02/13/2008 2:38PM



Looks like you can take your Valentine to Aqueduct on Thursday after all. (And really, what says True Love quite like statebred maiden claimers in the slop?) The Big A cancelled its Wednesday card due to 24 hours of steady rain, snow and sleet here, but it looks like racing will resume tomorrow until at least the year 2033. According to the latest report (but check the homepage for updates later), an agreement has been reached to renew NYRA's franchise for 25 years, in exchange for the state's assuming uncontested title to Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga. The bill was expected to pass both houses sometime today before lawmakers adourn for 12 days, but there also needs to be an agreement on a third temporary franchise extension that would take effect when the second expires tonight, because details of the land-transfer documents still need to be ironed out.

If you've got a lot of time and patience, you can read through the 190-page bill here. This is not necessarily the final draft, as the parties were still poking at it this morning and it could be amended when the legislature reconvenes Feb. 25.

--With Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Gulfstream and Santa Anita all dark Tuesday, the best purebred action was at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, where Uno became the first beagle ever to win Best in Show. Uno, whose formal name is Ch. K-Run's Park Me in First (the Ch. is for champion, not chestnut), had also been the first beagle to win the semifinal hound group since 1939. Despite that history, Uno -- a photogenic loudmouth with a piercing ah-roo that filled Madison Square Garden -- was no worse than the 8-5 co-favorite among the seven finalists along with Vicky the toy poodle, a cagey tournament vet who had already won 108 best-in-show titles. The others -- an Akita, an Australian shepherd, a Sealyham terrier, a standard poodle and a Weimaraner -- never stood a chance.

The show got six hours of live coverage on the USA and CNBC networks Monday and Tuesday nights, and it will be interesting to see how the ratings compare to those garnered by the Breeders' Cup last fall.

The WKC show may be silly and elitist but it raised over $500,000 for rescue and shelter efforts through a series of excellent advertisements sponsored by Pedigree. Not that this stopped the grandstanders at PETA from launching a counteroffensive series of ads shown elsewhere on cable, the worst of which featured a hooded Ku Klux Klansman attending an American Kennel Club meeting and saying "I'm going to fit right in here, you're my kind of people." According to The New York Times, PETA spent over $130,000 producing and placing these disgraceful ads, which could have just as easily been set at the Jockey Club. That money could have spayed, neutered and rescued a lot of dogs, if that was what PETA actually cared about.

My only beef with the AKC is that only greyhounds weighing 70 pounds or less are eligible for show competition, precluding what otherwise surely would have been a Best in Show dead-heat between a pair of 90-pound littermates:


Tom Z More than 1 year ago
Steve, Great post! I look forward to reading your blog. Keep up the good work! -tom z
John P. More than 1 year ago
I couldn't agree more relativee to your column about way too many races. The proliferation of tracks, running five and six days a week with small fields has kept me at home many a day. Also, I believe you wrote the column on the Breeders' Cup two years in a row at Santa Anita. Again, I couldn't agree with you more. Churchill should be ashamed for the position they are taking. They forget that there was a great amount of public funds that turned that place into the mausoleum it is now.
Jason in Austria More than 1 year ago
Now that you point it out, (and those dozing dashers get me all the more primed for summer upstate), they have thick abdomens for greyhounds!! 90 pound greyhound, that is like a 20 pound Chihuahua. I like the shots with the paper too.
Spearmint More than 1 year ago
Speaking of dogs, Steve, anything you can tell us about poor old Garibaldi? He was a $1.5M purchase by Michael Tabor as a 2-year old in '05, won an ungraded stakes at Monmouth back in '06; the very next race Tabor had him in a $100K claimer; someone claimed him and I think he was even nominated for the King's Bishop; 18 months later, he's running tonight at Penn National in a $4,000 claimer. Glory is fleeting. What happened?
Hammer More than 1 year ago
Steve, a little off subject, but I have a question for you. Is there a mathematical formula to determine what an exacta "should" pay? I try to bet exactas that pay more than they should. For instance, if we have three horse at odds 3:1, 4:1 and 5:1, what is a "good" price for the 3:1 and 4:1 exacta. Sometimes I notice that the 3:1 and 4:1 pay more than the 3:1 and 5:1. I try to find similar overlays in betting patterns. I know this is simply based upon the pool and the amount of money bet on a specific two horse exacta. But how does one figure out a "fair" price for a 3:1 / 4:1 exacta. Sometimes I see prices ranging from $30-$70 for this combo. thanks
arazi More than 1 year ago
richp: Maybe you're right but with months of bickering & politics between involved parties, the picture of who proposed what is unclear. But regardless of what objectives were achieved by all involved, they finally agreed to terms and some of those terms look good - at least to me. As for OTB, I, for one, is not in favor of OTBs. I've been to some OTBs and although it is convenient but it simply made me feel like a junkie because of the facilities, treatment, and the whole environment.
HollywoodTim More than 1 year ago
Steve, I read in Ed Hotaling's book on Saratoga that in 1955 the Greater New York Association soon renamed the New York Racing Association bought out the big four-Saratoga, Belmont, Aqueduct and Jamaica- for $30 million and got the franchise to operate the tracks for twenty-five years. The franchise was extended in 1970, 1983 and 1997 through Dec. 31, 2007. My question is: At what point and how did the state supposedly gain ownership of the tracks? Perhaps you know the answer to this or can tell me where to look. If you already answered this on your blog, I missed it. I know this is a moot point now, and everybody's happy that racing will continue. I'm just curious. Hollywood Tim
scout2 More than 1 year ago
A 25 year sentence for the wagering public.
RichP More than 1 year ago
Bruno did a good job, please. Arazi all those things your giving Brono credit for we're probably in the original agreement that Spitzer Proposed. The things Bruno was fighting for he fortunately didn't get. NYRA retians control of the simucast signal ratther than a committe that Bruno and his cohorts appoint, and Bruno's pals have to give the same percentage to NYRA and the horsemen at the other racinos do at other NY tracks not the 1 1/2 or 2 percent less that he was trying to divert to his buddies that were in line for the slot franchise. Bruno did not wear a white hat in this and came close to shutting down racing. Two of his biggest political supporters quit the NYRA board so they could critisize him. NYRA may not be the greatest, but alls you have to do is look at the OTB system in NY to see what the politicos would do if they got the kind of control over the tracks and NYRA that Bruno was looking for. Bruno Didn't get to stack the NYRA board with twice as many politicians as horsemen either. I'm all for oversite but what Bruno was trying for wasn't oversite he wanted outright control of the NYRA board and the signal. To try an make it out like he was somehow out for the best interests of racing instead of lining his buddies pockets is ridiculous.
Wayne80 More than 1 year ago
Get those hounds on the million dog mosaic at the pedigree web site. http://www.dogsrule.com/03Adoption/Million%20Dog%20Mosaic/Default.aspx#empty