Sports Outside the Beltway

Hiawatha Horse Park shuts down simulcasts

A difference of opinion and lack of a permit(?) are the causes for the stoppage. From the Sarnia Observer-

Simulcast operations at Hiawatha Horse Park in Sarnia have been shut down while contract negotiations with the Ontario Harness Horse Association (OHHA) continue.

A notice posted Saturday on the Standardbred Canada website states that Hiawatha’s management has been unable to secure a contract with its horsemen.

“Due to the unsigned agreement, OHHA has decided to close down all simulcast and HPI wagering through Hiawatha Horse Park,” the statement reads.

“Effective January 1, 2010, Hiawatha Horse Park will not be permitted to simulcast and will have to close its doors to wagering on horse racing.”

OHHA President Darryl MacArhtur said the issue stems from “a difference in opinions.”

A difference of opinions that will lead many track employees to lose their jobs till racing begins again in May. Doesn’t the North America horse racing industry have enough problems? Lack of racing will even further bettors to stop betting on the ponies.

Note- Hiawatha, which is about one hour from Detroit, has live horse racing from May to October and other forms of gambling all year long.


Kentucky Horse Racing Commission suspends Jockey Calvin Borel

You may remember him for his riding two of the last three Kentucky Derby winners, including 2009 champion, Mine That Bird. From the Daily Racing Form-

Calvin Borel was issued a three-day suspension on Nov. 21 by the Churchill stewards after his mount, Pulpit’s Secret, was disqualified from first to second in the 10th race on Nov. 20.

Jockeys or harness horse drivers getting suspended after a horse of theirs is disqualified is not normally news worthy. Except…..

Three days later, Borel appealed the suspension, which resulted in an automatic stay of the penalty. The stay allowed Borel to ride during the final weekend of racing at Churchill’s fall meet and secure the meet’s riding title.

According to the commission, Borel dropped his appeal on Dec. 12, indicating that the appeal was filed only to avoid serving the days because of where they landed on the calendar. The new suspension will run from Jan. 15-17 and Jan. 22-24, both three-day stretches from a Friday to a Sunday.

Earlier in 2009, the commission voted to double a 15-day suspension handed down to trainer Rick Dutrow in 2008 after the trainer appealed the suspension.

Penalizing someone for appealing a verdict to me, looks like a violation of due process. Burel’s suspension took away his right to make a living for three days, and he appealed it. The Racing Commission penalizes him for making an appeal. Would this hold up in a court of law? I’m no lawyer, but to my sensibilities the actions taken against Borel are a violation of due process.


Crystal Ball Time

My annual sports predictions for the upcoming year. Due to some unknown reason, I skipped doing this a year ago. What matters is I came back, right?

1 Cleveland beats the LA Lakers for the NBA Championship
2 Indianapolis defeats Arizona in the Super Bowl Crystall ball
3 San Jose defeats Washington for the Stanley Cup
4 St. Louis beats the Los Angeles Angels in the World Series
5 Tiger Woods returns to golf, wins at least one tournament but no major championships. That is a risky prediction in light of the fact that Tiger has won majors on 3 of this year’s host courses.(Augusta National, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews)
6 Phil Mickelson wins the US Open
7 Michelle Wie wins at least two tournaments, one of which is a major championship
8 Ji Yai Shin is LPGA player of the year
9 A non-Korean golfer will be LPGA rookie of the year
10 Yu-Na Kim wins figure skating gold at the 2010 Olympics
11 The Miami Dolphins don’t make this year’s playoffs but have a winning 2010 season
12 The Miami Heat make the playoffs but lose in the 1st round
13 The Florida Marlins have a winning record but don’t make the playoffs
14 Urban Meyer doesn’t return as coach of the Florida Gators
15 Joe Paterno announces his retirement after the 2010 Penn State season is complete
16 The Florida Panthers don’t make the playoffs
17 The Florida Panthers trade Goalie Tomas Vokoun
18 Manny Pacquiao loses to Floyd Mayweather
19 Kansas defeats Purdue for the NCAA Basketball Championship
20 Texas defeats Alabama in the BCS Championship game
21 Army has a winning football season and gets a bowl invitation
22 Washington Redskins fire Coach Jim Zorn
23 Serena Williams wins at Wimbledon
24 Versus and Directv finally settle their dispute
25 A North American horse racing track closes its doors.
26 Sebastian Vettel wins the Formula World Drivers Championship
27 New York Rangers fire Coach John Tortorella
28 The New Jersey Nets don’t finish with the worst record in NBA history
29 Connecticut defeats Tennessee for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship
30 At least half these predictions are wrong

We’ll come back on December 31st 2010 and see how I did.


Purses to increase at Pompano Park

A Christmas present for South Florida horsemen. From

With director of racing operations John Yinger quick to point out that they are not major increases, things are trending upward in the purse and handle categories at The Isle Pompano Park.

The Dec. 23 program marked the implementation of purse hikes ranging from about 2.5 percent to over nine percent in some categories. For $4,000 claiming pacers and trotters, the purse is increased from $3,200 to $3,500; for the $15,000 claiming pacers four years of age and under, the purse is increased from $6,800 to $7,000; for $12,500 claiming pacers, the purse is increased from $6,800 to $7,000; and in the non-winners of $6,001 in the last five starts condition, the purse is increased from $6,800 to $7,000.

“This is just a slight purse bump in a few classes where we felt it was needed and it was possible at this time” says The Isle Pompano Park’s race secretary Greg DeFrank.

While this is certainly good news, the most interesting part of the article is yet to come.

As for handle, the final two programs before Christmas produced the best nights of the meet since racing resumed on Sept. 19. Wagering on the Dec. 21 program topped $231,000 and on the Dec.23 card the recorded handle was a meet high at just under $400,000.

So Christmas is apparently a good time to go to the horse track for some people? Many years ago, my father would take us to Florida at holiday time partly so he could go to Pompano Park where some of our horses were stabled.


Ruling say Yonkers Raceway owed millions of dollars

Will the New York harness racing track be ever able to collect the money? From

The New York State Racing and Wagering Board on Tuesday ordered four off-track betting corporations in the state to pay Yonkers Raceway several million dollars owed as part of legislation passed six years ago that guaranteed that harness tracks would not be financially impacted by the nighttime simulcasting of ThoroughbrYonkersed signals.

The ruling comes in addition to monies already owed to Yonkers. Earlier this month, New York City OTB filed for Chapter 9 federal bankruptcy protection, listed Yonkers as one of its two top creditors—along with the New York Racing Association—with $18 million owed. There is some question whether the New York City OTB will ever be able to pay the money.

The Board said that the New York City OTB owes Yonkers an additional $3.6 million, while Nassau OTB owes $1.8 million, Suffolk OTB owes $1.2 million, and Catskill OTB owes $940,000.

I wish the owners of Yonkers Raceway good luck in obtaining the money owed to them. They will need it. Raceways, racing associations, and off track establishments that are convenient for bettors, are having trouble surviving and this all started occurring before the recent economic downturn. Horse racing in the United States is dying. I don’t think anything can change the course the industry is on to extinction.


1 man killed, 50-60 horses destroyed in Ohio Fairgrounds fire

My father took me to Lebanon Raceway one or two times back in the 1970′s. From the Dayton Daily News-

One person is dead and another remains missing in a barn fire Saturday morning, Dec. 5, at the Warren County Fairgrounds. The fire also killed 50 to 60 horses and destroyed the barn.

The dead person has not been identified, according to Doyle Burke, chief investigator for the Warren County Coroner’s office.

According to Krista Wyatt, a Lebanon Fire Department captain, the fire was called in at 4:50 a.m., and when firefighters arrived, the roof had already collapsed and the barn was fully involved.


Up to 80 horses could have been in the barn, but none of them were scheduled to participate in two horse-drawn carriage parades in Lebanon Saturday. The parades draw thousands of spectators to downtown Lebanon each year, according to Mikki Caston of the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the parades.

Very sad.

Note- I’m not sure the barns where the fire took place are associated with the racetrack I been to. One news story says it is, another is vague. Counties in Ohio had fairgrounds where horses raced, at least they did in the 1960′s and 70′s. A track and a fairgrounds aren’t necessarily the same thing.


Calder Race Course postpones two upcoming stakes races

For a change this news isn’t due to horse racing’s shaky financial state.

Monday’s revelation that a horse stabled at Calder Race Course had tested positive for the equine herpesvirus and the subsequent quarantine of the barn area will have both an immediate and long-term impact on the track’s racing programs.

The immediate effect will come Saturday. As a result of the quarantine, Calder management has decided to postpone the $100,000 My Charmer and $100,000 Tropical Turf handicaps, both Grade 3 events. Under the guidelines set forth by the Florida Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Security, no horses are allowed to ship into Calder for the next two weeks. There is no restriction on horses shipping out from the track, although at least one track, Tampa Bay Downs, said it would not accept Calder shippers to its barn area.

Only 9 of the 31 horses set to be racing were already on the grounds of Calder, so neither race could have been run while the quarantine was in effect.

One horse already had to be euthanized due to the equineherpes virus. While the quarantine makes life difficult for horsemen operating out of Calder, it is a necessary measure to protect the horse racing population in Florida.


Ex-Claimer wins Breeders Cup Dirt Mile

Was Furthest Land’s victory today one of horse racing’s greatest upsets? From Racing Form-

Furthest Land, who could not win under a $35,000 claiming tag at Belmont Park one year ago, outfinished fellow long shot Ready’s Echo by three-quarters of a length to upset Saturday’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita.

Furthest Land finished second under a $35,000 claiming tag at Belmont in October 2008 when haltered by trainer Mike Maker for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. The 4-year-old son of Smart Strike has since gone on to win seven of 10 starts, including the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park in his last start. Santa Anita was the ninth different track Furthest Land has raced on in his last nine starts. He was also the third gelding to win a race on Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup program.

Furthest Land paid $44.60 and was ridden to victory by Julien Leparoux, his third winner during the 2009 Breeders’ Cup.

35,000 claimers are pretty decent race horses but not usually stakes winners(Except maybe in their past). The biggest upset to me in horse racing history was Land Grant winning the 1980 Woodrow Wilson Pace.


Hoosier Park owner defaults on loan

More bad news for North American horse racing.

Centaur LLC, owner of Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, defaulted on a loan to senior lenders Tuesday, October 27 when it missed a reported $13.4 million interest payment. The Indianapolis-based company stated in a press release issued October 29 that the decision to forego the interest payment on a $400 million-plus loan was done as part of an effort to restructure corporate debt. Centaur used the loan to pay a $250 million casino licensing fee and spent a total of $150 million on grandstand renovation and construction of its 92,000 square-foot racino, which opened in June 2008.

“Our business operations at the property level are healthy and generate positive cash flow from operations. We remain committed to putting our capital structure on solid ground,” Centaur Chairman Rod Ratcliff said in the release. “Restructuring our corporate debt will place us in a position for long-term success and benefit our customers, employees, horsemen groups, host communities and other stakeholders. We are confident our steps will ultimately strengthen the company.”

Down here in Florida, a racetrack is about to re-open. Hialeah Park which last had a race over eight years ago is going to host quarterhorse races beginning on November 28th.

Armed with its new quarter-horse permit — and racing dates approved this week by the state — Hialeah Park is gearing up for a Nov. 28 reopening. Roughly 150 construction workers are doing double shifts painting ceilings, patching damaged pipes and sweeping floors. As the deadline gets nearer, they might go to triple shifts.

“It will definitely be presentable. . . . for sure,” said Orlando Ceballos, the construction project manager.

Will Hialeah, which first opened in 1925, once again exude the grandeur that so many fondly remember?

Not completely, as large portions of the massive restoration effort won’t be done by the time Hialeah again welcomes the public.

Visitors at first will be allowed into the clubhouse area, but other sections still being repaired — such as the grandstand — will remain closed.

Gambling options will also be limited, as slot machines are not expected to arrive until a year or so from now.

I think it’s wishful thinking to believe Hialeah will prosper under those circumstances.


Man charged with blackmail for threat to kill Breeders Cup colt

One Brit’s enthusiam for horse racing has gone slightly overboard. From AP-

A man has been charged with blackmail over a threat to kill 4-year-old colt Conduit before his Group One victory at Ascot.

Ten days before Conduit tries to win his second Breeders Cup Turf in a row at Santa Anita, Calif., Manchester police said Wednesday the man would appear in court Dec. 1.

The police didn’t identify the man but the Guardian newspaper named him as 26-year-old Andrew Rodgerson and alleged he sent texts and e-mails threatening to kill the colt unless he were withdrawn from the race.

I wouldn’t be surprised if alcohol is involved. Access to race track barn areas and paddocks is restricted. A person, at least when my father was involved with horse racing, had to show their license to gain access to these areas. I’m not saying it would be impossible for Mr. Rodgerson or whomever issued these threats to carry them out, but it isn’t an easy matter either.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

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