Sunday, February 7, 2010

Horse Racing Survival 3 - Some Good, Some Bad

I want to start this with the announcement that the owner of Oaklawn Park has upped the purse of the Apple Blosom Stakes to 5 million dollars if Zenyata and Rachael Alexander agree to run in that race. Following is what I wrote mainly on Pricci's columns as to what can be a great event. This might seem a bit disjointed. my apologies.

1.On JP’s blog, I posted this line. THE PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT IT! And not just racing fans. This could be one of the few events that transcend the normalcy of the sport. Only the Derby (not even the Breeder’s Cup Races) commands this much attention, especially from the casual and normally non-fan. Yet the mention of this race is bringing Derby kind of talk and publicity. Can one race save racing? No. But as long as folks like Charles Cella and others are willing to lay it on the line, there is still hope.

As to the two would be competitors. Only if both are fit! We do not know how race ready either one is. I would expect nothing less of either camp then to do what is right for their horse, and if that means the Apple Blossom is too soon, so be it. I’m sure both will need a tightener of some kind and even a tiny setback could goof up the timeline.

Again, my broken record sound and all. People are talking about this. For whatever reason, it has caught the nation’s fancy as few races ever have. And if it comes to fruition, if we end up with four or five races between these two horses, if they are as close and as thrilling as the Affirmed/Alydar matchups as an example, this could very well be like another Seabiscuit story.

Bottom line here. This race and hopefully a series of races between these two are in the public eye! That is good for racing on every level if it attracts the less then casual fan! Which of course leads to my usual disdain for the industry leaders, politicians and others who have let our great sport slowly die.

2. As you know, I have more then once called for consolidation and at least some modicum of co-operation. I’ll paraphrase something I said in the Hialeah postings that is true for all of racing and which you so elegantly state in your last paragraph.

Here is a chance for someone, anyone to lead! Listen up everyone in the the horse racing industry! You’re running out of chances. Show us we are wrong! The problem is as always. To many egos, political shenanigans, and corporations forgetting the basics of any business! The customer!”

3: JP is 100% correct! He asks where is the damned leadership?

The main problem though is an industry that has lost touch with itself! Most tracks are now run by bottom line corporations that quite honestly don’t give a damn about racing of any kind. To expensive! Slots. That’s the answer! And so on and so on.

So in my view, as JP says, we need consolidation as one entity, governed by one set of rules and ownership that cares about racing! So I say again as JP does. “Where is the damn leadership?” Are we now so berift of ideas that it is in fact to late? Has this industry regressed completely into the welfare state of mind that pervades so much of society? Unless this industry can act as one, remember the fan, make up for the fact that they ignored two generations of potential fans and somehow stop shooting themselves in the feet, all is then lost.

4: Finally, I can't help but throw in a comment that in many ways relates to the complete sad state of racing in this country. Goes with the last few paragraphs quite well.

As all know by now, the Governer of New York finally named a slot operator for Aqueduct. Rather then go ballistic on this, I'm throwing in comments from various media and industry people.

From the NY Times (imagine this one. A far left paper wanting an investigation of a Democrat!): "The Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, is so angry about the results that he wrote the governor warning that he would not sign off on the deal until certain conditions are met, including assurances that no one connected to this company has been denied gaming licenses elsewhere or convicted of a crime in the last 15 years.

Mr. Silver may have preferred another bidder. But his demands seem more than reasonable. He should also insist that the governor release documents showing how this bid was chosen. It shouldn’t stop there.

The Aqueduct deal begs to be investigated. Mr. Cuomo; the Commission on Public Integrity; the state’s inspector general, Joseph Fisch; the comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli — at least one of them should be on the case."

From the NY Daily News: Gov. Paterson's top lawyer conceded Friday that politics was a key factor in picking the winning bidder for an Aqueduct "racino."

Peter Kiernan's stunning revelation came as Paterson hustled to cast the controversial selection of Aqueduct Entertainment Group as squeaky clean, insisting the losers who told of secretive and shady dealings were voicing sour grapes.

From the NY Post: "Meanwhile, sources involved in the discussions told The Post that Paterson's senior advisers had favored other bidders as more qualified than AEG in terms of financial resources and gaming experience.

Those advisers include Secretary Larry Schwartz, Lottery Director Gordon Medenica and Budget Director Bob Megna.

"AEG was not recommended by the governor's senior staff at any time," said a source involved in the discussions.

Another legislative source said it was the biggest Paterson fiasco since his botched handing of the naming of a successor to Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate seat.

Sources also said a preliminary assessment of the top six racino bidders by the Lottery Division listed AEG near the bottom of the pack"

Why do I bring this up? In a nutshell we have on exhibit one of the main problems racing is faced with in this country! It's not just New York. As I have said many times in the past, just look at the dysfunctional family known as New Jersey. Look at California or Kentucky, the so called Home of Racing! Everywhere in this land political hacks combined with out of touch bottom line corporations are destroying the very fabric of the sport! The very heart of this sport is being ripped out of the carcass by loony tune hacks. The Golden Goose is now an ugly duckling thanks to the ineptness and greed of the industry and polticians all of whom felt the free money would keep rolling in.

And saddest thing of all is that the industry still has a problem in helping itself! An opportunity exists right now with the proposed race mentioned above to hit a publicity home run. There are not many chances left to save this sport, as I have stated before. Are any of the industry leaders listening? Are the commissions listening? Does anyone really care anymore?

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