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Jan 06, 2006

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


The new Gulfstream Park opened their doors on January 4, 2006. After last year’s opening that was held in tents this year went a lot smoother. With only a portion of the of the racetrack open while construction crews continue to work there was some trepidation that there would be a lot of problems. According to the feedback it seems to have gone off with very little trouble. There were obviously some kinks that had to be worked out and they expect that when the track reopens a few days later they will be taken care of. Gulfstream is very hands on with their customers and are very open to suggestions coming in from fans because the fans are what keep these tracks going. When the facility is finished it will be something to see and the expectation is that by the time Sunshine Millions comes around on January 28th, there will be more areas of the track that will be accessible. To follow the redevelopment and get information on what is going on at Gulfstream, go to www.gulfstreampark.com. This site will keep you updated on the progress to let the fans know what is going on and is always open to questions or suggestions that they have. Let’s hope things go well at Gulfstream the rest of the meeting, they do the right thing by the fan and make them feel like that are important— lets face it, they are. Whether it is betting on the horses, betting the slots, or playing poker, without the bettors all these things mean nothing; the new building, the great racing etc. You need the fan and they treat them like they are #1. Kudos to Gulfstream and their management team.

The good news continues for Gulfstream Park as Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed a bill on January 4, 2006 that will allow Gulfstream Park and three other pari-mutuel facilities in Broward County to begin operating slot machines within six months. Despite the fact that there has to be rules drawn up that govern the slots the bill will also allow the facilities to begin operating under provisional regulations if the rules are not drawn up within six months. The bill that Bush signed will split the revenues from the slots at 50% to the state and 50% to the pari-mutuel facilities. With this bill passed look for the slots to be up and running within the six months unlike the NYRA which has had trouble getting the machines in place putting them in a position where they had to sell land and borrow money so they wouldn’t have to go bankrupt.

In some sad news one of the most influential American sires of all time, DANZIG was euthanized. He was pensioned after the 2004 breeding season but was euthanized on Tuesday, January 3, 2006 at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky. The reason for this was due to the infirmities of old age, according to officials at Claiborne. DANZIG entered stud in 1981, he turned 29 on January 1, 2006.

DANZIG is the sire of 21 champions worldwide from 22 crops. At the time of his death, DANZIG led all North American-based sires in number of stakes winners and percentage of stakes winners from foals. His influence also stretched outside America. His sons and daughters were highly prized at auction by European and Middle Eastern buyers. He has had sons who became successful sires, his offspring could handle all distances, they had speed, they could come from behind, they handled the dirt but he also became an influential turf sire as evidenced by LURE who was a two time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner. His offspring is a long list of notable horses that were great on the racetrack and in the breeding shed, DANZIG will be sorely missed, there are not many like him in the racing world.

As mentioned earlier in this writing, NYRA received a $30 million financial package which will help them through the year until they can get the slot machines up and running. The construction on the casino is expected to begin again in early February. The proposed opening date is January 1, 2007. This package will also allow for a possible rebate program that NYRA had proposed a few months back. With this new rebate program they will increase the takeout on win, place and show wagers by 1%, this will likely begin on April 1. This is a step at least in the right direction to giving something back to the fan.



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