Monthly Archives: July 2009

Not ALL Bad at the BC

(Sarah K. Andrew)

Sure, there’s the giant deficit and issues with W&YI, not to mention the ongoing call for change with the upcoming board vote. Even Blood Horse, who’s been accused by some of being an industry mouth piece, has been busting BC chops (ok, not really busting chops per se).

While it’s annoying that the BC isn’t running any W&YI races at Saratoga, it certainly doesn’t mean there won’t be great racing at the Spa. I still have my fingers crossed for a 2011 BC at Belmont but there’s plenty of time to get worked up over that one, although I think o_crunk is on to something.

In the meantime, there are few good things worth pointing out in Breeders’ Cup-ville. As mentioned many times before, yours truly is not a sports fan. So when the Breeders’ Cup announced a charity partnership V Foundation I was a little confused. Why are they not supporting a racing charity?

I was chatting about it with Swifty and he clued me in on the V Foundation. For those of you who also don’t give a rat’s ass about sports, The V Foundation is named after Jimmy Valvano, a beloved coach and sports broadcaster who died from cancer. Knowing that one of the Breeders’ Cup missions is to grow the event, this partnership started to made a lot more sense.

One of the perks of this arrangement is that the Breeders’ Cup has an excellent donated auction item in the upcoming annual “Don’t Give Up” auction to benefit the V Foundation and promote the ESPYs. The auction takes place on the Mike and Mike show July 15th at 7:00am (apparently a great morning talk show time slot).

Saddle Up for the Breeder’s Cup! This package includes two (2) tickets in the exclusive Trophy Lounge for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Friday, November 6, 2009 and Saturday, November 7, 2009 at Santa Anita Park, California. Also included: two (2) tickets to the VIP Winner’s Circle Celebration Kick-Off event on Thursday, November 5th, a meet and greet with the talent at the celebration, and a visit with the horses in the Saddling Ring prior to the Ladies’ Classic. Winners will get an exclusive meet and greet with a Breeders’ Cup favorite at their stall at Santa Anita AND two (2) spots to watch from the Winner’s Circle for the Ladies’ Classic on Friday and the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday. This experience is non-transferable. Dates and details subject to change. This package is for the winner and one (1) guest.

I wonder if the talent are the horses? I guess so given the saddling ring and stall visit. No matter who runs in the F/M Classic it’s always cool to hang out in the paddock with the fancy people (not like I’ve ever done that). I also wonder which race they’ll pick to visit the favorite prior to the race? Let’s hope that either someone who loves racing and can appreciate it wins OR that whoever wins falls in love with racing after doing those things.

But as I was saying earlier, what about a racing charity? TCA is this year’s Breeders’ Cup racing charity. After seeing the V Foundation news I was curious about what the BC has planned for the TCA so I asked Peter Rotondo, VP of Media and Entertainment.

Besides what he characterized as a “sizable donation”, the BC plans on offering the TCA copious media promotion opportunities during their broadcasts, plenty of on track presence during the event and the general access/exposure that comes along with a big event such as the BC.

So, not ALL bad, right? Supporting the those who support our retired equine stars and getting racing in front of new folks… now if we can just get those new folks to bet! Show parlay anyone?

Full Disclosure – the Breeders’ Cup is a Hello Race Fans advertiser.

Every Picnic Needs a Dry Martini

Asiatic Boy and his long body (Capitol149)

Because I’m only doing posts about things that have already been posted about today, here’s a recap of yesterday at Belmont!

Swifty’s birthday has usually been celebrated at the track and this year was no different. Teresa had been trying to organize a birthday gathering at NYRA’s new Top of the Stretch picnic areas so I suggested to Swifty (out of total self-interest) that maybe we should get in on that action and have a co-birthday party. The results? It crushed the field.

The area itself was great, apparently it was so muddy that our little pen required some straw to hide the mud. This added a nice barn-like ambiance to the affair. There was a festive air amongst all the Top of the Stretch-ers. On one side was a group of young-ish folks who enthusiastically (and drunkenly) hooted and hollered regardless of the outcome of any race (although a couple of them seemed to cash big in a couple of instances) and what looked to be a children’s birthday party on the other side.

We had a great assortment of well wishers for our co-birthday hosts. Naturally, Papa Backstretch was in attendance, which afforded me the opportunity to try to get a little information out of him. After picking the winner in the second, he gave up that he liked the drop in class with the cut back. He even let me know which horse he liked with at least 5 minutes to post once (he must have forgotten himself for a moment!). No doubt I’ll be trying to get more info out of him in a couple of weeks at Saratoga.

Trying to spy on Papa Backstretch, who worked diligently as the party went on around him

Swifty’s crowd included some folks who had gone to the track with us before and some who hadn’t. Not only did everyone enjoy themselves, many seemed to marvel at just how much fun they had “I can’t believe I spent 5 hours at the track, and it was GREAT!” exclaimed one first time guest, who’s 5ish year old daughter cashed on Trusted Heart (pictured below).

Guests marked their beverages while a new chapter of Future Handicappers of America was started

Several folks cashed on name plays, including our grill master Dan who naturally had Dantastic. His wife, a martial arts enthusiast had a nice $73 score with Offensive Attack. She also boxed him with Hero Figure (“I like fighting”). The Ben in the group did not get as lucky as Dan with Just Ben, but don’t feel too bad for him, he also had Offensive Attack!

Yours truly had a somewhat lousy day at the windows. I was too busy eating hot dogs and chatting with all the fab guests which included Andy Serling (now on Twitter!), Dave Grening, Bill Tivenan & Cassandra Cook who authored the excellent Off to Flying Start (more on that to come!), Jessica & Mr. Railbird and various members of the NYRA press office.

It’s always a pleasure when Mrs. Swifty comes to the track as she’s a very knowledgeable horsewoman who’s great to have around during the parade. Fortunately for my quickly shrinking voucher, Dry Martini jumped out at both of us. I liked only horses that had done well at the distance (Asiatic Boy, Rising Moon and Finallymadeit) and was hoping they would look ready to rock in the parade.

Seeing Asiatic Boy’s odds plummet, I was very interested in Mrs. Swifty’s take… when he galloped by she made a somewhat delighted “oh!” and confirmed that he looked good, in particular she liked his long body (something I would never notice or even know why I should I notice). Ready’s Echo also stood out to both of us but I felt strongly that he couldn’t get the distance… but damn he looked good! I put him in a dime super with Dry Martini, Asiatic Boy and Rising Moon… almost!

No doubt we’ll be doing this whole affair again next year but we had a such blast that we were talking about doing it again in the fall. If you’re a local with a will to picnic, you should definitely book a day at the Top of the Stretch… and take some potential new fans, will you?

Belmont Attendance / Handle Follow-up

Rachel beginning to pull away (Jason Moran)

Robert at They’re in the Gate already posted about this but in my previous post on the matter, Rachel Raises Attendance AND Handle, I stated that I would follow-up with a comparison of this Saturday, so what the heck!

Saturday June 27th, 2009:

Belmont Park Attendance: 13,352

On Track Mutuel Pool: $1,357,534

ITW Mutuel Pool: $2,657,212

ISW Mutuel Pool: $8,361,822

Saturday July 4th, 2009:

Belmont Park Attendance: 7,667

On Track Mutuel Pool: $1,378,296

ITW Mutuel Pool: $2,969,277

ISW Mutuel Pool: $9,564,986

Attendance down: 5,685 / 42%

On Track Handle up: $20,762 / 1.5%

ITW up: $312,065 / 12%

ISW up: $1,203,164 / 14%

Robert already pointed a couple of things, such as last Saturday had not only 1 stakes race vs. 3 on this Saturday’s card, but 3 that were a lot more wide open from a gambling perceptive than the Mother Goose. This Saturday also had an additional race.

One interesting uptick was that the bump in the Intra-State wagering. I’m wondering if this had anything to do with Sweetnorthernsaint at Finger Lakes? While I couldn’t scare up attendance figures, according to the charts from DRF, handle from last Saturday was $596,897 while handle from this Saturday was $623,518, an increase of 4.5%. Probably not a direct cause but perhaps a contributing cause.

Now that I feel somewhat committed to the quest to find a true apples to apples comparison, I’m going to do this (hopefully only) one more time. The next three Saturday’s at Belmont are similar in conditions to Mother Goose day, one featured stakes race on the card and no national holiday. Let’s hope one (if not all) of them has spectacular weather so we can get a fair gauge of the impact of a marquee star.