There's quite a bit going on in raceland, so here are a few thoughts.
Alan over at LATG does not have trouble holding feet to the fire in New York. Despite listing bands on his blog that I don't have the foggiest about even if I google them, he plays NYRA down the middle. NYRA, like some other entities in horse racing, is at a crossroads. It's profit maximization versus politics and some of it is head-scratching.
The Paulick Report story about Kentucky Downs versus Churchill Downs on September dates, ended up yielding a defacto poll in the comments section. When I was a kid I remember watching the Reagan-Mondale election results. This might be more lopsided. For a synopsis on this brouhaha, please read Matt's article here.
There's a drumbeat, which has been active for some time, about racing needing to be operated by more non-profits. That might sound Khrushchevian, but in this day and age it does make some sense. Racing is a strange, regulated, public-private entity, that involves alternative gaming, and other subsidies. Churchill Downs Inc is a company that acts exactly like it should - based on profit maximization, control, increasing market share etc - so that the next quarter will show an EPS that meets or exceeds analyst expectations. Capitalism doesn't suck, it's why we pay $400 for flat screen TV's or go to Costco to get a 458 pack of gum for like $40. But in racing's case it kinda does. Places like Woodbine are "non-profit" and they do some good work (except for the evil rakes). Other casino companies that dot the landscape? I really don't think they have the best of intentions for the sport in the long term.
Speaking of subsidies, the Bloodhorse reported that 35% of purses are funded by alternative gaming etc. That obviously won't go on forever, but it's a huge reason why racing keeps having horse sales where the who's who spend thousands like Kim Kardashian on a sugar high.The advent of such gaming certainly shows up in the entry box and it messes up the end product. In harness this has been obvious with the Big M versus PA tracks and Yonkers. In the thoroughbreds, boy does it show up in Illinois. There, dates have been decimated and purses are falling quicker than something that falls really fast (I try to use only one simile per paragraph).
Meadowlands announces a few races for the undercard on Breeders Crown nights.
This guy got banned for steroids this week in the NFL. Maybe he was framed? That's like a trainer who wins 56% off the claim over a large sample and trying to convince regulators and bettors it's the shoeing.
Weather is saying rain for Keeneland's opener.
I really wonder sometimes about those in control of horse racing. We often hear how we have to "dumb things down" to attract bettors, while we should frankly do the opposite. The edge that was at Keeneland on the poly was similar to the edge at Hong Kong, and some UK tracks on the turf. It made handicapping more complex, tougher and worth putting your time in for because you might find nuggets to get paid with. This characteristic is vital for a gambling game without very small takeout rates. If dumbing things down worked, harness racing and dog racing would have handles dwarfing that of the runners. Horse racing is not a casino, or a scratch off ticket game, and never has been.
As for my long lost friend Keeneland, I will be playing tomorrow, but I won't dig overly deep in the PP's for the dirt races, because I likely won't have to (unless some strange track bias pops up).
Enjoy your day everyone and good luck at the windows should you be having a punt.