By Gene Kershner
With only five days left until Christmas and 12 until the New Year, the racing season is winding down and we'll be spending the next two weekends deciding on our Eclipse Awards ballot which I will post in the first week of the New Year.
We're also feverishly working on our 2014 prognostications for next weekend (ala Kreskin) and hope we can get over the Mendoza line this year after last year's dismal showing. Last week's Festivus post received some solid traction thanks to equidaily.com's link and subsequent interview on Racing Across America via Capital -OTB TV in Albany on Wednesday ( go to 40:25 mark).
Some thoughts as we head into the holidays….
- It's regrettable that I never made it to Hollywood Park. So many great races have been held there over time. Racing will conclude this weekend at the site of the first Breeders' Cup in 1984, and will give way to real estate development. It was No. 7 on my wish list...oh well.
- No news is typically not good news when it comes to the Ontario Provincial government that seems to be slow on the trigger to respond to the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium's 91-page proposal surrounding the Year of the Horse and festival racing at the border oval. As more time passes, the more dire the situation across the border becomes. The festival concept is interesting, but will be very difficult to pull off, mainly due to stabilizing a horse population, not just the tourism monies that will have to raised. The glass is half empty in this corner. Let's hope racing isn't shuttered across the Peace Bridge.
- While preparing for my television interview, I didn't realize that Gary Stevens has only had 369 mounts during the year in ranking third in Grade 1 wins (8) behind Mike Smith (15) and John Velazquez (13), respectively. Ironically, Smith has only 402 mounts. It appears the elder statesmen sure know how to pick their spots.
- Aqueduct is unveiling a new wager on January 1 called The Omni. A bettor will have to select two of the first three finishers to win the bet. How many times has your exacta been split finishing 1-3 or worse 2-3? The bet will have a fairly low takeout rate of 15 percent.
- On January 1, New York State will impose a 5 percent market origin fee on each dollar wagered by a New York State resident on any out-of-state account wagering deposit (ADW) company. This will affect many of the ADW's such as twinspires.com, Xpressbet and TVG, the three largest in the country. The track wagered on by the NY resident does not matter when calculating the fee. ADW's typically retain 10-20 percent of each dollar wagered according to the Daily Racing Form.
- New York is obviously trying to discourage out-of-state ADW's with dealing with NY customers and to drive customers to one of the OTB accounts in New York or NYRA Rewards. However, when I contacted twinspires.com they assured me of the following: "This will not affect you in anyway. This fee is something that we as the ADW will have to pay. This is not a fee we will be passing on to our customers who live in NY. There is a chance some people would be affected but those are rebated players and it could affect their rebates." Good news for the weekend warriors who like to use services like twinspires.