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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Taps for Our OTW

Well, the end of an era in J-town today…our OTW facility, owned by Penn National (and before that Ladbrokes), officially shutdown. Of course, we girls had to close it out, albeit with a whimper more than a bang judging by our pile of losing tickets. Still, as a weekly meeting place for our group of friends, PN will be solely missed. Our options now: drive two hours south to the track in Charles Town (which we will probably try), take the bus touring coach to Mountaineer for an overnighter (most people use it to play the slots, but a good deal for about $50), or drive another two hours west to the Meadows. The nearest OTW is Chambersburg, which is still a good two-hour drive. Nothing we can hit on a weekly basis after work or on an off day. So long, Whitney, Cindy and all the tellers at PN Johnstown...

It appears even-money favorite Cockney Rebel had an excellent excuse for finishing fifth in the G1 St. James’ Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot—he sustained a fractured pelvis in the race. Ouch!

Several two-year-old races on Thursday, including race 1 at Churchill, a MC50K going 5 furlongs for fillies. Of previous runners, Steve Flint has two here, tagged as the 6-5 morning line favorites. Honest to Betsy (Yonaguska-Hard Freeze, by It’s Freezing) holds the highest BRIS speed figure (83) after finishing second first time out on May 26. No works since then, so hard to decide how much that race helped or hurt her. Her stablemate Fancy Footsteps (Sky Classic-Fancy Tale, by Rahy) posted a 78 Bris speed figure finishing ½ lengths behind the winner in first start on May 31, and has a five furlong work since. Of the first time starters, I like Steve Margolis’ Fat Cat Bertie (Tactical Cat-Agiftfrom Bertie, by Monetary Gift) who sports several nice workouts on this track, including a :36.2 work five days ago. More Accord is by More Than Ready who currently ranks number 10 on the top juvenile sire list; of his 11 two-year-old starters this year, 4 have posted wins. However, this isn’t one of them; with only two mediocre works since June 1, More Accord is not ready here. The surprise might be Hurricane Bernie (Sea of Secrets-Deceptive, by Clever Trick) who breaks from the rail post with Calvin Borel up; his early speed might carry him all the way after his previous third place finish on June 8.

Race 1 at Hollywood (for maiden claimers) features two colts with previous starts. Doug O’Neill sends out Bond just five days after showing nothing in a Mdn 46K race, finishing eighth of ten. O’Neill adds blinkers and switches to Michael Baze, but I don’t think that is enough to beat Holloman who finished second, only ½ length back from the winner, in his first race. He also sports a nice :47.2 bullet workout 7 days ago. Among the first time starters, Carson’s Copper (Carson City-Citiview, by Citidancer) has two months of solid workouts (including from the gate) on this track, and should do very well first out. Nene (Betrando-Magical Maze, by Deputy Minister) has a lovely turf pedigree, with champion turfer T.V. Lark in both his paternal and maternal dams’ bloodlines. He has three months of solid works leading to this start, including two impressive gate works most recently. However, all of the works have been at Santa Anita, so I would not be too surprise if he needed at least one race on the cushion track before breaking that maiden. The only other one I’m tempted with here is Verlander, whose sire Smooth Jazz is hitting 50% wins with first-time starters and his dam has 4 winners from 5 starters. Rookie sensation Joe Talamo is up, and the colt has some nice works, including a :59.3 on June 1, but…no gate work, maybe the deciding factor when post time rolls around.


alan said...

Valerie - Why did it close?

Valerie said...

Back in March it was announced that they would close the Johnstown site on June 20 due to declining business:

“We have long been suffering from declining business despite all of our efforts to keep it afloat,” said Alan Flynn, facilities manager at the Richland Township site.

At the time, the employees had no inkling about the recent buyout, so the talk was more about the excessively high rent they paid to the local real estate magnate/slum lord. There was some hope that it would not close when word came about the sale, but this was probably already in the works as part of that deal (trying to streamline their debt issues).

It really sucks because that was the only OTB in western PA.