JC / Railbird

California Jam

Why gadfly horse owner Jerry Jamgotchian is coming back to California:

… Jamgotchian said he feels California is a better place to race now because the “purse structure is higher” and smaller stakes fields increase the chances of his horses acquiring black-type than, for example, at Gulfstream Park.

“There are less horses in California to compete against. The new dirt track at Santa Anita is also an impetus,” he said.

At least someone sees a silver lining in the horse shortage plaguing SoCal. More than 2,400 horses stabled at Santa Anita and Hollywood, and Saturday’s Sham Stakes, the first of the track’s Kentucky Derby preps, only draws five — all maiden winners, but for Clubhouse Ride. What is really going on? Foolish Pleasure would like to know:

Can anyone explain exactly what is the real story behind California’s so-called “horse shortage”? Reading Steve Andersen’s piece in the DRF this morning it struck me once again that all we ever hear out of that state in recent years is excuses why they can’t fill cards.

Field size, reports Blood-Horse in an article on the horseplayers’ boycott of California, “is averaging 7.69 horses per race, down from 7.91 from the same period last year.” That’s with one fewer day of racing a week.

I’m not sure how much longer the higher purses drawing Jamgotchian will be around, if the boycott succeeds. It does seem to be attracting attention. It also may be making a noticeable impact. Thursday was the first official day of the action, and compared to the previous Thursday, handle was down 15.26% (from $5,454,129 to $4,621,858), despite steady attendance, the same number of races, and a difference of five starters. The decline was striking, after a couple weeks in which figures were down, but difficult to interpret.

Five for the Sham, but eight for Sunday’s El Encino Stakes, which features certain 3-year-old filly champion Blind Luck making her first start of the year. She’ll be running against the new dirt’s speed-favoring profile and front-runners Champagne d’Oro (the other G1 winner in the field) and trainer Bob Baffert’s Always a Princess, coming off a fourth in last month’s La Brea Stakes.


Beware of the spin doctors when it comes to the handle figures out of California.

Some people apparently cannot handle the truth.
Sad indeed.

Posted by The_Knight_Sky on January 14, 2011 @ 8:41 pm

You must be referring to Paulick’s post on Daruty’s numbers. Will you be doing a follow-up to Boycott Day 1?

Posted by Jessica on January 14, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

That’s already been done at Mr. Paulick’s post. The dude’s pretty good at ‘stirring the pot’. I can relate. LOL

I simply can not see now a 25% increase in purses can be sustained. If the leaders in California do not act what is best for business, they may wind up with a “purse overpayment” for future meets.

The bottom line is that increasing the takeout rates put more bettors out of business quicker.

#35 Jeff Platt reported (without the spin)

Last year (Friday): $5,779,308
This year (Friday): $4,605,141

20.3% drop in handle in Day 2 of the boycott.

Posted by The_Knight_Sky on January 15, 2011 @ 9:11 am

Last year opening Wednesday $5.6 million and this year under the exact same conditions opening Wednesday $4.0 million. 28.1% drop. California, no, Florida here I come !!!

Posted by Nancy on January 19, 2011 @ 9:13 am