At the wire, books survived

Feb 14, 2009 8:18 PM
by Mark Mayer | Today’s running of the Hallandale Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park can be seen in Las Vegas. Normally that’s a given, but not so over the past month.

"Everybody is happy now," said Mark Dufty, race and sports director at Jerry’s Nugget in North Las Vegas. "Nobody wins in that kind of a situation. Not the tracks, the books or the customers. It’s a lose-lose all the way around. It’s about time everyone came together."

TrackNet and the Nevada Pari-mutuel Association, which represents the race and sports books statewide, ended their nearly one month impasse last Thursday. The agreement allowed the booking and simulcasting to resume from the five tracks impacted by the dispute – Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita, Golden Gate, Oaklawn and Laurel.

"I think it hurt Nevada books more psychologically than monetarily," Dufty said. "It didn’t hurt us that bad because we were able to book other tracks like Philadelphia Park. Dollar wise the loss wasn’t significant, but it would have been much worse had it lasted into the major prep races and all the way to the Kentucky Derby."

TrackNet was associated with Churchill Downs and Magna International, which could have brought booking the Kentucky Derby and Preakness into question. Last week Eric St. Clair, director of race and sports operations for Eastside Cannery, Cannery and Rampart, said there was the possibility that his properties would not book the Derby.

Fortunately for all parties, especially the race fans and bettors, everything is back to normal.

"Certainly things can’t be worse than it was," said Matt Metcalf, race and sports supervisor at The Mirage. "We were really slow with two of our main tracks (Santa Anita and Gulfstream) taken away. There should be an immediate jump in betting with basically business as usual."

Race business was all good Saturday at Stratosphere and Arizona Charlie’s (Boulder and Decatur locales), which did not book races involving any of the five tracks during the impasse.

"We had a lot more bodies in the room the first day back," said Ed Malinowski, race and sports director at Stratosphere. "The dropoff in business wasn’t huge, but you could see it. We were lucky that the Super Bowl betting helped out that first week. It wasn’t the end of the world, but having every track back is where we want to be."

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