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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Just Another Day of Reality Checks

So, how much value does casino gaming add to a race track? About $53.25 million if you compare the $80.25 million bid accepted by a Delaware bankruptcy judge for the sale of Magna’s Remington Park in Oklahoma—casino already in place—to a subsidiary of the Chickasaw Nation, versus the $27 million price offered by the same entity for Lone Star Park in gaming-less Texas. Okay, this is just a starting bid and there are some differences in the properties, but the bottom line is one has slots, the other does not. The bankruptcy judge also accepted a bid by Harrah’s for Thistledown in Ohio—$42 million cash and another $47.5 million contingent on whether legal challenges to the state’s new slots are successfully thwarted. There it is, in pure hard cash figures. I would be curious to know from those more familiar with racing in those states whether these acquisitions are a positive for local horsemen/horsewomen, and horse racing overall, both short- and long-term. Particularly, if slots are in fact shot down in Ohio, what is the potential future of Thistledown?

Honestly, I don’t mean to harp on the deteriorating quality of the BloodHorse’s writing, or, at the very least, the lack of editing or fact-checking that seems to occur more often these days, but an error in Tuesday’s online article “Ventura Back for Woodbine Mile” is just so glaring, how could one not mention it:

In last year's edition, the daughter of Chester House—Estala, by Be My Guest, finished second by 1 1/4 lengths to locally-based Rahy's Attorney before going on to win the inaugural Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita.

Come on! Did they forget Doug O’Neill-trained Maryfield ploughing through the sloppy Monmouth dirt to win the real inaugural Filly & Mare Sprint in 2007? Honestly, who is this “Staff” that gets the by-line here, some interns pulled in off the streets with no basic knowledge of racing? (Don’t be surprised in someone edits the story, making the correction by the time you read this—but cached Google searches last and last...)

From Ray Paulick’s splendid live blogging account of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, you get a real sense of the blood-bath consignors are enduring, particularly when—on day two—a Giant’s Causeway colt is sold for $5,000 (!) and an Elusive Quality colt failed to receive a single bid (!).

At least attendees got a glimpse of the “good ole days” when the two great powerhouses (Coolmore and Sheikh Mo) went all out on a Storm Cat colt out of multiple-G1 winner Fleet Indian, with Godolphin/Darley winning out at auction-topping $2.05 million. As Ray notes, just through his primary agent John Ferguson (and not counting the other associated entities also working on his behalf) Sheik Mohammed has thus far bought 31 yearlings for just under $13.5 million. Call me pessimistic, but it seems to me that, with his dominance at the Saratoga sale and now here at Keeneland, Mo is quite literally the savior of the breeding industry right not—whether they deserve such false hope or not. And, why shouldn’t he? It is an industry he has come to dominate around the world, and if stud fees and sales prices fall, his business is directly impacted. Obviously he doesn’t have to worry about getting credit to buy, so spend away, dear Sheikh—knowing that probably many of these purchases will never come close to reclaiming the outlay invested in them or sufficiently prove themselves on the track, but some idiots somewhere will still pay inflated stud fees on flashy yet fragile horses that do nothing to improve the breed.

For those craving information and opinion overload in advance of the Breeders’ Cup, you won’t want to miss some new internet sites, beginning with good friend Jessica Chapel’s Breeders’ Cup 360, “The Bettor’s Inside Source” as it is billed, sponsored by the Breeders’ Cup. An incredible array of professional turf writers analyze key prep races leading up to the big event with a particular focus on the horseplayer.

The Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance (TBA) has hooked up with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) to provide comprehensive analysis, history and fan perspectives on each of the Breeders’ Cup races. Needless to say, it’s a thrilling opportunity for many of us, particularly those who can afford to pay their own way to Santa Anita, as full press credentials have been granted them for the event. Unfortunately, I don’t fall into that category (I'm cash-poor, 'though passion-rich), so look for my forthcoming blog entries dealing with the Filly & Mare Sprint. Fellow bloggers such as Gene Kershner (Equispace), Lisa Grimm (Superfecta), Patrick Patten (Handride), and Gina Rarick (Gallop France) already have posts up, so check them—and all my fellow TBA’ers—out!


Handride said...

Thanks for the links, and way to stand up for your category, if i was you i'd pull ol' bloodhorse through the mud for that error, but my bet is you're nicer than me.

Steve Zorn said...

Sheikh Mo & Co. were indeed the saviors of the first two days. Ive put all the numbers together here:

Jessica said...

Thanks for the links, Valerie, and congrats to the TBA members writing for the NTRA site.

EquiSpace said...


Thanks for the link. Looking forward to your opening post on the F&M Sprint!