Friday, July 28, 2006

Little Susie Wakes Up to Wrap-Up Lone Star

The moment was magical. The Sleeping Beauty was awakened by the soft kiss of True Love. Her eyes gently fluttered opened and she stared up into the face of True Love, who remarkedly looked a lot like Lava Man ...

I realize that many of you are wondering what happenned to me. There are rumors that perhaps I cashed in the winning 10-cent superfecta on May 12th, which paid a whopping $18,748.29 on the first race at Lone Star Park (I wish). Lester Sippowicz of Gurnee, Illinois, has speculated that perhaps I joined a Buddhist nunnery and am now cloistered praying for world peace (nice thought but doesn't pay too well). And of course, good friend and exceptional Photo Shop guru, John, has been busy composing ditties about my absence.

I may have been moving and unpacking and rearranging my furniture over the past few weeks but horse racing has not gone off without me.

Lone Star Park just wrapped its 10th spring season and once again there are grumblings about "lower attendance" and "lower handles" and "smaller purses" and "Texas horses being shipped to Louisiana" and "Evangeline Downs and Delta Downs squeezing out Texas racing" and "why didn't the frozen maragarita machine work on May 19th" and "what is Chef Jake's recipe for key lime pie, anyway."

Lone Star's average attendance and on-track handle appears steady, although I have not seen the final numbers. General manager, Drew Shubeck, admitted that they made money but there seems to be a little bit of trouble with that pesky state to our east, not to mention the little pesky trouble we have with the Texas legislature that doesn't allow slots nor internet wagering. So purses are smaller and Texas horsemen are sending their animals out of state. Subsequently, being Texas-bred isn't as lucrative anymore either, thus there is a decline in the number of Texas-bred foals. Mr. Shubeck's answer to these problems: Add a bar to the first floor of the grandstand. Good idea. Maybe Budweiser and Jose Cuervo can contribute to the purses.

But Lone Star is a treat. Fine trainers still come here for the meet like Steve Asmussen ... oops, he's suspended these days. Bret Calhoun ... oh yeah, he received a suspension from the stewards a few days ago. Well, that leaves that much improving youngster, Cody Autrey, who hopefully will not get busted for underage drinking. Jockey, Monte Cliff Berry had an outstanding meet, setting a new track record with 103 wins. And when the Cody-Cliff tag team got together they won at an impressive 98.9%. Okay, that might be stretching the truth, but that t/j combo was formidable.

The horse racing bulls-eye in now on Saratoga. Genius Alan has launched the Saratoga Racing Daily and the TBA has added a couple of bloggers with their focus on that venue as well. And I'm sure that Dan Illman is busy crafting his insight on every Spa Baby that trots by.

So, it's that time of year. Time to make contributions to the off-track simulcast handle.