THE ROOT OF THE MATTER: Self-proclaimed sports handicapping guru Wayne Root, who has fashioned himself as the ”˜greatest sports handicapper’ in the media, apparently doesn’t have enough faith in his selections to use his real name. That’s the message from a pipe who reports that Root entered one of Las Vegas’ major contests (entry fee of $1,000 or more!), but submitted his entry under a fake name.
“It’s not unusual for entrants to use a fictitious name, especially if it represents a group or syndicate of players,” said the pipe. “But someone of his background usually posts his selections so that the public can follow his progress.”
That is, unless you don’t want the public to know how you fare against the point spread!
Come on, Wayne, let’s see how good you really are! When GT finds out his nom de plume, we’ll let our readers know!
WATCH OUT GIRLS! Mattel, the toy maker, has come up with a vibrating broomstick that has been very popular with teenage girls. (Boys, too, I’ll bet!) It’s called the Nimbus 2000. It is a plastic, battery-powered replica of the broom used in the movie “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” It sells for $19.99 and features a “grooved stick and handle for easy riding,” according to Toysrus.com., and, “enhancing the excitement are the vibrating effects.”
It is written that parents are amazed at the toy’s popularity. One mom, who bought a broom for her son, commented in the website’s review section that his sister frequently “fights him over it” and complains that the “batteries drain too fast.”
Another note: “When my 12-year-old daughter asked for this for her birthday, I kind of wondered if she was too old for it, but she seems to love it.”
Another exuberant mom says: “I’m 32 and enjoy riding the broom as much as my 12-year-old and 7-year-old. The vibrations, along with the swooshing sounds make for a very magical journey!”
However, not every mother is delighted. One commented of her daughter: “It wasn’t until after she opened her gift and started playing with it that I realized the toy may offer a more than sensational experience . . . what were the creators of this toy thinking? She’ll keep playing with the Nimbus 2000, but with the batteries removed.”
THANKS, FRANK! Frank Stronach, top gun at Magna Entertainment (MIEC), is on the right track. He told a meeting of an editorial board at the Washington Post that he thinks the new racetrack devotion to slot machines is “madness.” While quickly admitting the need for slots, he said much more is necessary to attract new fans.
Stronach outlined a grandiose plan to transform his fast-expanding portfolio of racetracks into entertainment centers that lure bettors with upscale shopping malls and lavish sports bars.
He unveiled a colorful depiction of an opulent new Pimlico. Tradition is out the window. Instead, the new facility would resemble an oversized nightclub rather than a traditional racetrack. He told the Washington Post his racing palaces would provide content for a complex web of interactive, home-wagering outlets. Soft casinos. That’s what he would call them. They would utilize cable television, the Internet and phone betting. By doing so, Pimlico would tap an international market that wagers $85 billion annually on the sport, but just 1% on North American racing.
Stronach said that racing’ continuing failures are due to the domination by “clubby” interests. He thinks if racing gets boring, as it does, the track’s need drastic changes to compete with the array of entertainment options available theses days.
“Amen, amen,” said one insider.
His critics — instead of supporting the promising idea — are upset. It seems they haven’t taken care of proposals for backstretch improvements at Santa Anita. Stronach re-built the track apron, installed a large-screen television in the infield and constructed a huge restaurant atop the grandstand.
Let’s put the horse before the cart. Everyone knows the value of good backstretch employees. But, compared to keeping the patron pleased, what is more important?
WHERE’S THE BEEF? “Forget the beef”¦where’s the food?” asked one of our readers when he showed up recently at the Massachusetts trotting track, Plainridge Racecourse.
“There ain’t any,” was the response he got.
“Can you imagine a racetrack without food stands,” said the pipe. “In all my years of attending races at tracks, large and small, in all parts of the country, I’ve never been to a track that didn’t have a food concessionaire of some sort.
“Why, old Louie Jacobs made a fortune selling hot dogs at racetracks, and ball parks, and other sports venues.
“Maybe some enterprising young fella ought to get himself one of those hot dog carts you see so prominently on the streets of New York and set up a stand at the track grandstand. He’d probably make a fortune,” the pipe added.
AND HOW ABOUT THAT MULE DUEL: Speaking of racetracks, you’ve got to give it to the folks at Del Mar for promoting and staging the match race Sunday between the west coast champion racing mules, Black Ruby and her nemesis, Taz.
There was no betting, at least officially, but that didn’t stop about 8,000 fans from lining the rails to see the long-eared beasts race about 440 yards down the stretch. Even before the mules entered the race area, the fans were four-deep surrounding the paddock area where the two jockeys were mounted.
The track offered a purse of $10,000, making it possible for winner, Black Ruby, to make another $6,000 for her owners, Sonny and Mary McPherson. That’s a total of $170,850 the 10-year-old female has banked.
For those who caught the race on the TVG coverage on Fox Net 2, there was an added feature. The race analysts screened the running of a match race between the highly-popular Seabiscuit, the easy winner, and Triple Crown champion War Admiral.
TAKING A.C. OVER VEGAS EXECS: “Joe Weinert must have had his tongue in his cheek when he wrote last weekend that casino companies are favoring Atlantic City execs over their Las Vegas counterparts” suggested our east coast rosebud.
“Well Joe is probably the most knowledgeable gaming writer out there so he must have had a reason for writing what he did,” we replied.
“In his piece for the Press of Atlantic City, he noted that Timothy Wilmott of Harrah’s, Wally Barr of Park Place, Mark Brown of Trump’s operations, and Jack Gallaway of Isle of Capri are all Atlantic City based or trained. Naturally, when he invited comments from those people they agreed citing such things as keener competition,” she explained.
Asked if he agreed, a Vegas-oriented executive chuckled behind his hand while throwing out some names such as Mandalay Bay’s Glenn Schaeffer, Mirage Resorts’ Bobby Baldwin, MGM Grand’s Jim Murren and John Redmond, Rampart’s Bill Paulos, The Venetian’s Bill Weidner, and the teams that run those money-makers, Coast Casinos and Station Casinos.
“And, has he forgotten the major war between Steve Wynn and Donald Trump over Vegas-trained Dennis Gomes who now works for Aztar?” queried the Vegan.