More on New York Showcase Day

August 27, 2015

Below is part of an e-mail NYRA sent today about tomorrow’s card.  The fourth bullet point refers to tomorrow’s card as presenting six GRADED stakes.  Innocent mistake, or does no one at NYRA know what a graded stake is?  I replied with a correction; let’s see if there’s an e-mail blast acknowledging the mistake.

NY Showcase e-mail

NY Showcase e-mail

New York Showcase Day

August 26, 2015

I have previously criticized the New York Bred racing program as providing excessive subsidies to mediocre horses, at the expense of the bettors.  This Friday’s New York Showcase Day confirms my view.  An e-mail from NYRA touts “New York Showcase Day featuring six stakes for New York breds, highlighted by the $250,000 Albany.”  Since NYRA apparently sees the Albany as the feature race, let’s look at the horses competing for the $250,000 purse.

Of the seven horses entered, only two have faced open competition, and those only managed maiden victories, both at Santa Anita.  Force then failed twice at the preliminary allowance level at Santa Anita and Churchill Downs before winning the New York Derby, a state-bred stakes, at Finger Lakes.  Battle of Evermore, despite several tries in open and state-bred allowance races and state-bred stakes races, has not won another race.  The running lines of the other five entrants show only competition in races restricted to state-breds, and not all of these have won state-bred stakes.  It is both a small and a weak field, even in the parallel state-bred universe, and no horse entered, I dare say, would have much of a chance in an unrestricted stakes at anywhere near this purse level.

NYRA keeps telling us that Saratoga has the best racing in the world.  Maybe it does on certain days, but New York Showcase day is not one of them.

Too loud and too sweet

August 12, 2015

I just returned from a trip to, among other places, Las Vegas, and I was very bothered by the volume of sound in several places I visited.  While I may be over-sensitive, I can’t believe that ear-splitting sound levels are good for the health of either the patrons or the employees of these loud establishments, and I question whether they are good for the bottom line.  When time permits, I’ll look for studies, but I find it hard to believe that sound levels I find uncomfortable to be present in are enjoyed by anyone.  Loud noise in other public places has become endemic — in addition to the dreaded airport CNN monitors, about which I’ve previously written, I often find televisions — usually competing with other background music — blaring in restaurants and bars.  In an age when everyone has a smart phone or other device that allows them to listen to whatever they want, is it really necessary for airports and other public places to bother those of us who prefer silence?

My trip exposed me to another of my pet peeves — screaming babies on airplanes.  Ear plugs are not a complete solution; what also would help would be to ask families who travel with young children, in exchange for the preferred boarding and the ability to bring infants along for free they now get, to sit in the last few rows of the plane.  It astounds me that Southwest, the airline I usually fly, will require a “Customer of Size” to purchase an extra seat if he or she intrudes on the space of one other passenger (the cost of which is reimbursed if not every seat on the plane is taken), while a screaming infant can terrorize dozens of people with impunity.  If the airlines really care about the comfort and well-being of their customers, they will pay more attention to the screaming baby issue.  I for one will gladly shift my patronage to any airline that does.

Further on the theme of too much, why is everything over-sweetened?  I have read that a can of regular Coke contains the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar, which seems objectionable on health grounds.  Why not offer an alternative containing about half as much sugar, which might be more pleasing to adult palates and less objectionable than artificially sweetened alternatives, most of which also are cloyingly sweet.  Reduced sugar drinks would appeal to those watching their calories and would result in good public relations for their makers, something the soft drink industry could use right now.

Oscar Wilde admonished “everything in moderation, including moderation.”  Time to return to the time when moderation is the general rule and not the exception.