11/29/2007 2:32AM

Q&A 11/29/07


bc says: Would it be in everyone's best interest to privatize horse racing in NY? Sell everything, including the tracks, betting franchises, etc., to the highest bidder?

Privatizing New York racing would be in the best interests of whatever private investors were receiving profits, but only in anyone's else's best interest if privitization made the entire enterprise significantly more profitable. If business continued at the same levels, you would simply be adding another very hungry mouth to feed to the current economic equation.

Privatization becomes very tricky in a landscape where ownership of racing also means operating a slot-machine business which is always going to be more profitable per square foot than the sport of racing. In the hands of private ownership driven solely by a desire for higher returns, it seems inevitable that racing would become increasingly marginalized. This has already happened at many harness tracks, where management shoves racing farther and farther out the back door and often stops promoting it altogether.

It became clear in the process of bidding for the NYRA franchise that the groups proposing a for-profit model had no particular interest in the entire proposition without slots being part of the equation. That may be perfectly logical from an investment point of view, but are those the people you want being the keepers of the game?

mike says: I believe Wednesday's the 25th anniversary of Landaluce's passing. I know that you had filed a number of stories on her in your time at the Times. Any thoughts on her career, however brief yet brilliant it was, and any favorite stories about her?

Landaluce was a foal of 1980 from Seattle Slew's first crop as a stallion, produced by the Bold Bidder mare Strip Poker. She sold as a yearling for $650,000 to L. R. French and Barry Beal, who named her for a town in Texas and turned her over to D. Wayne Lukas, who picked her out at the sale. It was in reference to Landaluce that Lukas coined his oft-repeated desciption of an ideal sales filly as having "a head like a princess, a butt like a washerwoman and a walk like a hooker."

Landaluce won all five of her starts as a 2-year-old filly:

*Her debut by seven lengths at Hollywood in 1:08 1/5;
*The Hollywood Lassie by 21 lengths, in 21 2/5, 43 4/5 and 1:08 flat:

*The Del Mar Debutante, by 6 1/2 lengths, in 1:35 3/5;
*The Anoakia at Santa Anita, in 1:21 4/5 for seven furlongs;
*The Oak Leaf Stakes by two lengths over Sophisticated Girl, in 1:41 4/5 for a mile and a sixteenth.

It was the most spectacular campaign by a 2-year-old filly since Ruffian's, and Landaluce had developed a national following and widespread coverage (including a front-page story in the New York Times before the Oak Leaf by its green racing writer.) Joe Hirsch wrote that "She was an international celebrity. Europeans coming to the United States all asked about the 'Wonder Filly of the West'."

She was scheduled to race twice more as a 2-yar-old after the Oak Leaf, in the Hollywood Starlet and then against colts in the Hollywood Futurity, in a bid to unseat the retired Conquistador Cielo for the Horse of the Year title. On Nov. 22, six days before the Starlet, she ran a high temperature and stopped eating, and she deteriorated quickly. She died the morning of the Starlet with her head in Lukas's lap. An inconclusive autopsy showed she was probably stricken by Colitis X, an intestinal disease that almost killed her sire four years earlier. She was honored posthumously as the champion 2-year-old filly of 1982 over the then-undefeated Princess Rooney, with whom she shared topweight among fillies on the Experimental Free Handicap.

Five and a half years later, when Lukas won the Kentucky Derby with the filly Winning Colors, he said at the press conference after the race, "''This filly hasn't filled that void that Landaluce left. It's like your second love affair. You're a little more cautious the second time."

dennis says: I would be interested in your thoughts about the Plonk article on espn.com on the pick six.

It's a provocative article worth a look, and I was glad to see someone else raising the troubling issue of how some racing secretaries now feel it's their "job" to make pick-sequences as difficult as possible in order to create carryovers. I strongly object to the practice of burying races loaded with first-time starters in the middle of multirace sequences. This deprives bettors of crucial information -- how those firsters are being bet.

I did not, however, agree with the piece's proposal that tracks only offer the pick six once a week in order to protect bettors from "chasing rainbows," that the pick six is "nearly impossible to hit" or the prediction that "Today's craze is tomorrow's bust."

george_melillo says: Wondering your take on Mushka's performance? I think we may be watching a star in the making here. Granted that wasn't the strongest field ever assembled, but to break that bad, spot all those lengths, then come 5 wide turning for home to blast that field was quite impressive.

Mushka, a Zayat/Mott $1.6 million Empire Maker-Sluice filly, showed a great deal of raw talent in her first two starts and was visually impressive rallying from far back to win the Demoiselle in her third start. Her winning time of 1:51.61 was 0.87 seconds faster than the roughy-run Remsen half an hour later, though a much quicker pace in the Demoiselle aided the final time and flattered Mushka's running style. Indian Blessing is still the clearcut divisional leader and certain juvenile champion, but she's a little questionable stretching out while Mushka clearly relishes added distance.

cayman01 says: Why is the Pick6 so much more popular on the west coast than the east?

That's such a good and tough question that I'm going to throw it back at the audience: What do you all think? My inadequate response is that it's just one of those regional cultural differences that defies rational explanation. California got the pick six a few years earlier, but after 23 years of both circuits offering the bet, non-carryover pools are routinely roughly twice as high in Calfifornia than New York despite similar total handles. Even dropping the takeout from 25 to 15 percent on non-carryover pick-sixes in New York has had no effect. There was a carryover Wednesday, opening day on the Aqueduct inner track, of a paltry $21k.

Not so paltry that I won't take a look, but still.

E.S.Miranda More than 1 year ago
Why did the BC chosed to run races at "HOOSHER" distance, Mile forty yards, mile and mile seventy yards? Those are "for the birds." fifty2twety.
bill hendershaw More than 1 year ago
As a big pk6 player it is the weather and the early scratches. No surprices, so you can handicap the races in the west two days before. I hate waiting to see the couse conditions in NY and the late 9early) scratches.
Wayne More than 1 year ago
PS - While a little late to the previous discussion, surprised not a single soul mentioned the jobs created by this "despicable" industry. How about all the lives that will be ruined by closing an operation that employees and provideds health insurance to thousands, both directly and indirectly. It's OK for Bloomberg to hand out corporate welfare in exchange for alleged creation (or just maitaining existing) jobs, but he is going to close a major employer right after the holidays? This goverment caused uncertainty at both OTB and NYRA must be very tough to deal with as an employee.
Wayne More than 1 year ago
Time Zone. To me that is the only explanation on non-carryover days. NYRA's pick six, because of maiden race placement, is a more comfortable play for me. Have a real problem trying to hit the first five then landing on an indecipherable CAL bred maiden claimer in the finale. As far as race placement, NYRA does a good job with its maiden races (and I think it is good for the TRI and SF pools to have a full race of veterans rather than maiden in the finale), but I dislike the placement of quality ALW or STAKE races before the P6 sequence. Seems to me the feature is the feature, and should be the next to last race regadless of presumed P6 consequences. Steve, you probably have the figures, but are these short field feature type races any more formful than the races that replace them? I think not as the 4th or 5th horses in these events are often talented animals, as opposed to complete throwouts as often is the case in mid price claimers. Seems the tracks are afraid of the "all" button, but they should not be as by hitting that button in a 5 horse feature a player is limiting his/hers selections in the other races.
Bob Claydon More than 1 year ago
Greg_Brown comment is on the money. I have talked to a few people at Saratoga who come for the meet that are in CA Pick 6 syndicates and are very active, even on non-carryover days. I know of a few NY syndicates, but they focus on carryover days. NY seems to pick up action on the carry over days, maybe from the regular CA syndicates. My conclusion on the P6 is that it is a big money bet or you are just adding $$ for the syndicates. I stay away. I'm waiting to be invited into a good syndicate and then I'll get involved. You need to be a good handicapper, but a better money manager/ ticket structure guy with deep pockets.
Kevroc More than 1 year ago
Couple comments on the comments... The carryovers are not due to the synth, we had big double carries before it and even a couple triples (Fairplex if I remember right). and Powerball?!?!? No way, the pick six is very attainable. I hit three last year on tickets that totalled $192, $214 and $144. They paid $61k, 12k and 5k. and hit 6 of 7 at Woodbine when I was only ticket alive to $107k with two runners and ran second! ($212 investment). This year, NADA, and I blame synth.. lol.
george quinn More than 1 year ago
The west coast racing folks have discovered what it takes. big fields. For how many years was any california race including features 5 or 6? now there is 12 or 13. the pick 6 is the lotto or powerball to me. And I invest some money at times in this sport. YOU have a better chance playing parking meters than pick sixes. good luck george in lexington ky
James More than 1 year ago
I think it's only because Southern Californians grew up with the P6 - even before it was the P6. Remember, way back when Agua Caliente (just south of the Calif. border) actually started the wager with the ol' 5-10 (pick winners of races 5-10), which was the precursor of the P6, so anyone who cut their teeth on Southern California racing was exposed from day 1 to such a wager so it was part of their wagering dollar budget from the word 'go'.
Dave More than 1 year ago
I think the pick six is more popular in California because of the time zone. There are more people at tracks and OTB's, when the pick six starts in California than NY. And now that it has been established that California has larger pools, more people automatically look to California to play the pick six. Most people don't have the bank roll to play both NY and SoCal pick six's.
Pat More than 1 year ago
I think the California Pick6 phenomenon is primarily a result of the Carryovers. Seems like thier placement of a Maiden race as the Nightcap may help drive this quite a bit. Seems like in NY, they try to card Maidens in the 4th and 6th to accomodate Pick4/Pick6 players. Also, I think the time of the start of pick6 lets folks from both East and West Coast folks get involved in Cali. For a Midweek Pick6 in NY, most folks are working and lose the advantage of watching the first part of the card as well as watching the tote in Leg #1. And the Cali folks have it so good with Pick6, there is probably not too much motivation to get going early to play a NY sequence with a smaller or no Carryover.