In what can only be described as a serious blow to New Jersey racing interests, it appears there will be a new Senate President in the state after the November elections. Currently, the Senate President is Richard Codey, who is a proponent of VLTs at the Meadowlands. In backroom politics, it appears a group of senators that previously supported Codey are aligning themselves with Steve Sweeney, a Democrat from Gloucester County in Southern New Jersey. As expected of a senator from Southern New Jersey, Sweeney is opposed to VLTs. The only hope for Codey is that some of these senators can be swayed back or Republicans, who traditionally don't vote for a Democrat as Senate President decide to implement what can be called a nuclear option and cast votes for Codey. The chances of this occurring is remote.
What does this mean? The barrier to VLTs at any NJ racetrack has gotten higher. As Senate President, Sweeney gets to decide what bills get posted to be voted on. Hence, unless the political winds change significantly, the odds of a VLT bill getting through the state senate have gotten longer. In addition, with the Senate President being anti-VLTs, expect the Casino interests to harden their positions in negotiations with racing interests in the Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel and be less willing to continue purse supplements. If the supplements continue at all, odds are the supplements will not be as lucrative (partially due to the Casino's own problems).
Sleeping just got a lot more difficult for horsemen in New Jersey.
On to Lexington....
Unlike my picks on Tuesday, Wednesday was a lot better as I had all the race winners for the Bluegrass Series. Unfortunately, they did not pay much. This is racing at the Red Mile, the feature races tend to have proven horses so their form is a lot more clear and prices low. Your value wagers tend to come in the late closing series as these races tend to attract horses, while talented, had little success against the top tier horses in their divisions. With the top horses not in these late closers, some horses that were unable to compete are finally able to win; sometimes with big prices.
Friday brings us the Kentucky Filly Futurity. As with the colts, a filly needs to win two heats to win the Futurity. Unlike the Futurity, this is a real horse race with several horses eligible to take home honors on Friday. In addition, the Bluegrass Series continues with 3yo pacing fillies.
The first division of the first heat of the Kentucky Filly Futurity is a competitive race. OK to Play is my tepid selection in this race. She had a horrible trip in the Moni Maker final but shows ability at times, winning her elimination of the Hambo Oaks. Wedding Dress is my second pick. She shows ability in recent races and she has the potential for a minor upset. Littlemscantbwrong has done little wrong. She has been on a tear but does step up in this race; would not shock me if she won. Highscore Kemp won her division of the filly WTD but faltered at Lex. Can bounce back and land share.
The second division features Windsong Soprano. While she failed in the Oaks, she has bounced back and won the Hudson Filly Trot, Simcoe and her division of the Buckette. She is the pick to win. Broadway Schooner, who won the Oaks, has continued on with her good form, finishing second in the Monimaker; would be the pick here except for the resurgent Windsong Soprano. Raising Rachel has had a successful year. In her second start back she finished second to top choice in the Jugette; picks up third. All Star Hanover has been improving and can land a share for the superfecta.
Southwind Wasabi is the stand out selection in the third division winning the Moni Maker here last week. Yursa Hanover has been improving of late winning at Flamboro last time; meeting better but should land a major share. Margarita Momma returns after a disappointing Oaks. She qualified nicely but may need a start to take on Wasabi. Seaside has enough talent to pick up a share with a trip.
In the second heat it will be a tough race between Windsong Soprano and Southwind Wasabi. While it will be all about the trip, I expect to see Southwind Wasabi to win this race in two heats.
In the first division of the Bluegrass, Showherthemoney continues her domination over this division of late and is the overwhelming favorite. Warrawee Kay bombed in the second heat of the Jugette. Has raced well here and may land second. Dream McQueen has been disappointing so far but shows improvement, can pick up third and spice up the exotics. Precious Stone has been a fringe player most of the year but has enough talent to pick up the final spot in the superfecta.
In the second division of the Bluegrass, Kiss Me Kate is the pick with her respectable performance in the Jugette against Showherthemoney. Shanghai Lil won the Simpson in her last and can compete. West of L A is still looking for her first win this season; not today, but has the ability to land share. Smooth Silver was horrible in last but won the Review and Hayes; pick for fourth but at long odds worth a look as an upset play.
Saturday is the big day of racing with the Kentucky Futurity. Obviously Muscle Hill is the horse to win. More about this tomorrow.