Castellano made the right call
Union Rags was the best 2-year-old to race in 2011 and comes from a stable that has already shown it knows how to win the Kentucky Derby. It was no doubt difficult for Javier Castellano to inform trainer Michael Matz that he would not ride Union Rags in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, but he made the right pick when selecting the Todd Pletcher-trained Algorithms.
Pletcher's strength and numbers are so overwhelming that a jockey and his agent would be insane to hop off the Todd bandwagon.
Bailey's Eclipse VotesThanks to his affiliation with ESPN and ABC, Hall of Fame rider Jerry Bailey became an Eclipse Award voter last year. For the most part, his ballot mirrored those of most of the other writers and broadcasters that cast votes. Bill Mott won the 2011 Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding trainer. During much of his career, Bailey was Mott's stable rider and it can be argued that Mott was a big part of his success. So whom did Bailey vote for? Todd Pletcher. For what it's worth, I also voted for Pletcher.
Gural Is On the MarkWhile being honored at Sunday's Dan Patch Awards, Harness Racing's equivalent of the Eclipse Awards, new Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural implored those in the room to commit to a program whereby 5 percent of the money the industry receives from slots goes not to purses but marketing. According to Gural, harness racing receives $500 million in slots subsidies. "We can use that money [$25 million] to clean up the drug problem, to put people in the grandstands," Gural said. "Think how often that can get us on national TV. I think everyone agrees this is not hard." Gural is right, yet hard-headed horsemen continue to stand in the way of any and all such efforts to divert slots money from purses to marketing. When the slots money is gone, which is inevitable, the grandstands are empty and their horses are going for $1,800 a race maybe then they'll see the light. Of course, it will be too late. Bill Finley is an award-winning racing writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today and Sports Illustrated. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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