Thursday, June 5, 2008

CDI and NYRA, Slowly Sinking Ships

Churchill Downs has decided to rewrite the conditions of The Stephen Foster to insure that Curlin will enter. It will sweeten the pot by $250k. That's enough for another Grade I race, so it's a lot of sweetening. I generally don't like to get involved in subjective interpretation because more often than not it will deconstruct an issue to the point that there seems no true meaning at all. But I'm going to have to jump in here and interpret this action as a slap in the face to the horsemen. At a time where CDI is claiming hardship they have somehow come up with an extra $250k to bring a few more people to the track and pad the purse total for Curlin. I admit that having the opportunity to see Curlin will undoubtedly bring some more people to the track - it would get me there - but I don't see how it helps CDI at all. If it does anything it will likely drive the wedge, between THG and CDI, deeper. This seems an obvious observation, so much so that I cannot believe that the action was taken without that intent. The problems in racing just continue to become more complicated and partisan. In the cold climate that now exists between CDI and the horsemen this is another shot across the bow of the horseman's ship. It signals not hardship or need but that they have deep enough pockets to carry this fight further than the horsemen may be able to go. With attendance and handle down how long will it be before CDI announces yet another cut in purses, citing these very facts? With the hardship that the horesemen are probably already feeling such an action may be the final straw. I cannot stress enough how strongly I feel that the horsemen need to win this battle for the health of the industry. Without a healthy percentage of money going to the horsemen it makes the industry seem very much like our society at the moment where the very few benefit from the labor of the many. Without a reasonable amount of money to finance purse structure etc., racing may cease to be a feasible vocational activity. Everyday racing at Churchill Downs is already woefully lacking in its ability to produce a compelling product for consumption.In what condition will that leave racing in Kentucky if further damage to the product is incurred through the actions of CDI?

Conditions are not much better here in New York with the continuation of the NYC OTB problems. Whatever the outcome it will greatly impact NYRA and NY racing in general. Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Patterson, Majority leader Bruno, Speaker Silver, NYRA CEO Charles Hayward and NYC OTB are at odds with rectifying the situation. That's a scary lot of self interest across the table! Good luck getting a deal out of that gang of six that does not contain obfuscation to the point of illusion. The only thing I am certain of is that any agreement will result in loss for the fan and the horsemen. From where I sit the comments I have read from the players make NYRA's future much murkier than it seemed to be two months ago. Matt Hegarty explains the situation in his DRF article.

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