In Thursday's edition of Harness Racing Update, editor Bill Finley wrote a piece regarding the current situation in New Jersey and he can't be any more on the mark regarding the viability of Atlantic City; there is none. As Finley writes:
Atlantic City doesn’t work and it’s not ever going to work again. The first casino opened there in 1979 and its only competition was way out in Las Vegas. It was Atlantic City and Las Vegas and nothing else, which meant building a business model that depended on a rundown Jersey Shore
town getting customers from all over the eastern half of the United States. When you have something that close to a monopoly, of course you’re going to be successful.
In the 31 years since the first casino opened in Atlantic City, the gaming industry has undergone tremendous change. Casino customers base their decisions on where to play on a few factors, but none of them are more important than convenience.
Atlantic City did nothing to reinvent themselves as casinos and racinos were opening up all over the East Coast to entice gamblers to still come to Atlantic City and nothing was done to build the city up to be a legitimate resort. When casinos opened up in the mid-Atlantic region, that was the straw that broke the camel's back and what we have our gambling palaces over built resulting in casino companies filing for bankruptcy and in one case, handing the keys to the place over to the lender and saying it was all theirs. Christie says develop Atlantic City as a family resort with beaches and what do you have; a family destination; a model Las Vegas tried and jettisoned. As Finley goes on to say:
Yet Christie’s minions on the Governor’s Advisory Commission on New Jersey Gaming, Sports and Entertainment believe they can revive Atlantic City by turning it into some sort of Las Vegas East, a destination location. To do so, they’re willing to have the state take over the area of the city where the casinos are and invest a fortune to fix something that is broken beyond repair.
It’s a terrible idea. Atlantic City is never going to be what Las Vegas is. Retirees from Oshkosh are never coming there, no matter what the state might do to spruce the place up or make it something more than a crappy town that happens to have a few casinos. Atlantic City is not making a comeback. It can only be one of many places to go gamble amid of glut of gambling opportunities on the Eastern seaboard.
So while Atlantic City is moribound with their only real solution a casino operation in the Meadowlands to prop them up, Finley argues racing still has some life in it, citing the success of the Monmouth meet and with a little more tweaking to that model, racing can also be profitable once again. So why does Christie and Hanson favor sacrificing the racing industry for the casino interests?
Anyone with a brain can figure that out. Christie isn’t stupid and neither is Hanson. And the people running the casinos in Atlantic City certainly aren’t dumb. They argue they can’t have a casino at the Meadowlands because that would cripple their business in Atlantic City, but I believe their real reason for opposing slots at the tracks is a lot more insidious. They are working behind the scenes to put racing, particularly harness racing, out of business in New Jersey and in Christie and Hanson, they have willing coconspirators. Once they kill the Meadowlands and racing, they can move into the fertile North Jersey market and won’t have to share a penny of their profits with the horses.
To read the whole column, you can find it in Thursday's edition of Harness Racing Update (page 9).
Friday's selections at The Red Mile may be seen here. However, if you are looking for additional racing action on Friday evening, Vernon Downs is hosting the finals for the New York Late Closer series. My selections for those four races are:
Vernon Downs; Friday, October 15
4th Pace - $30,000; New York Late Closer Final - 2yo Colts
5 - Gamblers Island (Allen, 5-2)
2 - Mosee Terror (Lems, 7-2)
6 - Denver Dolly (Paquet, 9-2)
4 - A Major Haze (Mattison, 10-1)
5th Trot - $30,000; New York Late Closer Final - 2yo Fillies
1 - Dreamy Dawn (Lems, 5-2)
7 - Appomattox Lady (Paquet, 7-2)
9 - Kendall Blue (Bailey, 8-1)
6th Trot - $30,000; New York Late Closer Final - 2yo Colts
3 - Winona (Okusko, 7-2)
9 - Hellogottagobuhbye (Bailey, 9-2)
5 - Cash Poor (Allen, 6-1)
7th Pace - $30,000; New York Late Closer Final - 2yo Fillies
3 - All About Kisses (Conner, 5-2)
2 - JK Geronimo (Huckabone, 10-1)
1 - The Filly Princess (Aldrich, 6-1)
6 - Wizzard Queen (Simpson, 15-1)
This year with the altered racing schedule for the Grand Circuit at The Red Mile, The Kentucy Futurity and Filly Futurity are being contested on the first Saturday of the two week meet. In the Filly Futurity, I see it as a contest between Ultimate Cameron and Bramalea Hanover in the first elimination and Costa Rica (who bled her elimination of the Breeders Crown and adds lasix) and Christiana Hanover. Some people will be discounting Christiana Hanover but she shocked a strong field in the Moni Maker at The Red Mile back on August 19th at 52-1. Many of Christiana Hanover's victories have come with a powerful closing kick off of speedy fracions. If you think there is any chance of a fast mile and you can get Christiana Hanover and driver Riina Rekila (with a .398 UDR) at 12-1 or higher, she may be worth a shot. Come the second heat, I expect Costa Rica to be able to defeat Ultimate Cameron but with this crop of fillies, I would not be shocked if we end up with a third heat race-off.
In the Kentucky Futurity, I am looking for Lucky Chucky to rebound and win the Futurity in straight heats. This is the second start with lasix and last week in the Breeders Crown, he finished a tired third off of a three week layoff. Lucky Chucky is not a horse who races at his best off a layoff so with a start under his belt, he should be ready for a more typical performance. Contendors for second are Breeders Crown champion Break The Bank K and Wishing Stone.
In the first race, Vintage Master is the class of the field but one has to wonder if he is going to be ready to win in his first race back. The 1:55 qualifier at Freehold indicates he is ready but with bigger fish to fry next week I am not sure we are going to see his best effort this week and while he certainly can win, I am not going to take a chance at a likely 3-2 or less.
In the first division of the Bluegrass for 3yo Colts and Geldings, expect One More Laugh to bounce back from his break in the Breeders Crown in what was an obvious speed break in a 1:19.4 three quarters. With this field going nowhere close to those fractions this week, OML should take this field easily. Of course, the question is are you willing to accept 4-5 or less.
In the second division of the Bluegrass for 3yo Colts and Geldings, it is not a mistake; I am picking against Rock N Roll Heaven, the likely Horse of the Year for 2010. While Rock N Roll Heaven is the likely winner, I can't recommend him at a likely 3-5 or less from post position ten. The horse I am banking on for a possible shocker is Aracache Hanover who has showed some wicked fractions in Canada. He picks up Tim Tetrick this week, replacing regular reinsman Doug Mcnair. The only real clunker he has shown of late is the Little Brown Jug where he drew post eight and was hard used during the mile. With the return to a larger oval, he should be able to put in a better performance.
Here are my selections for Saturday's Red Mile card which starts at 12:30pm.
Saturday, October 16
1st Pace - $7,500; Open Allerage Farms Eligible Preferred
4 - Dial Or No Dial (Brennan, 3-1)
5 - Vintage Master (Dube, 2-1)
3 - Dali (A Miller, 5-2)
2nd Pace - $128,000; Bluegrass Series - 2yo Colts and Geldings
7 - Westwardho Hanover (Tetrick, 2-1)
6 - Rollwithitharry (Gingras, 5-2)
2 - Sir Ziggy's Z Tam (P Lachance, 7-2)
3rd Pace - $129,000; Bluegrass Series - 2yo Colts and Geldings
3 - Prana (Morrill, 9-2)
8 - Lookinforadventure (Dube, 9-5)
1 - Lizard King (D Miller, 12-1)
2 - Feel Like A Fool (Sears, 2-1)
4th Trot - $69,975; Kentucky Filly Futurity - 3yo Fillies 1st Heat Elimination 1
4 - Ultimate Cameron (Brennan, 7-2)
5 - Bramalea Hanover (D Miller, 9-2)
2 - Cantab It All (Gingras, 8-1)
8 - Impressive Kemp (Morrill, 5-2)
5th Trot - $69,975; Kentucky Filly Futurity - 3yo Fillies 1st Heat Elimination 2
5 - Costa Rica (Pierce, 7-2)
7 - Christiana Hanover (Rekila, 8-1)
4 - Spicy Wings (Campbell, 9-2)
8 - Glide Power (Sears, 6-1)
6th Trot - $200,400; Kentucky Futurity - 3yo Open 1st Heat
6 - Lucky Chucky (Campbell, 2-1)
9 - Break The Bank K (Sears, 7-2)
2 - Wishing Stone (Brennan, 6-1)
10 - Temple of Doom (D Miller, 12-1)
7th Pace - $111,500; Bluegrass Series - 3yo Colts and Geldings
8 - One More Laugh (Tetrick, 7-5)
9 - Shoobee's Place (Pierce, 10-1)
4 - Kyle Major (Brennan, 7-2)
10 - Four Starz Trace (Palone, 20-1)
8th Trot - $108,850; Kentucky Filly Futurity - 3yo Fillies 2nd Heat
Top five horses from the fourth and fifth races return for the second heat. Winners draw for posts 1 and 2; second place for posts 3 and 4 and so forth.
9th Trot - $200,400; Kentucky Futurity - 3yo Open 2nd Heat
All the horses from the sixth race return for the second heat. Post positions will be assigned based on the official order of finish of the first heat.
10th Pace - $129,000; Bluegrass Series - 2yo Colts and Geldings
1 - Big Bad John (Palone, 5-2)
2 - Line Officer (Brennan, 2-1)
5 - Mystic Desire (Tetrick, 3-1)
8 - Real Special (Lachance, 8-1)
11th Pace - $11,500; Bluegrass Series - 3yo Colts and Geldings
8 - Aracache Hanover (Tetrick, 12-1)
10 - Rock N Roll Heaven (Dube, 1-1)
2 - Rockin Image (Gingras, 9-2)
7 - World of Rocknroll (Sears, 15-1)
12th Trot - $62,200; Kentucky Filly Futurity - 3yo Filies - 3rd Heat Race-off (If needed)
If no filly has won two heats, all three heat winners return for the third heat.
13th Trot - $100,200; Kentucky Futurity - 3yo Open - 3rd Heat Race-off (If needed)
If no horse has won two heats, all three heat winners return for the third heat.