JC / Railbird


Weekend Notes

Buzz builds for “Luck.” A producer claims, “it will be the greatest show on TV.” TV critic Alan Sepinwall (who writes some of the best “Mad Men” recaps out there) is excited — and worried — about the HBO drama, noting that it “may have the most prominent creative firepower, in front of and behind the camera, of any show in the channel’s history,” but what about Dustin Hoffman? Entertainment Weekly tabs the Oscar winner’s presence as a “breakthrough” for TV, while Santa Anita reveals what Variety didn’t, that the first season will consist of the pilot and “seven to nine additional weekly episodes.”

Sure, bring the kids for a day at the races. But don’t let them bet at Saratoga. (A trespass charge and an anti-gambling class? Oh, come on.)

Wow. Monmouth Park reports incredible results for the first 24 days of the “elite summer meet,” with attendance up 13% over comparable days in 2009, on-track handle up 43%, and total handle up an amazing 118%. The average field size is also up over last year, to 9.0, compared to 7.44 in 2009. Monmouth doesn’t mention claiming activity in its press release, but that must also be up by a huge amount, with 215+ claims so far. At the start of the Monmouth “less-is-more” experiment, Steven Crist wrote, “Gov. Chris Christie has said his goal is to make the racing industry ‘entirely self-sustaining.’ Unless handle increases from last year’s $3.1 million a day to $10 million, that isn’t going to happen.” That hasn’t happened, but with average daily handle of $7.6 million, Monmouth is still in a very good spot. [7/19/10 Addition: Business of Racing digs into Monmouth claiming activity vis-a-vis Belmont.]

By Ragozin figures, Blind Luck tops 3-year-olds of either sex.

After the Massachusetts state senate approved a casino bill 25-15 earlier this month, expanded gaming looked almost certain. There were just a few differences with the house bill to reconcile in committee, and a tight deadline for getting legislation to the governor. Difficult, but not impossible. Now, State House News Service reports, “… serious people are talking in somber tones about a two-week stare-down that yields nothing in the way of major legislation. The unimaginable — failure to sanction casinos despite Big 3 ardor and at least $1.8 million spent on lobbying during the first six months of the year — looms.” It’ll be a tense watch for slots supporters …

Yes, a gentleman!” I never tire of the General Quarters story.

Milch Reads “Luck”

This is awesome: David Milch reads from the first 20 pages of “Luck.” The reading, which took place at the Kelly Writers House in April, begins about 17 minutes into the audio (MP3). There’s a little dark humor, a lot of racetrack talk. It sounds very, very promising. (Thanks to Tony Hanadarko for the link!)

HBO has yet to make a decision about the “Luck” pilot, filmed this spring, but Santa Anita officials believe there is “a very strong possibility” it will pick up the racetrack drama, which stars Nick Nolte and Dustin Hoffman.

7/15/10 Update: HBO has picked up “Luck.” Said a network executive, “Michael Mann delivered a pilot from David Milch’s brilliant script that took our breath away.” Production will start this fall, the show will air in 2011.

Odds and Ends

From an interview in TDN with David Milch, on “Luck,” his new show for HBO:

I hope it’s going to be an awful lot of fun, but I am realistic enough to know that not every day at the racetrack ends with people skipping happily through the flowers. With anything that is a passion, I think it’s a passion because it accomodates a whole range of feelings, some of which are mutually exclusive. It’s both love and pain. I would hope this will render the full spectrum of emotions. If you ask me whether I’m looking forward to it, I’m absolutely looking forward to it. Do I expect it to be fun? I’m not sure.

Milch knows the darker side of racing and gambling well. Via o_crunk, a profile of the writer that includes a fascinating scene revolving around a tip.

A look can say so much:

The only anxious moment came heading into the first turn, when it appeared that Bunker Hill, under Chuck Lopez, would challenge Understatement on the front end. Following a glance from Cohen, Lopez backed off.

“I gave him a look like ‘Come on man, don’t do that to me,'” Cohen said. “Save that for the next race.”

Bunker Hill finished last in the Evening Attire Stakes, won by favored Understatement in 1:42.94 with unchallenged ease on Saturday at Aqueduct.

Zenyatta will race in 2010! Reactions to the thrilling news gathered here.

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