Archives for February 2010


Super Bowl Facts:

The 2010 Super Bowl attracted 106 million television viewers, making it the most watched program in the history of U. S. television. The 1983 final episode of “M-A-S-H” is second.

The cost of a 30-second advertisement was $3 million and sold out.

The Indianapolis Colts are the 7-1 favorite to win the 2011 Super Bowl and the New Orleans Saints are 9-1.

Some of the Proposition Bets that Pertained to the 2010 Super Bowl:

How many current NFL Players will be arrested during Super Bowl Week?

Over/Under 0.5

How long will it take Carrie Underwood to sing the National Anthem?

Over/Under 1 minute 45 seconds .

Who gets more mentions on CBS television, Archie Manning (Peyton’s father) or Hurricane Katrina?

Archie Manning     Even

Hurricane Katrina     Even

How Many Times will CBS show Kim Kardashian during the Game?

Over/Under 2.5

How Many Times will CBS show Bourbon Street during the Game?

Over/Under 2

Will a member of the Who smash a guitar on stage during the halftime show?

Yes +120 No -150

Horse Racing Business Proposition Bets for Thoroughbred Racing in 2010:

Will customers be playing slots at Aqueduct by the close of November 2010 (even if it is in a temporary facility)?

Yes   Even

No     Even

In how many races will Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta compete against one another in 2010?

Over/Under 1 (no bets accepted from California winery billionaires)

The next time that either Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta (or both) race against equine males on national television, how many times during the telecast will the announcers refer to her taking on “the boys”?

Over/Under 1.5 (this is the anthropomorphic proposition) 

How many times will the announcers on the NBC telecast of the Kentucky Derby refer to the difficulties of evaluating horses that have run mostly or entirely on synthetic surfaces?

Over/Under 1.5

How many starters will there be in the 2010 Belmont?

Over/Under 9

Between D. Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher, how many different horses will they start and run in the 2010 Triple Crown races?

Over/Under 5

What will be the average television rating for the 2010 Breeders’ Cup?

Over/Under .8 (as long as the powers that be at the Breeders’ Cup insist on scheduling against college football during the day, the ratings will continue to tank…how low can they go?)

What will be the opening weekend box office gross for the Secretariat movie in the United States?

Over/Under $6.8 million

What will be the price of Churchill Downs stock on Derby Day 2010 (at the close of the Nasdaq on April 30, 2010)?

Over/Under $38.20

Cumulative gross sales in dollars for 2010 at the Keeneland auctions will be at what level compared to 2009?

Over/Under + 12%

Total pari-mutuel handle on horse racing for the United States and Canada in 2010 will be at what level compared to 2009?

Over/Under – 3.5%

Copyright © 2010 Horse Racing Business


Kentucky is associated with the horse like no other state. Before the United States was a separate country, on May 24, 1775, the British colonists in the land known as Kentucky held a convention to begin to organize a primitive government. There was no place to meet, so the frontiersmen assembled under an oak tree, where they had built a platform for speakers and placed logs in front of it for delegates to sit. The great Kentuckian, Daniel Boone, introduced “a bill for improving the breed of horses.” Colonel Boone would have been pleased, no doubt, if he could have known that Kentucky would become the heart and soul of a thriving breeding industry.

The renowned Henry Clay and other horsemen met at Postlethwait’s Tavern in Lexington in 1797 to form the original Kentucky Jockey Club for the purpose of establishing rules for Kentucky race meets. In 1828, Dr. Elisha Warfield, known as the “Father of the Kentucky Turf”–who was a breeder of Thoroughbreds, most notably the stallion Lexington–opened the Kentucky Association racetrack in Lexington, which survived until 1933. One of its presidents was John C. Breckinridge, still the youngest person ever to serve as vice president of the United States.

In 1935, prominent Central Kentucky horsemen Hal Price Headley, Jack Young, A. B. Gay, Brownell Combs, W. H. Courtney, and others purchased 147 ½ acres of Fayette County land six miles outside Lexington, from J. O. “Jack” Keene, upon which they built the elegant and stately Keeneland racetrack. Keeneland was meant to take the place of the defunct Kentucky Association racetrack and thereby preserve the racing tradition in the Bluegrass.

Less than 75 miles away from Keeneland is Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. At the turn of the 20th century, Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby had been around for 25 years but the racetrack was in danger of closing owing to financial issues. In 1902, a group of leading businesspeople took over the operation to attempt to save it. They included the sitting mayor of Louisville, Charles Grainger, who became track president, and the businessman and tailor, Matt J. Winn, who was installed as vice president. The Louisville Courier-Journal wrote on October 2, 1902: “…it will be Mayor Grainger’s ambition to get local society intensely interested in the move, and to that end additional stock will be issued to persons of social standing, and the money thus acquired will be spent in various improvements…” Colonel Winn would live until 1949 and he elevated the Kentucky Derby into the most famous race in the United States.

In 1969, Churchill Downs once again was in peril. A company called National Industries intended to acquire the racetrack in a hostile acquisition. The “Derby Protection Group,” spearheaded by owners and breeders John Galbreath, Warner L. Jones Jr., and Arthur “Bull” Hancock, saved the day by outbidding the unwanted suitor for control.

This brief history paints an unmistakable picture of a cultural imperative that evolved in Kentucky, embodying the cultivation and vigorous preservation of the horse industry by a long line of notables: the pioneer Daniel Boone, the U. S. Senator and U. S. Secretary of State Henry Clay, the Vice President of the United States John C. Breckinridge, Louisville Mayor Charles Grainger, and prominent individuals from within and outside the horse industry.

What has happened in recent years to fracture Kentucky’s unofficial public-private compact that for over 225 years put the well-being of the Commonwealth’s signature calling card, its flagship industry, and its main tourist attraction, above partisan politics? Heretofore, a long and until now uninterrupted string of elected Kentucky Democrats and Republicans (and Whigs like Clay) have united with one another and with leaders from the private sector to sustain the horse enterprise through thick and thin. They apparently looked upon it as a public trust to be passed on from generation to generation. 

The confounding question is why any Kentucky governor, or legislator, or businessperson, or citizen would actively work to overturn the compact, the historical lineage, and, in so doing, eviscerate such a crown jewel? Why would a contemporary Brutus want to slay such a close friend of the Commonwealth?

Even Kentuckians with no connection whatsoever to horses are proud of the Commonwealth’s equine heritage. On Derby Day, every Kentuckian is an expert on picking winners just as everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. 

The most recent Louisville Courier-Journal/WHAS Bluegrass poll found that adult Kentuckians favor legalizing slots at the racetracks by a huge margin. Fifty-nine percent are in favor and 37 percent oppose. An astounding 85 percent want to put the issue to a statewide vote. The legislature has turned its back on the unambiguous preference of its own constituents by refusing to put an up-or-down vote on the legalization of slots on the ballot. Such hubris and the failure to carry out the wishes of the people have caused simmering anti-incumbent sentiment throughout the United States to boil over. No wonder people have such a low regard for their elected representatives, as demonstrated in poll after poll and by the resounding message sent by the outcomes of recent major elections in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia.

Next Week: What’s the Matter in Kentucky: Part II

Copyright © 2010 Horse Racing Business