Monday, August 10, 2009

The Kentucky Horse Track That Cried Wolf

Well, wouldn't you know it. All that talk from Ellis Park owner Ron Geary about how his race track was going to close if the slots bill wasn't passed. The drop dead date? Labor Day 2009. If the bill didn't pass, there would be no racing at Ellis Park in 2010. The competition from slots-funded tracks across state lines was going to shut him down. He said it to reporters and he said in testimony before the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

I know because I was sitting behind him at the committee meeting when he said it. And now he's backing off.

And to show how serious he was about making people believe it, he applied for a 5o percent reduction of his race dates, although he didn't advertise the fact that he had left his options open as to whether he could reapply for those dates.

It looked pretty scary.

Then, when the General Assembly refused to be bullied by the scare tactics of the race tracks, Geary began what I have called "the Ron Geary Shuffle." All of a sudden, things weren't as bad as he had thought. At the beginning of July, he began talking about how his track "could remain open" in 2010.

Here is what I said at the time:

First it was that the track was definitely closing if we didn't vote for slots, and now it's a "longshot." Watch Geary slowly creep from "longshot" to "maybe" to "let me consult my horoscope" to "probably will" to actually filing the application for horse racing dates in 2010. I say 2-to-1 he does it. And after all those threats he made to the General Assembly last week that he was definitely shutting down. Mmmm mmm. An industry lobbyist told me that on September 7th, they were closing their doors.

Going into 2010 having not seen what we were told would undoubtedly happen if slots didn't pass isn't going to look real good for the slots lobby.

Well, 2-1 is pretty good odds, but now they are getting better because Geary is now well past the consulting his horoscope phase and is now approaching actually filing for 2o1o race dates. Why?
Couldn't be because Geary and other track owners were engaging in BLATANT EXAGGERATION of the problems they were having and of the need for slots at tracks.

No, no. We must cleanse our minds of this terrible thought.

On July 27, Geary filed for five additional summer race dates, and now, presto, Ellis Park is about to file for dates in 2010:
Apparantly, field and purse sizes have not suffered as much what was feared when slot machines were rejected at Kentucky racetracks. That's when owner Ron Geary declared the track's demise. But now, the Ellis staff is preparing paperwork to apply for race dates, next year.
So it is looking like Ellis Park's scare tactics were just as overblown as their rhetoric about there being 100,000 horse jobs (when, in fact, is was more like about 40,000).

Funny how that works.

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