Random Thoughts for a Monday

No Nay Never - Alan Crowhurst

Been crazy busy over the past two weeks, so sorry for the light involvement. But here’s like a couple thousand word diatribe to make up for it!

Stud Fees are a funny, and seemingly nonsensical, thing sometimes.

Violence (MdO) was retired earlier in the spring after a much ballyhooed Juvenile campaign that saw him open as the KY Derby's Morning Line favorite in the future books. Luckily, I never bought into him as a serious 3yo campaigner. To me, he was the typical precocious, early maturer that simply dominated his competition due to his relative early growth and not necessarily due to anything truly special. And while winning the G1-CashCall Futurity is a serious accomplishment on the track by any measure, it certainly does not make him a serious stallion prospect, in my mind. (check out some insights into his pedigree here)

But to me there is no way he's worth the $15,000 that was just announced as his stud fee. He showed soundness issues (he had nearly 3 months off after his MSW victory and was retired early) and to me did not seem like he was truly as good as the other 3yos he started to see in the Fountain of Youth. But who knows? He was retired immediately thereafter.

Yesterday, it was announced by Mike Repole that Overanalyze was to be retired. A son of Dixie Union and a winner of nearly 1.5 million dollars, he never really asserted himself except at Aqueduct and in an exceedingly weak Arkansas Derby. The last big son of Dixie Union's to be retired was Union Rags, who stands at Lane's End for $35,000. Overanalyze will be considerably less, as he is not a Classic winner, so let's say he stands for, oh, $15,000. Who do you breed to? Violence or Overanalyze?

Man, Kentucky Downs is killing it.

The purses at Kentucky Downs are amazing. On opening day they had first level allowance races with purses of $97,000. MSWs for $75,000 and up to $90,000. On the cards in the upcoming days they have a series of listed stakes with pots of $150,000. Via HPA Blog:

"In 2011, while instant racing was being conducted, Kentucky Downs had an average handle of $918,863.
In 2012, fresh off the largest takeout decrease in horse racing history, all the while making the races even more and more bettable, their average daily handle was $1,514,146.
Opening day in 2013, after carding some nice races, and adding another low rake bet,handle set an opening day record of $2,837,897, or 108% higher than last year.
In 2011, the entire meet garnered about $3.6 million in handle. They were close to doing that yesterday."

Remarkable how drastically lowered takeout helps spur increased handle, eh? This is all fueled by Instant Racing, the very machines that Churchill has eschewed under the guise of "legal issues". Now it has become a positive cycle: Instant Racing fuels larger purses and also allows for lowered takeout, which fuels increased handle, which allows for larger purses. Pretty cool.

Granted, the machines themselves, currently legal under pari-mutuel wagering despite the fact they are basically a slot machine, are contentious, however, the risk is clearly worth the payoff for a facility like Kentucky Downs. I know the same concept is not as productive as expected at Ellis, but they were just installed, and Ellis does not benefit from an absolute dearth of casinos in the local vicinity that Kentucky Downs enjoys.

But this goes back to the even bigger issue. When you think of states and their biggest and most productive industries, which of them do not aggressively promote, reinforce, and at times support said industry/ies? West Virginia would fight to the death for coal; Indiana does whatever it can for farmers; heck, Alabama does tons to promote golf. But Kentucky is basically willfully ignorant of the thoroughbred industry. The University of Kentucky just completed a study showing the gross economic impact of horses on the economy and the numbers of both dollars and jobs are staggering. In fact, Kentucky.com quotes the study saying, "Horses drive $3 billion in annual economic impact in Kentucky and create almost 41,000 jobs, according to the first in-depth study in decades of one of the state's signature industries."

But passing something a trivial as gaming, or overt tax incentives for equi-business, or increasing breeders and owners incentives are seemingly impossible. In an environment where literally every other state has legalized non-parimutuel gambling in the Midwest, Kentucky refuses to play ball. Then there's the current hurdle of whether tracks will even get the casino licenses that may or may not ever be issued. Why not? Who better to administer gambling in the state than organizations that make the lion's share of their income from GAMBLING!?! Plus CDI is a legitimate national casino operator, so why beat around the bush? And yeah, I know it's not panacea, I've said that about a hundred times here. But it certainly can't hurt, and Kentucky Downs has proven exactly that.

Keeneland September begins today! All is right in the world!!

Keeneland September is underway, and it really seems like the overall mood is extremely positive. There is a boatload of really good bloodstock in the yearling sale, and from what I've seen of the entries into the November sale, it is much the same. I was at the November Sale last year and the attitude was pretty negative, in fact, I spoke to Matt about it. It was slow, interest in anything but the extreme high end hips was lacking, but it still turned out to be a pretty positive sale. The mood, in my opinion, was heavily influenced by the unknown. The fact that, at that time, there was basically nothing known about future taxes, the national elections, and a myriad of other government-centric issues really impeded any kind of positive way forward. Just shows how sensitive the industry can be to these types of issues. The Great Crash of 2008 actually probably did the industry some good in that the worst bloodstock is no longer being bred, but it also changed the dynamics at the sales. The best of the best is still in great demand, but everything else is much harder to make a profit with. We'll see how it plays out in the next few years.

No Nay Never, again.

Despite being laid up for the rest of the year, American European International my favorite Juvenile sensation No Nay Never's resume continues to strengthen. After Rizeena came out of her 2nd in the G1-Prix Morny and won the G1-Moyglare Stud Stakes, Solitary Ranger, who finished 2nd to NNN in a MSW at Keeneland in April, goes and graduates against graded stakes company in the G3-Arlington-Washinton Futurity in impressive fashion. Funnily enough, it seems NNN is everywhere you look right now: he's on the cover of Book 4 of the September Sale; The TDN over the past two days is riddled with references to him to include an interview with his consignors as a yearling, Paramount Sales; Coolmore's newsletter has a feature on him; Scat Daddy ads are obviously headlined by him. Everywhere I look, there he is! And as I say that, Jon White on HRTV brings him up again!!

That's it for my rambling this week. Time to devote the computer back to streaming Keeneland and the thoughts back to finding a steal or two.

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