Saturday quick picks

Bits and pieces of news, in no particular order…

Louisiana Downs race-caller Travis Stone, along with Mark Midland and Mike Shutty, have launched Horse Racing Nation, a “free, wiki community focused on racing information, insights and discussion for passionate horse racing fans.” According to the site,

The “Nation” for the first time, provides a place where racing fans from around
the world can share their love of horse racing with their fellow community
members. The information, stories, photos, videos and comments on Horse Racing
Nation are all provided by horse racing fans and organized for logical and easy

So check it out if you’re interested in both consuming and contributing to racing news and information.

Racing writers Dana Byerly of Green but Game, Jessica Chapel of Railbird and Raceday360, and Kevin Martin of Colin’s Ghost have created Omnisurface Stars, a site devoted to highlighting the horses who are successful on grass, dirt, and synthetic surfaces. It, too, welcomes input from readers.

From the world of philanthropy, a variety of industry groups has pledged financial support to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. NYRA will donate $50,000, and the Jockey Club and New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association will each donate $25,000. More than two dozen New York-based jockeys will donate a dollar from each mount, retroactive to June 27th.

In other New York racing news, New York Thoroughbred Breeders is organizing a rally at the state capitol. According to a NYTB release:

On Monday, July 27th at 12 noon, the hard-working families who earn their living
at New York’s Thoroughbred Breeder’s farms and racing stables will be at the
State Capitol in Albany to leave horseshoes at the offices of those leaders who
haven’t “gotten out of the starting gate” by selecting a Video Lottery Terminals
operator for Aqueduct.

If you’re interested in participating, contact NYTB for more information.

I was supposed to road trip down to Colonial last weekend, but a variety of feline maladies forced me to scratch. According to a press release, I missed quite a day. On Friday night, the track hosted a poker tournament, open to 400 players, with free registration beginning at 6:00 pm and the tournament kicking off after the fourth race. Apparently “$1,000 in betting vouchers” was “up for grabs,” which seems to me a pretty nifty way to combine a table game with racing, and to bring poker players to the betting windows.

On Saturday the 11th, the track featured a $10 all-you-can-eat trackside buffet with hot dogs, hamburgers, barbecue, and soft drinks. Prior to the racing day, fans could work up an appetite in the Virginia Derby 5K run, whose $15 admission fee included admission to today’s Virginia Derby, won by Battle of Hastings.

I’ve been wanting to get to Colonial for some time now, and hearing about its efforts to reach out to fans make me all the more disappointed that I was unable to go last week. If anyone has partaken of any of these special events, I’d be interested in hearing about how they go over at the track.

We’re now eleven days out from Saratoga opening day, and if you’re looking for an opportunity to head to the Spa, considering entering the NYRA/Shadwell Travers contest. Beginning today, you can enter for a chance to win a Shadwell Travers Stakes Prize Package that includes two tickets to the “Mid-Summer Derby” on Saturday, August 29, round-trip airfare for two, and two nights of hotel accommodations at the Hampton Inn in downtown Saratoga Springs.

Worth a shot, no?

5 thoughts on “Saturday quick picks

  1. colonial's efforts to reach out to fans? They don't sell Daily Racing Forms at the track because of a dispute. They have such a ridiculous intertrack simo charge rate — thanks, I'm told, to a know-nothing state legislature — that few handle the Colonial signal. Consequently, no one is playing. Handle on Va Derby day was down around $1.5 million this year. On track handle for the day was a lousy $567,000. The OTBs took in a mere $119,000. The other day there was so little money in the pools that a Pick 3, which included an even-money winner, paid 2-out-of-3. Beers are $4 at the track. On a personal note, they shut off the betting machine in the press box as soon as the final race ends, with two big policemen trailing the mutuels worker. Aren't we allowed to play Hollywood? And no beer in a press box????The tellers are friendly, I'll give them that. I just don't get how the state and owner have allowed this magnificent racetrack to start falling apart. The state puts lottery ahead of racing every time, never mind jobs creation. I'll tell you what, it was a pretty nice day — as always — this Virginia Derby day with a bucket full of photo finishes — including the big race — but it's sad to watch racing decline like this down there. — J.S.

  2. Your comments, J.S., understandably focus on the experience of the bettor–or the bettor/journalist–and from what you say, it sounds like Colonial could use some help in enticing the person who's already interested in betting on horse racing.I wonder what it was like, yesterday and last week, for the fans who partook of the foot race, the buffet, etc. I hope we get to hear from them, too.

  3. Several internet comments about Colonial Downs racing this summer points to a "sabotage" of their racing product.The Colonial Downs' management will have a lot of explaining to do when handle and attendance figures are down double-digits when the meet commences on July 28th.if they aren't willing to do things right, perhaps they shouldn't apply for racing dates next year.

  4. Well we had a great time on Derby Day. But I did notice the track seemed empty. The Party Zone was particularly lonesome looking. But that could be the big increase in ticket prices. The local newspaper reported attendance was down over 1000 from last year. And I don't think you can blame all of that on the Nicanor scratch. I don't think Colonial management is doing such a great job. Since the property was up for sale last year (a darn shame because it's a gorgeous spot) maybe they are no longer interested in actually running a racetrack.

  5. As a PS. I was at Delaware Park Sunday and it was pretty empty also. Maybe it's just the economy? Oddly enough people were blaming it on the lack of a big field for the Del Cap and that ended up being an exciting race.

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