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Volume 24 No. 158

Events and Attractions

Maryland Jockey Club President Tom Chuckas on Saturday said that the "Preakness brand 'has changed dramatically' in the last few years, citing an attendance bump in the infield celebration and increased security all around the racetrack," according to Jon Meoli of the Baltimore SUN. Chuckas said, "The crowd in the infield is up, and the wagers are coming in. All in all, it’s pretty much what we expected, and we’ll continue to fine-tune it." He added that the Jockey Club has "sought to find a balance between catering to old-school horse racing fans and drawing in new crowds who could become racing enthusiasts." Chuckas: "If I can get two percent, three percent, five percent coming back out of that infield on a semi-regular basis, that’s the added benefit" (Baltimore SUN, 5/19). In Baltimore, Chris Korman noted Oxbow won Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course before a crowd of 117,203, the "fourth-largest attendance" in the race's history. The total handle for the day was $81,940,233, the sixth-largest in history, while $50,251,542 was "wagered on the Preakness alone" (Baltimore SUN, 5/19). In N.Y., Tom Pedulla noted Chuckas estimated the security force at the event "had been increased by 50 percent -- including uniformed and nonuniformed officers -- from the initial plan drawn up last fall." The list of prohibited items "was extended to include backpacks, duffel bags, laser pointers and camera lenses that extended beyond six inches." Spectators were "limited to using clear coolers." Fans did "not typically object to any delays they encountered as they entered Pimlico; they seemed to welcome the feeling that everyone and everything was being watched" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/19).

A DIP IN BUSINESS? In N.Y., Jerry Bossert wrote the "biggest loser on Saturday may have been the New York Racing Association, which hosts the Belmont Stakes on June 8." With no Triple Crown on the line, the "best NYRA can hope for is a rematch between" Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Oxbow, but "that isn’t guaranteed." Orb’s trainer, Shug McGaughey, was "cautious, saying he wanted to see how his horse came out of the Preakness before committing to the Belmont." NYRA officials on Friday said that if a Triple Crown was "on the line, they could expect a dramatic increase in business with a crowd of 100,000." The race now is expected to "draw closer to 60,000-70,000" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/19).

TAKING THE LEAD: In N.Y., William Rhoden writes despite the "spectacle and the tradition of the Triple Crown races, the racing industry is trudging toward an uncertain future." Never has a sport "seemed so fiercely determined to spite itself, with factions holding onto power rather than galvanizing the industry." Perhaps racing is "an institution that is too big or simply too ingrained in the American psyche to ever disappear entirely." But it is "rapidly fading from our collective consciousness." Rhoden: "Who would be the best person to serve as this unwieldy industry’s first commissioner? A retired politician? A respected trainer? An owner?" McGaughey's assistant Robbie Medina said, "It has to be a man or a woman who has nothing to do with horse racing. Someone who is not going to be tugged at from 10 different places. Someone who is going to have absolute power" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/20).

The PGA Tour HP Byron Nelson Championship's announcement last week that it will move from TPC Four Seasons to Trinity Forest in Dallas was "incredibly bad timing," according to Rick Gosselin of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. In addition to players such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy notably absent from this year's tournament field, 14-year-old Guan Tianlang "missed the first cut of his brief career on Friday." The announcement that the event planned to "dump Las Colinas for a dump constituted piling on." Announcing the departure of the tournament last week was "akin to telling your wife you want a divorce on your anniversary." The event "generates more money for charity than any other event on Tour." Forget that a "quarter million spectators pass through the gates to annually attend this tournament, making it one of the most populous stops on Tour." Also forget that the tournament "caters to the players like few other events on Tour." Gosselin: "Couldn’t the announcement have been made the previous week? Or this week? Or next month? Any week but the week of the tournament. Show a little respect for a course that has so proudly staged the Nelson for the last 26 years" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/19).

COURSE CHANGE WON'T ANSWER EVERYTHING:'s Rex Hoggard wrote a change of venue "may not be the answer for all that ails" the event, but it seems officials are "at least asking the right questions." The tournament has become an "afterthought on the Tour schedule for most players." But it "seems officials and the deep pockets at AT&T, which is stepping in to sponsor the event, have realized the most important rule of the tournament business -- location, location, location" (, 5/17). Golf Channel's Charlie Rymer noted the timing of the tournament is “tough," as it comes "right after The Players.” The event is financially “very successful, so I don’t know if the date is going to change” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 5/20).