Silly season, I believe, is not something to gripe about. It's something to revel in.
This cool little horse will be profiled at some point over the next two weeks i) eating ii) sleeping iii) playing with a ball iv) having a mint v) taking off a New York Times reporter's hat with his teeth (possibly Joe Drape's) and myriad other things.
Celebrities in New York - say for example that woman that plays the Good Wife - will be asked to handicap the Belmont. She, among most, will like California Chrome; this despite her probably knowing Wicked Strong is in the race too. Penelope Miller from America's Best Racing will be interviewing visitors in Times Square asking who they like in the race, and I am pretty sure someone will say Spectacular Bid.
Art Sherman will be on the Today show and someone will ask him about Swaps. That Coburn dude will be on local TV telling everyone how NYRA has treated he and his family better than Churchill Downs.
There will be talk about how you can't bring a six inch or more lens into Belmont on Belmont Day (because research shows the terrorists like longer lenses). Someone will be making Belmont bathroom jokes. Another will be mad that a beer costs like fifty bucks. NYRA CEO Chris Kay will learn that the people in the grandstand on Belmont day aren't really "guests".
We'll see hundreds of pictures posted to Facebook and Twitter. "Here's a shot of California Chrome's ass" will be common, because we know on a crowded day how difficult it is to shoot a horse in motion. Some newbie might snap a shot of Ray Paulick and tweet it, saying they saw Kevin Bacon.
Yes, it's silly season. We'll see a lot of silly things. But this is what we watch horse racing for, so sit back and enjoy the grandest silliness the sport provides.
It's been an interesting 24 hours for folks who have been following the takeout snafu at Churchill (I now feel comfortable calling this a snafu). HANA reported that handle is down over $19 million since the start of the meet, and the story was reported in the mainstream press by Frank Angst at the Bloodhorse.
It appears, if present trends continue, that purses will probably have to be cut, as the money earned from the increased takeout will not be only below projections, but negative.
What I enjoy about Jeff Platt, quoted in the above article, is that he is not pie in the sky, nor is he anti-business and anti-profit. He's completely sensible. He noted that CDI - and other tracks with huge days - might be able to charge more for those days as a way to make a little more cash for the meet, but doing it everyday and grinding down horseplayers is not going to work long term - for anyone. Racing needs imagination. It needs to carry a scalpel to increase revenues, not a blunt stick.
It was also reported in the New Orleans Advocate, that the braintrust at CDI wants to look at raising takeouts at the Fair Grounds too. You can't make this up.
A few tweets from yesterday regarding the CDI handle news I found interesting and funny; some from insiders who usually are on the tracks' side in such matters.
@HplayersAssnNA Distressed that KY HBPA is still supporting takeout increase; they'll see purses reduced soon enough. No vision.
— Steve Zorn (@CVFPartnerships) May 21, 2014
I have decided to join @HplayersAssnNA in boycott of Churchill Downs & will encourage the 300+ high handle players I advise to follow suit.— Ryan Patterson (@gradedstakes) May 21, 2014
New Orleans paper is reporting @ChurchillDowns-owned Fair Grounds is considering a raise in takeout. If true, are these people crazy?
— Art Wilson (@Sham73) May 20, 2014
To stage an effective protest, put horseplayers in charge. @HplayersAssnNA boycott of Churchill Downs seems to have big impact on business.
— Kevin Modesti (@KevinModesti) May 20, 2014
Stat of the Day! HANA Reports $19M Churchill Handle Decline | http://t.co/2vPfzukEAi http://t.co/6RBLZswuzo via @BloodHorse
— Nick Hines aka SARGE (@Hinesite) May 20, 2014
I am impressed with HANA's boycott of Churchill Downs. A bunch of gamblers that don't know each other are better organized than us owners.Enjoy your day everyone.
— Craig Bernick (@craigb1818) May 20, 2014