Yesterday NYRA released its 2010 stakes schedule…well, sort of. According to NYRA president and CEO Charles Hayward,
In the current economic climate and with other racing jurisdictions reducing
racing days and adjusting their stakes schedule, we feel that it is prudent to
make the decision on the Aqueduct Stakes program only at this time. We
plan to monitor and review handle trends over the next three months, which will
allow us to keep the proper balance between the Stakes program and the overnight
purses going forward.
Not exactly a propitious accompaniment to what should be a celebratory announcement, eh?
Along with news about race dates (the Wood Memorial is, as expected, on April 3rd) and purse cuts (the Carter is now $250,000 instead of $300,000; the Comely is $100,000, down $50,000) came the unexpected and very welcome news that the Ladies Handicap, first run in 1868, is being renewed after a year’s hiatus. Recently run in the racing equivalent of Siberia, mid-December, the 2010 Ladies Handicap will be run next year on March 27th, which one can hope is a tiny step towards restoring the race to its former glory.
From Gulfstream: Not exactly news, but the 2010 Florida Derby has been moved from March 27th to March 20th. As I understand it, Gulfstream scheduled the Florida Derby for the 27th, then Fair Grounds scheduled the Louisiana Derby for the same day. Apparently unwilling to compete with Fair Grounds for three-year-old colts that day, Gulfstream made the decision to move its premier Derby prep. The question is: how many trainers will want their horses to have their final Derby prep six weeks out from the race?
And then there’s the fact that I’ll probably be in Florida on the 27th of March but not the 20th, so there goes my chance to attend the Florida Derby. Maybe I’ll stay home and go to the Ladies Handicap instead.
In other Derby news: Colonial Downs, whose promotional attempts never cease to impress me, alerts us to the fact that tickets are now on sale for the 2010 Virginia Derby Party Zone, “just in time for the holiday gift giving season.” Tickets are $30 and include track admission, a race program, tip sheet, deluxe barbecue lunch, three beer/wine tickets, live music on stage, a commemorative gift and a come back admission pass. Sounds like a deal to me. I don’t even know where you can get three drinks for $30, much less lunch and a program.
And, Facebook users, becoming a Facebook fan of Colonial Downs might net you two of these tickets for free. Colonial Downs is randomly selecting one of its fans each day from December 13th to December 24th (its “12 Days of Christmas”) to receive two Derby Party Zone tickets. More info here.
And in other holiday gift giving news, check out the ad in the left column for the 2010 racing calendar from the folks at the Saratoga Special. The cover features Rachel Alexandra in the Saratoga mist, photographed by Barbara Livingston; the calendar includes photos of Summer Bird, Zenyatta, Mine That Bird, Einstein, Forever Together, Informed Decision, and others, with photography by Livingston and Tod Marks et al.
And speaking of advertising, some time ago I joined the Hello Race Fans ad network, whose ads are featured at the top of the right column. The ad network is the first step in a fan education website created by Dana Byerly of Green but Game and Adam Wiener, and in conjunction with an on-air promo during the Breeders’ Cup telecast, the site last month launched “Letter to a New Horseplayer,” a series of essays by various racing writers. I recently contributed, and you’ll also find letters from Ed DeRosa of Thoroughbred Times and Big Event Blog; Mike MacAdam of the Daily Gazette; and Eric Wing, senior director of media relations for the NTRA, among others. Check them out.