The Ohio Racing Commission is not thrilled with the tracks relocating to improve their market share for casino gambling. It is not their moving which is the problem, but the loss of track amenities planned for the new facilities. In particular, they are upset tracks which currently have backstretches and receiving barns are planned to be relocated without backstretch being built. As one racing commissioner puts it, they are 'building on the cheap'.
The funny thing is it is the HBPA of Ohio, thoroughbred horsemen who protesting the design of the new Lebanon Raceway for the lack of racing amenities. Working with the OHHA, the two horsemen groups are working together to ward of the stripping down of racing accommodations. One problem brought to light is the grandstand at the new Lebanon is set to hold 700 people, a capacity noted by the ORC exceeded by most of the fairs in the state. At Pinnacle's new facility, they had plans to eliminate the turf course before the OSRC raised objections
The horsemen have learned from the moves at prior racinos but the state was apparently sleep at the wheel when the law allowing slots was drawn. The legislation should have required the construction of racing facilities agreeable to the horsemen and casino operators if being moved. Yes, horsemen want slots at the tracks but the casino companies really want to open a casino in their state. Hopefully in the future, horsemen will demand some protection be built into future legislation regarding facilities being built.
In New Jersey, the thoroughbred schedule for this year is coming into focus. Kicking off the NJ Thoroughbred schedule is Atlantic City Race Course which will be racing their traditional six day turf meet April 25 - May 1.
Monmouth Park is up next, announcing their 2013 race meet will begin on May 11 and concludes on October 6. Of special note is the Haskell Invitational which is scheduled this year for July 28. Not only does the Haskell strive to be one of the two big races on the east coast each summer, they are adding additional stakes to the Haskell program resulting in five Graded stakes on Haskell Day, similar to the stakes laden Hambletonian card. This meet will be a total of sixty one days.
After October 6, Monmouth Park heads north for a ten day stand at the Meadowlands for turf racing. Monmouth Park at the Meadowlands will be racing Friday, Saturday, and Mondays through November 2. The net result is thoroughbred racing in New Jersey is down to a total of seventy seven racing dates.
The Kentucky Supreme Court will be hearing a case to determine if Instant Racing is an extension of regular racing or a new form of gambling needing constitutional approval. This case mimics the one in Michigan where the Governor played a court justice and determined it was unconstitutional. Shame the Michigan Supreme Court will never get a chance to hear the case because the Governor played judge and jury. Hopefully a positive response comes from the Kentucky Court, putting an end to the indecision which has made most of the Kentucky tracks from hold off on their installation of the machines.
Has it really been that long since Ourasi graced our shores? News comes that the great European trotter who some called 'The Last Emperor of France' has passed at the age of 32 in France. Ourasi was the winner of four Prix d'Amérique races and a winner of fifty straight races in his career.
While he did not win, Ourasi was part of what has been arguably called the greatest harness race ever, the March of Dime Trot at Garden State Park in 1988.
Here is a video tribute to Ourasi (albeit in French):
They don't breed horses like Ourasi anymore and the standardbred industry is poorer for it. It is shame he never got over the fertility problems which plagued his stallion career. If you go on YouTube and look up Ourasi, you will see plenty of videos.
May the Emperor rest in peace.