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Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Today’s news…

Emma-Jayne Wilson came close again at Hong Kong this morning (tonight) when 2nd with MASTER DREAMER in the 5th race (at about 8:28 a.m.).

Big news - hopefully good news - coming from Fort Erie this morning….track executives are in Florida discussing the industry...Space shuttle is minutes from's flippin' cold!

FORT ERIE NEWS COMING TODAY (9 a.m this morning)



An "important" announcement regarding live racing at the Fort Erie Race Track is expected to be made today.

But those close to negotiations aimed at sustaining the track's long-term future in the face of declining revenue would not elaborate Tuesday on details surrounding the 8:45 a.m. press conference scheduled at the track's corporate offices.

"I can't do it," said Mayor Doug Martin, when asked at town hall last night whether the announcement will reveal good news for the track, its employees and race fans.

"It's about live racing in Fort Erie. That's all I will say."

Track owner Nordic Gaming has proposed a $300-million revitalization project for the property, but wants the province to provide a larger share of revenue from the slots facility there over the next two seasons.

Nordic would use that money to bolster race purses and help offset operating costs while the revitalization plan is developed. It isn't known how much today's announcement will address that concern.

Economic Development and Tourism Corp. general manager Jim Thibert said because negotiations involve a number of stakeholders including the track's owner, horse owners and the provincial government, the subject is "extremely sensitive."

He also declined to discuss the matter until today's formal announcement.

"We have a piece of news that should have significant impact to the economy of Fort Erie, in terms of the race track," he said. "It's important we get all parties on board, on the right wavelength. I don't want to upstage (today's announcement)."

Thibert, MPP Kim Craitor, Martin, Stephen Ayres, who is a representative of track owner Nordic Gaming, as well as representatives from the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association are expected to attend.

Craitor could not be reached for comment. Ron Planche, his executive assistant, said Craitor was on a flight and could not be reached last night.


Former Woodbine runner represents Trinidad

If you want to see a wild horse racing spectacle, you must go to the Gold Cup at Garrison Savannah in Barbados in early March.

I had the opportunity to go once, years ago (Thady Quill and Jono Jones were the winners) and it is a carnival, a party and a fun day of racing. And the people love their horses there.

STORM STREET, who raced at Woodbine for maiden claiming last year, is a star in Trinidad now and the Street Cry gelding will be racing on grass for the first time in the Gold Cup. The gelding was previously trained by Greg de Gannes.

Read more…




IT COULD BE THE BATTLE of callaloo versus cou-cou at this year's Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup on March 1.

That's because Trinidad and Tobago is hoping to correct a situation where, over the past 20 years, horses from that twin-island republic have been leaving Barbados without any success in the island's most prestigious horse racing event.

Trinidadian horse owner Derek Chin made this clear to NATIONSPORTS yesterday during an interview shortly after a Press conference at the Barbados Turf Club's (BTC) Incitatus Lounge at the Garrison.

Chin said the last time a horse from Trinidad won the Gold Cup was in 1988, with Roland Khan's Call To Account.

His only previous attempt at winning the Gold Cup was in 1985 when he brought over Splendid Peak which finished fifth behind another Trinidad-owned entry, Frisky Wharf.

Chin said he had a very good horse in Storm Street, an American-bred animal which he bought in Canada as a three-year-old.

"Storm Street has raced four times in Trinidad, and has won three times and placed second in his other start.

"He won his last race, the Arima Race Club Trophy over 1 800 metres on February 9 by six-and-a-half lengths, defeating the horse that had beaten him into second position in our own Gold Cup at the Christmas meeting."

He noted that although Storm Street might have the class to win the Gold Cup, it was not going to be easy for him as he would be going right-handed and running on grass for the first time.

He added that in addition to his second place in Trinidad's Gold Cup, Storm Street had also won the Stewards Cup – a sprint race – at the Christmas meeting.

Chin said Storm Street was by Street Cry out of a Grade 1 mare Stormy Blues, and noted that his grandsire Street Sense was a Kentucky Derby winner.

He said that Barbadian jockey Desmond Bryan was aboard Storm Street when he won on February 9 and that he had retained his services for the Gold Cup.

Storm Street will be Trinidad's lone entry in the big event.

Chin will also be represented by the Trinidad-bred Godspell in the Tangelwood Stakes & Trophy on Gold Cup Day.

At the Press conference, the draw for stall positions for the Gold Cup and the day's two other feature races, namely the VI Tanglewood Stakes & Trophy and the V Sandy Lane Spa Sprint Stakes & Trophy, was made.

The draw was supervised by the BTC's secretary/racing operations manager Chris Armond, and attended by Claire Jordan, director of sales

and marketing, Sandy Lane Hotel; and Pamela Marshall and Anthony DaSilva, both BTC directors



(HTA/TRA General sessions begin)

News Room 10:11 AM 20-Feb-2008 NZST

The Harness and Thoroughbred racing industries came together for their annual educational and brainstorming panel discussions, as part of the 2008 joint meeting of Harness Tracks of America and the Thoroughbred Racing Association, the general sessions of which began Tuesday.

Moderated by racing announcer and media personality Dave Johnson, the panels kicked off with Woodbine Entertainment’s Nick Eaves and long-time major bettor and racing economist Maury Wolff who spoke under the title, “Swimming With the Whales: Will They Beach Offshore or Can They Be Returned to the Racetrack.” Their topic revolved around the loss of big-money bettors to offshore “rebate” shops, which offer money back for large amounts wagered.

Eaves said tracks must start looking toward betting structures that recognize and reward the biggest players, because the offshore entities are offering enticements with which the tracks cannot compete. Both entities, he added, are fighting over a dwindling piece of the same pari-mutuel pie.

He called the modern-day pari-mutuel system “out of place” in 2008 and declared the status quo to be “impossible.” He noted, however, that the rebate facilities automatically start off at an advantage with which the tracks cannot compete.

“They have no cost structure that resembles the cost structure of racetracks,” Eaves said. “Those who believe in rebates have to realize the tracks are competing against competitors we let into our business on a basis that is fundamentally unfair. The industry has to come together to solve this.

“We shouldn’t invite the third party to the table. We have to get rid of it.”

Wolff noted that before the rebate shops, takeout only went in one direction -- up. And that began to chop away at the loyalty of big-time bettors. He said such computer-based venues have, in fact, cultivated their own bettors and brought them to the wagering table.

That computer bettor is, according to Wolff, likely here to stay.

“(Before computer wagering) I went to the track more times than I care to count,” said Wolff. “Now, I go as few (times) as possible.”

The second panel was entitled, “Keeping the ‘Race’ in Racinos: Are They Simply Purse Builders or Can They Offer Meaningful Opportunities to Broaden Patronage,” and it included Chuck Atwood of Harrah’s Entertainment, Charles Hayward from the New York Racing Association, Delaware State Rep. Bill Oberle, Jeff Gural of Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, and Chris McErlean of Penn National.

Hayward noted that horse players like the mental exercise of gambling, and slot players like the randomly generated nature of it, putting them at opposite ends of the wagering spectrum.

McErlean added that that the introduction of slots at tracks was not “realistic” to put thousands of fans in the racing seats, but it does give tracks tools to try and attract new gamblers.

Atwood agreed, adding that just because one person chooses one form of entertainment over another does not mean they won’t eventually come together.

“More advantages come from a racino than are present at a racetrack,” he said. “It’s a matter of being part of something with rewards that come in other ways.”

Gural said he operates at both ends of the spectrum -- Tioga Downs, which was built as a racino, and Vernon, which was modified from an existing racing structure. He went out of his way at Tioga to make sure racing and the casino integrated, but that is not a luxury shared by both racino facilities.

“You know you are at a racetrack when you are at Tioga’s slot area,” he said. “With Vernon, the casino was built by someone else separate from the track. When you go into the casino you don’t even know you are at a racetrack.”

Gural also stressed the proliferation of race dates as a major issue confronting tracks and racinos.

“The more you race, the less you race for,” he said. “That is the wrong model politicians are using. They listen to horsemen who come in with some sad tale of woe (to get more race dates). But the more you race, the less you race for and less popular you will be (with fans). If you are going to race year round, in a building that holds 40,000 people and gets only 3,000 people, you are not going to be successful.”

McErlean agreed, citing the examples of Charlestown and Penn National as examples of tracks that are racing a very high minimum number of dates set on an early 1980s model that is not applicable today.

“From an overall business point of view, it’s not realistic to expect someone to come out on a Tuesday night at Penn National,” he said. “If we can run our business as it should be, and put on a good product, people will come. Racinos have been a purse builder for horsemen, but the product we have at a lot of places, I would not say it’s the best product out there.”

(Nicole Kraft, communications director, U.S. Trotting Association)


Eugene Melnyk’s homebred 4yo VAULCLUSE remained undefeated with her score in the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay last weekend. The A.P. Indy-Betty’s Pet, Dehere gal ran an 89 Beyer Figure in her stretch-running score. The Ontario-bred is 3 for 3.

At Philadephia Park yesterday, THREE IN THE BAG posted a 93 Beyer Figure with a win in an allowance race for owner Michael Dubb. The 6yo Silver Deputy – Light Show, Pleasant Colony gelding won the 1 mile and 70 yard race in 1:41.90.

Three years ago the gelding was on the Queen’s Plate trail. He has won 7 races and over $237,000.

QUEEN’S PLATE hopeful COOL GATOR worked at Adena Springs South on Saturday in 1:01.40. He is trained by Dan Vella for Hillsbrook Farm.

GIQUERE, a fancy winner of his debut outing last year at Woodbine and a hot Plate commodity to many, worked at Palm Meadows on the weekend along with stablemate and fellow Plate eligible PRONGER. The former, by Mutakkdim, went 5 furlongs in 1:02.20. Trained by Mike DePaulo.

Another Plate hopeful NIAGARA THUNDER, scorched 5 furlongs in a bullet 1:00.20 at Palm Meadows on Monday. The colt is by Hussonet and is trained by Alec Fehr.

SILVER JAG (Point Given-Lochlin, Screen King) has yet to race but is working fast for owner/breeder Earl Daynes. The gelding went 47.60 from the gate at Palm Meadows last weekend.


DOINWHATIDO, who won his maiden 2nd time out at Woodbine last year for Hal Snowden Jr. and trainer Sid Attard, broke down in a race at Philadelphia Park yesterday when in for $12,500 claiming. The gelding was claimed from the race from previous trainer Randy Allen.


  • At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    Will you have an update on the Fort Erie news any time soon?
    Everyone involved in the article seems very cryptic so I'm very curious to see whether it's good news or bad news.

  • At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Cangamble said…

    The whales will never bet without a rebate. I know that for a fact.
    As far as the tracks being at a disadvantage. That is horse crap.
    They are getting the signal fee for the whales bet, when they could get the bulk of it by reducing takeout to a non rip off level or giving real rebates to the players.
    Without rebates, I'm a spectator or I will go to Betfair.
    Track takeouts should be reduced to 10-14% for everything and every track should have the same takeout.
    Until that happens, all I can say is I enjoy racing execs whining. It makes my day.

  • At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What was Fort Erie's BIG news you ask?
    Answer: They will race this year. That's it.

    I think the local politician's were basically trying to give themselves a big you-know-what by showing everyone that they were able to keep Fort Erie's racing alive this year. Whatever.

    They were given dates, they never said they weren't going to race, so the whole dramatic/cryptic announcement of there being a big important press conference today was a joke!

  • At 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Interesting you mentioned the Barbados Gold Cup. We try to go every year and it is always a great week,. One of the highlights is watching the horses going for their early morning swim in the ocean. Too bad the race isn't shown here like it used to be when Brad Diamond covered it.

  • At 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Fort Erie Racetrack simply has too much history to be closed down. It would be such a shame to no longer hold racing there. However, I do believe that the heads of the track need to figure out a game plan to increase revenues therefore increasing purses to keep racing alive and exciting. Fort Erie is my home track and I wish for nothing but the best for the horsemen and the track. Viva forever Fort Erie!


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