o Track Times Today - With Bernie Dickman - Racing, Breeding, Pari-Mutuels
Track Times Today

Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Dog tracks lead the way in Florida . . .

    Recent reports have concluded that the poker boom has been subsiding in the past couple of years, but Florida's pari-mutuel entities belie those conclusions.

    For the 12-month period ending with the close of the state's fiscal year on June 30, the total gross receipts came to $147.4 million, with another $9.4 million added for tournament receipts; that comes to $156.9 million. For the previous 12 months, the total of gross receipts plus tournament receipts reached $147.3 million. Doesn't appear that the poker buffs have lost their enthusiasm. 

    The Jacksonville Kennel Club, which led all venues last year with receipts of $19.5 million, was No. 1 again with receipts of just under $20.6 million. The Palm Beach Kennel Club was second again, showing an increase from $13.1 million to $13.6 million.

    The biggest change came in Marion County, where the phony Oxford Downs took in $3,567,149 and crushed the Ocala Jai Alai fronton, which took a severe hit due to the competition and dropped from $2,974,293 to $1,821,745. The fronton formerly accommodated the busloads of players coming up from The Villages, but those players now have their own facility, just minutes away from their homes. 

    Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs each checked in at more than $4 million, but both were eclipsed by Hialeah Park, which enjoyed gross receipts of more than $7.7 million. Two other dog tracks made the top four, Daytona Beach Kennel Club at more than $12 million and Orange Park Kennel Club in Jacksonville at more than $11 million.  


Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Add Traipse in Utopia to the list . . .

    With all the concerns about the quality of education in our schools these days, I always get a kick out of listening to the myriad of mispronunciations that go out over the airwaves. And nowhere are there more than on our favorite racing channel, TVG.

    I can't include the incessant bungling of Leparoux because the boobs didn't take French when they were younger. But some of the others, such as inclement, mischievous, mambo, machinations and too many others to list, make one wonder just what the analysts were doing in the classroom when they were supposed to be studying. Handicapping, I guess.

    A humorous new addition popped up in the ninth race at Finger Lakes today. The 9 horse was a New York-bred named Traipse in Utopia, not surprisingly, by Utopia out of Traipse. The TVG newbie, whose voice I had never heard before - I think his name is Scott - handicapped the race for us and called the horse Trap-see. Bingo - another name to add to the extensive bungled list. I wondered if Scott would pay attention to the track announcer and come back with the right pronunciation when it was over. 

    And presto! The announcer let us know that No. 9 was Traps in Utopia. Oh well.

    A little while later, in mentioning a horse at Presque Isle named Blichton, after our own little horse community, he called it "Blinton." When Blichton made a good run through the stretch to win the race at 6-1, the announcer called him "Blickton," and that's when Scott changed his call to Blickton, too. Better than Blinton, I guess.

    THREE STAKES-PLACED RUNNERS - Brethren didn't get a winner in four chances in Saturday's stakes races, but Pleasant Acres' freshman son of Distorted Humor did come away with three stakes-placed runners. Dunk finished second in the $100,000 Dr. Fager Stakes at Gulfstream Park and Awesome Mass did likewise in the $100,000 Desert Vixen. Both the colt and the filly were well-backed at the windows, so that was somewhat disappointing. However, there was a  good reason - the winners, Phantom Ro (by 2 3/4 lengths) and Go Astray (by 4 3/4), were overpowering. Go Astray is by Northwest Stud's Gone Astray, who had Three Rules win all three colt and gelding divisions of the Florida Sire Stakes last year, and who is not taking prisoners so far this year.

    The third stakes-placed runner for Brethren was Feisty Embrace, who went off at 7-1 in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies and closed well to be third although never a threat to win it. However, her strong run through the stretch was impressive enough to make us believe she will get better as the races get longer.  

    WHERE ARE THE ENTRIES? - A couple of years ago, I complained in this space that the Blood-Horse was short-changing its breeders on their expensive stallion pages by not including all of a stallion's entrants under the column head "upcoming entries." I received a response a short while later from Eric Mitchell, then editor of the Blood-Horse. Eric explained that only the better races - stakes, handicaps, allowances, starters, etc. - were represented in the column, since breeders didn't want to publicize horses who were competing in the cheap claimers.

    The practice continues today and it's very disconcerting to anybody who wants to know every horse who's running by a certain stallion each day. And to blow open Eric's explanation, EVERY WINNER a stallion has, no matter how cheap the race, is listed under "recent results," right next to upcoming entries. How can a horse be too cheap so as to be excluded from the upcoming entries list, and then make it on recent results? Yul Brynner would have said 'it's a puzzlement.'  

    THE OWNERS COUNT! - And, not to let the FTBOA's Wire-To-Wire magazine off the hook, I cannot for the life of me understand how the charts from Gulfstream Park - and Tampa Bay Downs when it's open - list the winner's pedigree, trainer and breeder under the chart and leave out the owner? It makes no sense. 

    And, if the answer to the dilemma is that it's a matter of space, I offer this. There would be plenty more space if, on the page titled "Florida Stallion Progeny for (Monday) . . ." they would actually list progeny from Florida stallions, instead of including many stallions who stood in Ocala during the days of the dinosaurs but who have since moved on to other pastures. It wouldn't be quite as bad if the entries listed were old Florida-breds, but THEY AREN'T! 

    In today's entries, for example, Milwaukee Brew, who hasn't been here since the St. Louis Browns were in the American League, is listed as having Strike Me Again in the eighth at Fort Erie, and he's an Ontario-bred. I can't even remember how long it's been since Invisible Ink was here, and he has Pennsylvania-bred Invisible in the fourth at Presque Isle. It's the same for runners by Chapel Royal, Lite the Fuse, One Nice Cat, Shakespeare, Sligo Bay, Songandaprayer and Trust N Luck. All long gone, all listed with runners from other states.

    To the bigwigs at Wire-To-Wire: Nobody needs to peruse the progeny of a stallion from yesteryear who were bred somewhere else after the stallion departed. Get rid of them, then you can add the owners of Gulfstream's winners. 

Friday, August 4, 2017
Pleasant Acres stallion in the spotlight . . .

    Pleasant Acres Stallions' Brethren has a chance to make a huge move upwards on the freshman sire lists tomorrow with no less than four entrants scheduled to contest three stakes races. 

    Dunk and Tip Sheet, both owned and bred by Arindel, are entered in the field of eight for the $100,000 Dr. Fager Stakes in the first round of the Florida Sire Stakes series. Dunk broke his maiden by 8 3/4 lengths on July 15, getting 5 1/2 furlongs in an excellent 1:04.82. He has talented Emisael Jaramillo in the saddle. Tip Sheet won on July 6 with five furlongs in :59.49 and has Aby Medina aboard. 

    In the $100,000 Desert Vixen, the companion race for fillies, Awesome Mass should be favored off her 11 3/4-length score on July 20, in which she raced five furlongs in :57.18, just four-fifths of a second off the track record. Jaramillo is aboard the filly. There are eight set to go in the six-furlong test. 

    At Louisiana Downs, Feisty Embrace has Colby Hernandez aboard for the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies. The Louisiana-bred filly owned and bred by Matalona Thoroughbreds broke her maiden at Evangeline Downs on June 16, becoming Brethren's first winner.   

Monday, July 31, 2017
Only three are up from previous year . . .

    The total "credits in" and net slot revenue for South Florida's eight racinos reached new heights for the 2016-2017 fiscal year that ended on June 30. But as they say, looks can be deceiving.

    The credits in for the recently concluded period totaled more than $8.432 billion, a modest increase when compared to the previous record of $8.237 billion from the year before. However, the 2015-2016 fiscal year included the figures for Dania Jai Alai beginning six months into the session - Dania re-opened in January after a lengthy hiatus due to extensive renovations. 

    Without Dania's increase of $239 million due to its extra six months of play, the other seven were actually down slightly as a group for the first time since Hialeah became the last to enter the arena in August of 2013. Aside from Dania, only Calder Racino and Hialeah Park showed gains in wagering - perennial leader Pompano Park, Gulfstream Park, Hollywood dogs (Mardi Gras), Flagler dogs and Miami Jai Alai were down.

    Calder's credits in jumped from $991 million to $1.1 billion and slots revenue before taxes came to $78.1 million as opposed to $74.8 million the year before. Hialeah's credits went from $1.17 million to $1.24 million, and its slots revenue from $68.3 million to $73.6 million. Miami Jai Alai's credits in downturn was minimal, from $1.141 million to $1.138, but its revenue jumped because there were less winners.

    Gulfstream's revenue was down a little more than $2 million, from $48 million to $45.6 million, and Hollywood followed suit as the two continue to suffer due to their locations, just minutes apart.

    Once again, the state was the biggest winner, with the racinos donating a record $192,239,320 to the coffers, and, in return, the Tallahasseeans allowing fake news quarter horse "tracks" to prosper at the expense of the legitimate entities. 

(Next: the poker rooms).  





Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Unsubstantiated name-calling serves no purpose . . .

    The First District Court of Appeal earlier this week concluded that Florida breeders have a legal right to challenge the provisions of an annual plan that outlines the receipts and distribution of breeders' awards funds. In so doing, the court overturned a 2016 decision by Administrative Law Judge Bruce McKibben, who had ruled that Belinda Kitos' Southern Cross Farm had no legal standing to challenge any provisions of the plan submitted by the FTBOA as administrator of the awards program to the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.

    The Blood-Horse.com account of the situation drew a great many comments from horsemen, pro and con, although many more of the opinions stated were in favor of Mrs. Kitos and her attorney, David Romanik. But it's not the question of legality I want to address here, but the comments made by someone who signed on with the name "concerned Florida horseman."

    "David Romanik is a self-serving attorney who is using Mrs. Kitos to sue the only organization that is looking out for the best interests of the breeders in Florida," concerned Florida horseman said. "He is a crook that is strong arming his way into a regulated industry (Gaming) that is incredibly hard to get into. The multitude of lawsuits that Mr. Romanik has filed on behalf of Mrs. Kitos and his other clients against the FTBOA have been proven to be frivolous and without merit and are costing the breeders many thousands of dollars."

    First of all, let it be known that nobody "uses" Belinda Kitos. Second, it is apparent that CFH knows little about David Romanik's background or he (or she) would never have written the above nonsense. For the record, David's father, Leonard, was the attorney for Gulfstream Park in all the years when it was owned first by James Donn Sr. and then by James Donn Jr., and David was right there working alongside his father.

    Later, David worked in an important legal and supervisory capacity for both John Brunetti at Hialeah Park and Frank Stronach at Gulfstream. Along the way, he has participated in the writing and implementing of a great many of the pari-mutuel statutes currently on the books in Florida. He knows the laws backwards and forward, and that is why he was able to keep going on this issue and get it overturned by the First District Court.

    Going one step further, from the racing and breeding side, David purchased Caltech from the late David Goldman and all the son of Explosive Bid accomplished was to become a multiple graded stakes-winner in the 1980s, capturing the Gr. I Washington D. C. International and the Gr. III Lawrence Realization, while earning $726,944. Caltech led every step of the way into the stretch before tiring late to finish fifth in the 1989 Breeders' Cup Turf at Gulfstream. 

    So, it is ludicrous for CFH to call Romanik a crook and trying to strong arm his way into a regulated industry . . . he has been a major part of this industry for more than four decades. This isn't Trump and the stupidity of his name-calling and fake news. CFH needs to get his facts straight before making a fool of himself.