Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

18 April 2010

Struggling to Remain Engaged

Perhaps it is just my point of view but it seems that racing has crossed a new threshold into irrelevance. Once dedicated fans have decreased their involvement in the sport. My wagering is down over 75% this year. While other sports are erecting new cathedrals of excellence Aqueduct has a dumpster as the local point of it's apron. It seems that all of the value in wagering and excitement of the competition has flown the coop. The programs are littered with short fields and state bred welfare races. A perfect storm of economic forces, changing tastes, poor leadership, fractured control and slots fueled indifference has led to a critical point where the whole industry's foundation has been weakened.

Racing seems like it can not get out of its own way. While I really want to embrace synthetic surfaces, I find them to be the equivalent of a monkey-wrench. Racing may need change but this was the wrong change. Synthetic surfaces add complexity to a game that is already too abstract for many tastes. With races like the Blue Grass and Lexington relegated to irrelevant farces it seems like whole race meets are contested in a parallel universe that have no relevance to this(dirt racing) dimension. The false consumer morality that led tracks like Keeneland to install synthetic surfaces has led them into a tactical error. The dirt surfaces should have been upgraded and properly maintained; the new surfaces are foreign and bewildering to the majority of handicappers and horsemen. This major change the fabric of the product has quickened the rush to the doors.

this dumpster is now the focal point of the Aqueduct facility

Here in New York the incessant corruption is most easily viewed as it pertains to the racing industry. It is a shame that the press now longer provides a check on the politicians and has let them get away with ruining Aqueduct for so long. With the media not reporting the facts the public is oblivious to the buffoonery associated with the Aqueduct VLT project. The only action taken here has been inaction. NYRA has waited for almost ten years to have slots installed while Albany continues to drag it feet. Worst yet is the process has relegated NYRA to a de facto ward of the state. Hanging onto the slots as its meal ticket, NYRA has been frozen into inaction awaiting the slots like a welfare mother awaiting the first on the month. Meanwhile the grifters in Albany are planning round five of the Aqueduct slots cash grab. Wasn't round four a enough of a laugh? Every time these politicians run this farce it slowly loses it's effectiveness to garner kickbacks and favor from those that desire the Aqueduct slots contract. There was a time when Las Vegas giant MGM was going to operate this casino. Then politicians stepped in, restarted the process four times and cashed in time after time with kick backs. Now it looks like this slots grab could garner very little interest in the gaming industry. Certainly the respected names in the gaming industry like Steve Wynn will have nothing to do with the farce of New York racing after four aborted slots approval processes. K&K wigs of White Plains may end up with a better casino than Aqueduct.

While round five of slots cash grab commences the parasite known as NYC OTB is threatening to close down. It looks like they want to book bets without paying the track operators. If OTB was to have closed down ten years ago this could have been a huge positive for the industry. Racing could have shaken the image of the degenerate that is the popular image of horseplayers. The OTB should be something of the past. With this degenerate image in the past racing could have moved towards respectability. Perhaps mainstream marketers like Patrick Patten could have crafted a new imagine for racing away the crass materialism of naked gambling to something more gentlemanly or mainstream. The fear now is with racing in such a horrible condition that the loss of the OTB revenue may be a death blow; it is like starting a surgery while the patient is struggling to fight off an infection. The other fear is that the OTB fans may not return to bet; many of the old degenerates that filled the parlors will simply retire. OTB is a subject that will require leadership; however it seems to be a area steeped in corruption with a lack of vision.

The only bright spot remains the upcoming Monmouth meet- perhaps even this could be a negative as it could be the nail in NYRA's coffin. With racing out of New York the entire industry may just lose it's national niche and become a provincial rural sport like rodeo. California racing is in trouble too. New York like California means big money and media presence. Without New York or Southern California racing is a much smaller industry. The looming triple crown is the one time where racing will hit the mainstream for a few weeks. This triple crown could be the calm eye of a storm. In a few years racing will likely have a much different look as the game is gutted.


Anonymous said...

All politicians are are unattractive actors, that couldn't make it in Hollywood. It's all about corruption and money with them. The 2 party system need to DIE and we need to vote indy from now on...Cice

The_Knight_Sky said...

I'm not sure the Monmouth Millions meet is as foreboding to the NY racing product. It's a one shot deal and if anything it will force both states too look and compete without slots subsidies in 2011 and beyond.

As for Keeneland. I stopped following their racing completely this year. I now await their reporting a positive spin on their all-sources handle figures.

The first domino has to fall and undo this grand mistake called "synthetics revolution".