A sudden celebrity…no, not me…

So clearly there is little point in my trying to craft interesting, timely reflections about horse racing. All I have to do is pray for one of the cats to hit a bomb, note it online…and voilá! Record traffic; multiple comments; links from esteemed websites; and lotsa e-mail. I kid you not–more people came to this site today than did when Equidaily linked my post about web searches for synthetic vs. dirt surfaces. If this sounds like complaining, it’s not…just sheer amazement. And I gotta tell you: the cat’s head is beginning to match his fairly sizable girth. Check out his Friday pick. Cocky or what? Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Matt Hegarty in the Daily Racing Form writes about Mayor Bloomberg’s threat to close down OTB in New York City because the city-owned organization can’t meet its payment obligations and because “…Years of state legislative schemes that favored racing interests over NYCOTB, at the expense of essential city services, have forced the city into a financially untenable situation in which city taxpayers are, in effect, asked to subsidize the state racing industry” (DRF). In a statement, Bloomberg also noted that that the fee that OTB has to pay to tracks, breeders, and NYRA, et al, “unfairly imposed a burden on NYCOTB, in part because it taxed the company’s handle, rather than its revenue” (DRF).

Haven’t I heard this song before? Something about a racing-related organization being bankrupt and unable to meet financial obligations, and needing government money to keep going? And that same organization under fire because the IRS believes that it should be taxed on handle, rather than revenue?

The end of city-owned OTB could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship with whoever ends up running New York racing. One of the greatest missed opportunities of the franchise debacle is the chance to blow up the existing structure, in which NYRA competes against OTB for betting on the same product. It only makes sense that the entities share interests, rather than competing for them.

But this is New York racing and politics, and doing what makes sense was never an option.

I love Friday’s third race at Aqueduct, in which the puzzling Sargent Seattle returns to the track in an allowance/optional claimer. This two-year-old made such a big splash at Saratoga, disappeared for three months, and finished a disappointing fourth in an ungraded stake on Belmont’s closing day. I’m curious to see how he’ll do in this dropdown. A $475K purchase, he cost nearly three times as much as his closest competitor.

The race reads a little bit like the second (third?) tier of two-year-olds; many of them had success in the late summer/early fall, then lost some of their promise or won races against lesser company. They’ve raced against formidable foes and I feel like you could go in a couple of difference directions here. Bill Mott’s Saada intrigues me; he broke his maiden second time out and went up to ungraded stakes company, where he didn’t do too well; granted, he was in against Etched last time out. Grand Minstrel has raced against Maimonides and Mythical Pegasus, and has made steady progress in his three starts, finishing third, second, and first. Langley appears to have been utterly out-classed in his first two races, then found more comfortable foes last time out at Delaware. None of these four are entered for a tag; only Glowing Image could be yours, for a mere $75,000.

Sentimentally, I must point out that All Expenses Paid is owned in part by Michael Dubb, chairman of the board of the Belmont Child Care Association. There’s still time to donate to their holiday drive, to help the children of the backstretch workers give Christmas presents to their families.

3 thoughts on “A sudden celebrity…no, not me…

  1. Let them close NYC OTB. Its time has long passed. The only bookie joint in the world that loses money. What does that tell you?C-O-R-R-U-P-T-I-O-N.Why would anyone in their right mind spend a day at a place with no amenities, no seating, no concessions, old TV’s, bad sound and mutuel tellers looking at you through bullet-proof glass?That’s what the John Street location looked like when I worked in downtown NYC.There are so many other better alternatives than an NYC OTB branch.You can open a telephone/internet account and wager from the comfort of home in New York, New Jersey or Pennsylvania and watch the races on either streaming video or cable TV.I prefer — if I can’t get to the races — either one of the Philadelphia Park OTB locations with table service, food and drink and non-smoking sections.I’m looking forward to visiting Favorites at Woodbridge, the new OTB in New Jersey, just minutes off the Outerbridge Crossing.It’s got an upscale restaurant, a huge sports bar with casual fare, 205 individual simulcasting with personal plasma TVs and a a video wall.Check out http://www.mcloonesatfavorites.com and/or http://www.meadowlandsracetrack.com and click the Wagering tab.These are the OTB facilities of the future. NYC OTB must be put out of its misery.

  2. Churchill has their own OTB parlor called the Spectrum, unfortunately I’ve never been there to compare. Keeneland has drive-through betting windows during their meet but I do not know if you can drive-through and bet during non-meet days when they broadcast simulcast races with the exception of the big races (the Kentucky Derby Preakness, Belmont and Breeders Cup). I thought this idea was quite novel; you could go bet all the races on the card, then go home or back to work, watch the races on TVG or online and not have to deal with the crowds at Keeneland or miss any work! I know what works in Kentucky would not work in such a large place as NYC expecially since you would still need to make the drive to the track parking lot and we don’t rely on public transportation as much, but it’s such an unique service!

  3. Before I got my NYRA betting account, I was mighty grateful for the OTB around the corner from where I work. I didn’t go very often, but I was glad to know it was there if I saw a horse that I liked. Now, I am much more likely to use the internet account (and much more likely means, three times since the end of August!), although at this point, I can’t fund that account electronically. So, if, as I foolishly did on Breeders’ Cup day, I cashed out my NYRA card to a zero balance, I can’t add more money and I need to go to OTB. So–I’m glad they’re there, and I don’t think that racing can survive without them, in one form or another. I just don’t see those OTB guys firing up the laptop at home and using an internet account. Drive-through betting…now THAT’S an idea!

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