on how this compares with the 4 major Pro Sports here is a look at Television ratings for the finals in each sport. In order to accurately compare we took a game in the finals for each sport that was broadcast on a weekend.





NFL Football

Super Bowl (Saints v. Colts)



MLB Baseball

World Series Game 4 (Yanks v. Phillies



Horse Racing

2010 Kentucky Derby



NBA Basketball

’09 Finals Game 5 (Lakers v. Magic)



NHL Hockey

’09 Finals Game 5 (Penguins v. Red Wings)



Source: Nielsen Media Research

A big field, a chance to to put together a valve bet, a fun atmosphere, kinda makes it easy to watch.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Kentucky Derby Deputy Sheriff of Television Sports Events

Like the Super Bowl, year after year, the Kentucky Derby continues to grow as an "event" to watch.

The 2010 Kentucky Derby had a 10.3 overnight rating beating last years rating of 10.2. The 10.3 number is the highest-rated overnight for the Kentucky Derby since Lil E Tee won in 1992.

The Derby is properly marketed not as a sport, but as an event by NBC (Lets hope they get to broadcast the entire triple crown series once ABC is finished with the Belmont this year). It doesn't matter that the field looked weak on paper this year. Do you not watch the Super Bowl if you think the two teams are weak? Of course not.

The Super Bowl is the Sheriff of American Television sporting events, but the Derby serves well as the Deputy Sheriff.

Source: Nielsen Media Research