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Jerry Connors gives you a run down in each race on harness racing Sunday at Pocono Downs. FIRST RACE – WESLYNN DANCER came out of fifth 3/16, had brief cover then onward uncovered to the lead 3/8, absorbed pressure, then drew away. ATABOY HANOVER moved second-over, blindswitched from past the 5/8 through late on the turn, then swung four-wide and was just up to grab second from SKYWAY COBRA. The latter took the pocket early, looked to quarter-move but rethought, was trapped in headstretch, slid clear midstretch and finished sharply. WINNERESS moved three-wide from third-over 5/8, urged on the turn but couldn’t continue to gain significantly. FRANKIE MULLINS tucked third at the 1/8, shuffled to last, came clear too late. MARION GONDOLIER never went to the rail, left uncovered 3/8 as the winner cleared, challenged, faded in the stretch. LADY EAGLE went to the early lead, yielded 3/8 for the two-hole, nothing left for the stretch. SECOND RACE – CHARMBO CURIOSITY was three-wide past the 1/8, then with cover until the ¼, then out raw battling for the lead, showed great heart in going by the leader on the turn and winning safely. HASTY WESTERN had to check when PANEDICTINE broke before the 3/8, recovered, moved out alertly off the second turn to second-over, not as much as the winner but steadily. MUST BE THE BUNNY came through after the start and was the innermost of the three fastest leavers, yielded at the ¼, shuffled when the pacesetter gave way on the turn, Pocono Pike, OK. FOX VALLEY BAILEY and RAMBLIN BOB were out in the cover flow but were not major factors. JUST THAT made the lead just past the 3/16, under pressure most of the way, gave way on the far turn. ROCKAVELLIAN wasn’t prominent. PANEDICTINE spotted fifth, then made a break just the 5/16.  THIRD RACE – QUEENS LONELY EARL left quickly three-wide for the lead into the first turn, kept a foe out to the ¼, let that one go but retook to the 3/8, then threw successive 28.1s home to leave these in his dust. WESTERN CREDIT was between horses early and looped, went on to ¼ command, yielded 3/8 for the two-hole, no threat to the winner but good to be far clear of the others. STAR STUDDED CAST showed some early foot, yielded, couldn’t keep up in the last ¼. HAILEYSGONEDANCING was no threat; nor was PUT ON THE DAY. CITY KID was second-over, left raw 11/16 after a breaker, couldn’t get close. CASINO CUTIE IT started uncovered into McCarthy’s Corner, not advancing all that quickly when breaking 11/16. FOURTH RACE – HEZA YANKEEWYNR was on the lead by the 3/16, got a slow half, opened a clear advantage down the backstretch, stayed clear under measuring tactics while looking to tire a little. ALVISI HANOVER was not away quickly, came uncovered starting towards the clubhouse turn, didn’t quite have the speed to reach an open pocket, but tried hard through the lane and was narrowing in. NEOLOGISM was behind dull cover, three-wide much of the final turn and showed a solid late punch. MCADOO was second-over, gapped late on the backstretch, ducked in on the turn. GET TORQED sat the pocket, not enough speed here. FORTUNES ONE offered little. WILL OF THE MONSTER was inside when he broke 5/8, was taken inside the pylons. FIFTH RACE – WARRAWEE QUALLY moved uncovered past the 3/8, went 27.1 the third quarter to wrest the lead away, not pressured through the lane. CHARMING HILL was originally behind the winner but gapped off turn two and let a foe out, three-wide around that one late turn and finished well for second. NARCIAN JEWEL angled behind the place horse for the stretch and finished steadily. EYRE HOSTESS N sat in, then backed out to second-over in front of a gapper, left uncovered before the ¾, fair late. KEYSTONE I WISH had early speed and yielded, sat in and was shuffled to last with nowhere to go headstretch, fair. ASHOK ACE was three-wide to the first turn, made the lead 5/16, got a second quarter breather, but had no answer for the winner ¾. UNBEAMLIEVEABLE was parked just past the 1/8, yielded 5/16 for the pocket, stuck behind the passed pacesetter, but had little response once clear in the Pocono Pike. SIXTH RACE – CINNABAR HALL made the lead past the 1/8, went a fast clip and bottomed out the field. MIDNIGHT ZETTE moved out uncovered down the back, slightly off the rail on the turn, had to move wide around the stretch breaker, accomplished that easily and was a good second. THERESNOWAY passed a breaker and tired horses for third. RUN AND TELL PAP yielded past the 1/8, gapped in the pocket a bit from the 3/8 on. EXPLOSIVE VICTORY was far back, three-wide headstretch and along for the last check. BOB N TONY never featured. PILGRIMS TIDE tucked early, came outside before the 5/16 to challenge, couldn’t go by the leader but went into the pocket past the half in front of a gapper, back outside for the stretch but made a break. TAROT left then tucked back fifth early, in the outside flow but gapped from down the backstretch. SEVENTH RACE—FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS left alertly three-wide and was on top into turn one, yielded 3/16 and stayed close behind a fast pace, found the most foot late in the Pocono Pike to reward Elvis fans. CRITICAL HANOVER left enough to keep a foe out while yielding to the winner, stayed connected pretty well, went between horses past early stretch as the pacesetter bore out a bit, just nipped BLOW BACK. The latter came off the rail raw 11/16 and advanced in the slowish back half (58 – 1:00). PUMA BLUE CHIP gapped the main bunch ¾, then finished decently along the inside. BABY WANTS never reached from two-wide. LADY RAM was looped leaving and was used to the 3/16 for the lead in by far the fastest quarter of the race, continued on the engine but had no late response. LADY ZETTE gapped at a couple of points then broke late. HOLY BONES was last when going offstride on the far turn. EIGHTH RACE – JK WILDFIRE was looped early and settled third, then came with a quarter move, got a slow middle half, roused once early stretch when MAJOR OFFENSE emerged close-up in the Pocono Pike but was going 27.2 in the last panel, which will win you a lot of maiden races. MAJOR OFFENSE left nicely to the lead past the 1/8, yielded 3/8 for the two-hole, dove down to the Pike and finished strongly. HEARTBEAT HILL started first-up entering the second curve, advanced, did well but outpaced a bit late. LUCK N ROLL K went up the inside late backstretch, swung out midturn but pulled behind a fading horse and had to check and go back to the inside, outside again after clearing that one and did well late. STARVIN MARVIN gapped third-over, then was forced wide past midturn when the second-over horse tired suddenly. PLATINUM had the early pocket, gapped out ¾. MARVALOUS FALCON did not fly tonight. YO CHEYENNE DELEO gapped second-over, then gave way badly in the last ¼. NINTH RACE – OHIO LARRY started first-over 3/8, was a grindmaster deluxe, never put in a backward step, made the lead approaching deep stretch and held off a competitive field. INDY INGOT was third-over, three-wide past midturn, good but just a little too far to come. CHIP WALTHER was outsped away, had cover then lost it and went on to the lead off the first turn, rated the half then sprinted coming off turn two, was mildly urged ¾ as he could shake nobody, held well but outpaced. WAR-N-MUNN was buried inside, swung into the path behind the winner headstretch, never appeared to be fully clear. SPORTSMANSHIP was the fastest early, yielded, to the deep Pocono Pike, couldn’t get there. THESPYWHOLOVEDME was in a hard spot fourth-over, swung widest in the lane and had pace under the wire. RESCUE PLAN was fast early and got command at the 1/8, yielded for the pocket, to the Pocono Pike, two steps shy here. SOUTHWIND WHISKI was second-over, blindswitched mid-far turn and never escaped the box. TENTH RACE – The Naps combine behind longshots after the favorite ran on the far turn … FREDDIE MAC was three-wide early then two-wide most of the ¼, yielded to the brusher in front of the stands, gapped off turn two but quickly got tighter, inherited the lead when the pacesetter broke on the turn, then just withstood AUTEUR HANOVER. The latter was looped early and in fourth at the 1/8, then started raw towards turn two, not alongside the leader when he broke, but still had plenty of fight in the stretch (albeit in a 30 kicker). ALEXANDRIA HANOVER tucked early, then found herself in the pocket past midturn, Pocono Pike, steadily. ANOTHER CHAPTER had good cover second-over, three-wide just past midturn, good but not quite good enough. MUAY HANOVER had no clear lane in the stretch. ZAGSTER made two speed moves to control the pace just past the 3/8, was clear midturn when he went to a run. WANNA MAKE MONEY misbehaved an 1/8 before the start. ELEVENTH RACE – THE ONLY ONE went on three-wide to the 1/8, two-wide to the lead 3/16, yielded for a pocket trip, came out in the stretch and proved the strongest tonight. KANDY KORN left between horses and took back to third, got room in the Pocono Pike right away, just made second over EI EI O. The latter was third-over, made a bad break 5/8 and lost 6-7 lengths, lit back on the trot like a house afire, gained boldly three- and four-wide on the turn and through the stretch – own last quarter 27.3. REIGNINGBLACKSWAN went out to defend the pocket early, then quarter-moved, got a cheap half, but outtrotted home. SONG OF THE VALLEY briefly came out third-over after the backstretch breaker but ducked back in, not a late factor. ON THE SLY worked out a good second-over trip, three-wide late turn, came up empty. SURFACE TENSION made an elongated first-over bid, stepped in 28.3 to challenge down the back, nothing left for the stretch. PEGASUS POINT didn’t do well at all. TWELFTH RACE – SKY GUY left, yielded to one horse and then retook, rated the half, had no problem tonight. SCHOLZ improved position early, gapped a bit past the 5/8 in a 27.4 third quarter but tightened back in, to the Pocono Pike and nipped ALONEINSPADES for the deuce. The latter was four-high to the 1/8, then down to two-wide to the lead 3/16, yielded for the pocket, came out in the stretch but couldn’t gain. R N NATE came on some from the back to be next in line. ER ROOM was out raw but never near the leaders. NONE OF THE OTHER TRIO ever achieved prominence. Jerry Connors

All four non-Indian casinos in state are missing their financial targets Little more than a year since their grand openings, two of New York’s four non-Indian casinos are asking the state for financial help. Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady and Del Lago Resort and Casino in Seneca County are both making their cases with state lawmakers as the negotiations for the 2018-2019 state budget wind down to the final hours in Albany. Details on their requests are elusive and, given the secretive nature of deal-making in the Capitol, quite possibly subject to change or outright rejection. But the casinos' financial data is readily available through an online state database. Both casinos’ performance (and that of the two other casinos) has fallen well short of initial projections offered when their backers were trying to sell their proposals to state regulators and New York voters were being asked to approve limited legalized casino gambling. Rivers projected tax payments of $69 million to $86 million during its first year of operation but paid $45.45 million to the state from March 2017 through February 2018. Del Lago projected $59 million to $76 million but paid $42.92 million. Meanwhile, Rivers’ first general manager departed in November and Del Lago’s general manager announced Tuesday he would be departing at the end of this week. Both had been with their respective operations since before they opened. Also Tuesday, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported that a Del Lago official was in Albany, asking state lawmakers to provide relief. The official would not specify what exactly he was seeking. A Del Lago spokesman would say only that the casino is suffering from recently increased and grossly unfair competition from nearby Indian-run casino operations. Details were likewise hazy on the request by Rivers. A New Jersey public relations agency working for Rivers said there would be no comment on the matter.  A lobbyist reportedly working for the casinos did not return a call seeking comment.  The state Gaming Commission and state Department of Taxation and Finance said the casinos’ requests has not reached the stage where it would be in their hands.  The State Division of the Budget would say only that “budget negotiations are ongoing,” which is certainly very accurate: The state budget deadline is 11:59 p.m. Saturday. However, Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie, whose district contains Rivers Casino & Resort, said he has been given a rough idea of what Rivers is requesting, and said he endorses it. In summary, Rivers seeks: To take 10 percent of the tax money it pays to the state and spend it instead on marketing. The goal is to increase patronage, increase gambling and thereby increase its own revenue. (This ultimately would bring in more tax revenue, Steck said; in the meantime, there would be no reduction in host-community payments to the city, county, city school district or to surrounding counties.) An end to the requirement that it pay the state to run security checks on its prospective employees. (Steck said that the state hasn’t been collecting that and doesn’t require it of the nearest competing gambling facility, Saratoga Casino Hotel.) An end to payments Rivers is required to make to Saratoga Casino Hotel to make up for revenue shortfalls in Saratoga. (An official with Saratoga Casino Hotel said this is inaccurate, Rivers pays it nothing — it pays the horsemen’s association to compensate for reduced prize money at the Saratoga harness track.) “None of this is a huge change,” Steck said, adding that the requests seem reasonable and he supports them. Thirteen months into the casino era in Schenectady, he considers Rivers a positive force in the city, having fulfilled its promise of increased economic activity in surrounding areas and a new revenue stream for the local municipalities. “I’m not a fan of casinos generally,” Steck said, calling them effectively a tax on the poor and the middle class.  He said he would have sought other means of boosting state tax revenue had he been governor. But he’s not governor, and the man who is, Andrew Cuomo, didn't share his views. So New York has four non-Indian casinos, and he accepts that as reality. Aware of the pun, Steck added: “You have to play the hand you’re dealt.” James Featherstonhaugh, corporate secretary and part-owner of Saratoga Casino Hotel, said the situation is unfolding much as he expected it would when the state authorized construction of a full-service casino 20 miles south of Saratoga. That is: a 25-percent revenue reduction for the Saratoga Casino Hotel, where the gambling options are limited to video gaming machines and wagers on harness racing. Featherstonhaugh expects nothing good to come of the late-hour move by Rivers and Del Lago to gain relief through the state. “I think it’s clear that the gaming universe in New York could be thoughtfully and responsibly reviewed with the goal being to have both a healthy industry which will continue and grow education revenue in New York,” he said. “But that cannot be done in 48 hours or 72 hours.” Featherstonhaugh thinks it will be another 18 months or so before the financial picture stabilizes for the two Capital Region gambling facilities.  Steck said he hadn’t researched the financial impact of Rivers on Saratoga Casino Hotel, nor has he heard any complaints about it. Rivers opened Feb. 8, 2017. A New York State Gaming Commission database shows that $1.99 billion was gambled at Saratoga Casino Hotel from March 2017 through February 2018, an 18.1 percent decrease from $2.43 billion in the preceding 12 months. By John Cropley Reprinted with permission of The Daily Gazette

WASHINGTON, PA, March 16, 2018 -- Saturday's Pick 4 (races 4-7) at The Meadows carries a $15,000 total-pool guarantee, and it figures to be a challenging proposition. The harness racing wager kicks off with the card's hotly competitive featured race; negotiate that successfully and you still must deal with a pair of 10-horse fields in the final legs. The good news: If the Pick 4 is as tough as it seems, the return will be handsome. Here's a look at some of the top candidates in each leg. Race 4- Preferred Handicap Pace #2 - Lincolnjames (Wilder/Burke) Caught late his last pair but shifts to inside post. #4 - A Real Miracle (Rawlings/Bendis) Close-up second two straight. If speed falters . . . #7 - Mykindachip (Palone/Burke) Versatile. Second start off layoff, should be tighter. Won 10/20 Hoosier Invitational, so he's plenty classy. Race 5 - Conditioned Pace #4 - Nitro Seelster (Merriman/Andrews) Winner last time in this class picks up Merriman. Drops and pops? #5 - Rycroft N (Charlino/Bendis) Huge effort last out for this closer seeking first U.S. win. #6 - Imideal Hanover (Wilder/Corey) Stepping up from NW Life races, but Wilder chose him over Rycroft N. Race 6 - Conditioned/Claiming Trot #2 - Icy Crystals (Merriman/Gillock) Just missed last out. Stalking trip could be the ticket. #3 - Keystone Violet (Indof/Simpson) Obvious speed, but she gave it up last time at 1-2. #4 - Kai Hanover (Naser/Stackowicz) If your budget can bear it, add this closer. One of these times, his late move will be enough. Race 7 - Conditioned Pace #4 - Sir Jack (Indof/Lieberman) Up in class but could pluck off tiring leaders in a field without standouts. #5 - VIP Bayama (Brocklehurst/Marashian) Best post position in forever. Must include. #10 - Drawing Dragons (Yoder/Gillock) Trailer will have to change his style . . . and he may like it. The action-packed Saturday features a rich variety of fan-centered activities. Mychoice members can compete in the Road to the Triple Crown Thoroughbred Handicapping Contest while all fans wearing green to celebrate St. Patrick's Day will receive a free Meadows programs and "Lucky Lenses" sunglasses. Programs and lenses will be distributed at the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) table. Harness racing bingo also is on tap. In addition, the MSOA will give away a $100 betting voucher each time a driver with colors that include green wins on the 10-race Meadows card. Drivers "wearing the green" Saturday: Wilbur O'Yoder, Tyler O'Stillings, Ray O'Paver and Mike O'Wilder. More information on any of the scheduled activities is available at the retail counter in the track's Racebook. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Columbus, OH --- In the latest release from Pathway, the U.S. Trotting Association's statistical database, new reports for harness racing summaries by specific track or state are now available. These new reports of horse's, trainer's or driver's information are searchable by any state or any racetrack for up to any 12-month period back to 1992, with the current year available at no charge. There is a small fee for reports prior to the current year. Reports in all three categories -- horses, trainers and drivers -- are ranked by purse money earned, but can also be sorted by any of the statistics in the lists. For horses, the reports include: foal year, sex, gait, starts, wins, places, shows, and purse money earned. For trainers and drivers, the statistics include: starts, wins, places, shows, purse money earned, and Universal Trainer Rating (UTR) or Universal Driver Rating (UDR), respectively. To access any of these reports, visit Users must have a Pathway account. There is no charge to set up an account. In addition to these and other free reports, users also can purchase a wide variety of Standardbred performance and pedigree reports. For a video tutorial, click here. USTA Communications Department  

Members of the WA Trotting Media Guild have labelled Chok Chai and Lady De La Renta as star bets on Friday night’s 10-event harness racing card at Gloucester Park. The West Australian’s Ernie Manning and longshot king Pat Harding believe punters can get off to a good start with the Gary Hall-trained Chok Chai in the opening event. “Chok Chai looks set for a triumphant return to Friday night racing after winning in midweek company at each of his three starts since an injury-enforced spell,” Manning said. “He has set the pace in his comeback races and barrier one gives him the chance for another all-the-way victory. Possesses an impressive career tally of nine wins and two places from 12 starts.” Harding agrees with his colleague. “Punters should get off to a great start in the first with Chok Chai,” Harding said. “The horse had a very impressive win during the week and coming out of barrier one should give Gary Hall Jr a great start to the night.” Veteran tipster Bill Brindley and last season’s leading tipster Stuart Lowe are in the Lady De La Renta camp. “Lady De La Renta is a standout in the third, going on her recent wins, and Rock Me Over appears to have too much class for the opposition in race seven,” Brindley said. Lowe is in agreement with Brindley. “Lady De La Renta has performed well against the State’s best three-year-old fillies, as evidenced by her last-start win,” Lowe said. “Will appreciate the class drop here and should win.” The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft is keen on Rockin The Boys. “Rockin The Boys was gallant in defeat when collared by Hot Fraternity in the shadows of the post last week,” Havercroft said. “From a similar draw he should again be on the pace and will take beating if he can reproduce that effort.” But TABradio’s Matt Young disagrees with Havercroft and has made One For Sassy, in the same event, his best for the night. “My best bet is One For Sassy,” Young said. “He is a very good frontrunner and is racing super for Dean Miller. He gets the chance to lead throughout here.” GPTV’s Ken Casellas has opted for one of his favourite horses, Major Catastrophe, as his star bet. “Redoubtable stayer Major Catastrophe should appreciate a massive drop in class and win the second event on Friday night,” Casellas said. “The powerful nine-year-old was far from disgraced in finishing eighth in the Pinjarra Cup on Monday when he clashed with superstars Chicago Bull and My Hard Copy and is my best bet on an interesting program.” Guild president Wayne Currall is keen on Rock Me Over. “This Kat Warwick-trained colt drops in class in the $25,000 Milford Homes Roofline Series 3YO Colts and Geldings Sales Classic Final,” Currall said. “With Junior in the bike and from gate three he should prove too strong for his nine rivals.” VALUE BETS Ernie: Stuart McDonald's re-instatement as Ooshtaa's reinsman is a key driving engagement. McDonald drove him to win and run second at consecutive starts last month. Overlook an unplaced run last Monday, when he was set a tough task. Pat: Lady De La Renta should come up trumps for punters. She has some excellent form and with Chris Voak aboard should prove to be a good investment for punters. Bill: My value bets are One For Sassy and Alfs Odyssey. They both line up from barrier one in the final two races and can lead throughout.    Stuart: Mister Tom Dooley has been racing well and loves the stand. Being the only runner off the front gives him each-way claims. Ryan: Trustytrev has had five runs back and made late ground when fourth to Bettor Not Knowing last Saturday at Northam. I liked how he got home on that occasion and this field lacks brilliance. Matt: Gotta Go Yanky turned in a solid performance two starts ago. C D Brown jumps back aboard and looks a chance at big odds. Ken: Nothingbutadream caught the eye when he finished boldly from last at the bell to be third behind Hot Fraternity and Rockin The Boys last Friday night. Wayne: Soho Eastwood is drawn to get a soft trip in the last race. Forget he ever went around last week as he was held up and never got clear. Is an each-way chance. To view all of the Media Guild Tips for this week click here. Good Punting.  Wayne Currall

MONTICELLO, NY -- It's the biggest of the new Upstate New York full-service casinos, but state financial records show it may have had the smallest opening. Resorts World Catskills, the $1.2 billion gaming and event complex located off Route 17, opened Feb. 8, more than a month ahead of schedule. That meant it opened with just a third of its hotel rooms and a handful of its dining options. Some gambling offerings -- like the poker room and private gaming salons -- weren't operating yet, either. "We're open, but we don't have all the pistons in the engine," said Charlie Degliomini, executive vice president for the casino's owner, Empire Resorts.  That could explain Resorts World Catskills' slow start in earning: Gaming revenues for its opening weeks in February failed to match the numbers put up by two other full-service Upstate casinos -- del Lago Resort & Casino in the Finger Lakes and Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady -- when they opened in February 2017. The Catskills resort, just off Route 17 near Monticello,  also didn't earn as much as either of those casinos did in a side-by-side comparison of the final weeks of this February, according to records compiled by the New York State Gaming Commission. Resorts World Catskills opened amid mounting concerns that the Upstate New York casino market is saturated. The three full-service non-Indian owned casinos that opened in recent years -- del Lago, Rivers and the smaller Tioga Downs in the Southern Tier -- collectively earned about $200 million less in their first year than they had projected when they applied for state licenses.  As a result, there's a lot of attention paid to the state gaming commission reports on what are called  "gross gambling revenue." That's what a casino keeps after winnings are paid out, but before taxes and operating expenses. Here's a comparison of Resorts World Catskills revenues with del Lago and Rivers: First two-plus weeks of opening: Resorts World Catskills: $8.7 million (February 2018) Del Lago: $9.3 million (February 2017) Rivers: $10.3 million (February 2017). Direct comparison of final two full weeks of February 2018: Resorts World Catkills: $5.3 million Del Lago: 6.8 million Rivers: $6.5 million Resorts World opened in February with 2,151 slot machines and 112 table games, plus about one third of its hotel rooms and two dining options. Resorts World Catskills expects to open more of its features by the end of March and into April, Degliomini said. The poker room opened this week, and two restaurants should open in coming weeks. Eventually there will be 10 or more dining options. Also still to come are Resorts World's private gaming salons, which aim to provide "high roller' customers with what the casino calls a "curated" gaming experience unlike its Upstate competitors. "So all in all, it's inaccurate to look strictly at the numbers so far," Degliomini said. "We didn't plan to open until March. So this is, literally, found money. We didn't even budget for it. Wait and see what happens when we get this engine fully running." Analysts who believe the Upstate casino market is saturated say Resorts World does have several advantages: It is closer to the big New York City market than the others and is geared to attract a significant numberof Asian and Asian-American clients. (Its gaming floor features several tables popular with Asian gamblers and much of its staff speaks Mandarin and other Asian languages). It also has a solid international gambling pedigree: Resorts World Catskills is owned by Empire Resorts, which also operates the nearby Monticello Raceway, a racino that combines harness racing and slots. The majority shareholder of Empire Resorts is K.T. Lim, a billionaire Malaysian gaming magnate. He is chairman of the Genting Group, operator of casinos and resorts around the world -- including those under the Resorts World name. In this case, Empire Resorts is the owner, and it is operating as a Resorts World under a license with Genting. There's also more to come: A Rees Jones-designed golf course is under development and a  family-friendly  indoor waterpark will soon be under construction. Both should open in 2019. Don Cazentre writes about Upstate NY casinos for, and The Post-Standard. Reach him at, or follow him at, on Twitter or Facebook. Reprinted with permission of the New York Upstate site

Grass track harness racing continues in both the North and South this week with Taranaki kicking things off with a twilight meeting on Thursday. Invercargill turn back the clock when they race on the grass track on Saturday for the first time since 1970, and Stratford also race on grass on Sunday. Alexandra Park hold the Pascoes Northern Oaks on Friday night with Addington also racing on Friday night.  Cheviot race at Addington on Sunday. Last week on the ringaround there were again winners and a large number of placings. Cran Dalgety had the best winning dividend last week on the ringaround when he thought My Field Marshal would go close in the Miracle Mile and he duly obliged at $6.70 and $2.10 on the tote.  Note: We will keep adding to this page if more tips come in after the deadline, so check back often   Taranaki on Thursday Jay Abernethy - Jay is going for Sol Invictus as his best drive this week at Taranaki in Race 1 Todd Macfarlane - Todd says his best chance this week is George at Taranaki also in Race 1   Alexandra Park on Friday night John Curtin - John can not see how they can beat Chase Auckland at Alexandra Park in Race 4 Cran Dalgety - Cran also likes the chances of Chase Auckland at Alexandra Park in Race 4 Stephen Richardson(TAB) - Stephen thinks that Jacks Legend can win at Alexandra Park in Race 8 Ricky May - Ricky thinks his best drive would be Kendra at Auckland in Race 9  Tony Herlihy - Tony thought Happy Place would be a place chance again in Race 11   Addington on Friday night Gavin Smith - Gavin is going for London Delight as his best drive this week in Race 1 Blair Orange - Blair thought Maahes would be his best drive this week at Addington in Race 2 Harnesslink Reporter - thinks Franco Noah can go close to winning at Addington in Race 4   Menangle on Friday night Mark Jones - Mark is going for Delightful Memphis as his best chance this week in Race 4 at Menangle   Invercargill on Saturday Brad Williamson - Brad says his best drive this week would be Our Foxy Lady on Saturday in Race 1 Matthew Williamson - Matthew says his best drive would be Driftin Away on Saturday in Race 3 Racechat - Lance thinks that Overcast is a good chance at Invercargill in Race 6 Brent Barclay - Brent is opting for Duke Of Wellington as his best chance this week also in Race 8 Geoff Knight - Geoff thinks that Fiery Ferret would be his best chance this week in Race 11 Rory Mcllwrick - Rory agrees and says Fiery Ferret would be his best chance this week in Race 11   Cheviot on Sunday Gerard O'Reilly - Gerard thinks his best drive would be Girls Let Loose this week in Race 1 Sheree Tomlinson - Sheree is going for Rocknpop as her best drive this week in Race 3 Jim Curtin - Jimmy says his best would be Trendy Bromac at Cheviot in Race 4 Terry Chmiel - Terry thinks that Titanium would be his best chance this week in Race 9     Harnesslink Media      

Cal Expo has announced that the guaranteed gross pool for the 20-cent Pick 4 on Saturdays has now been raised to $50,000, with the guaranteed pool for Friday’s Pick 4 remaining at $30,000. The Pick 4 is one of two wagers each night at Cal Expo with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate, the other being the 50-cent Pick 5, which is offered on the first five races of each program. "We started our guarantee at $25,000, went to $30,000. then $40,000, now $50,000, “ said Cal Expo General Manager Chris Schick. “The Saturday Pick 4 guarantee equals that of The Meadowlands and Woodbine. We have now joined an exclusive club. The low 20-cent minimum, coupled with the low 16 percent takeout, have certainly proved a powerful combination".   By Mark Ratzky Publicity – Cal Expo Harness

It should be another stellar night for the Halls - leading harness racing trainer Gary Hall and his youngest son, champion reinsman Gary Hall Jr - at Gloucester Park on Friday night, according to members of the WA Trotting Media Guild. Longshot king Pat Harding believes Junior could walk away with four winners when he completes his sixth drive on the card with favourite Runrunjimmydunn. “Junior should get punters off to a great start in the first with Red Hot Roxy,” Harding said. “This Pacing WA part-owned mare won well last week. She has banked more than $155,000 for her syndicate and from barrier two should account for the opposition.” Veteran tipster Bill Brindley believes WA superstar Chicago Bull will win the $50,000 RWWA Cup, but has made the “Little Bull’s” stablemate Ima Rocknroll Legend his star bet. “The meeting is packed full of interest,” Brindley said. “Chicago Bull appears to be a good thing, however Ima Rocknroll Legend is my best for the night.” The West Australian’s Ernie Manning thinks Runrunjimmydunn is ready to atone for his last-start defeat as an odds-on pop. “Runrunjimmydunn looks ready to re-enter the winner’s list after being unlucky when narrowly beaten at his past two appearances,” Manning said. “He faced the breeze two starts ago, then covered extra ground last Friday, when he also had a sulky tyre punctured. The four-year-old gelding, with five Gloucester Park victories, has won twice and run three seconds in his past five races.” TABradio’s Matt McDermott agrees with his colleague. “Runrunjimmydunn sustained a flat tyre when trucking wide late last week and it told at the end when he was beaten a half-neck,” McDermott said. “Though he’s drawn wide, the small field will help and he’s my best bet.” The racing co-ordinator at The West Australian, Ryan Havercroft, has labelled Chicago Bull as his best. “Chicago Bull has been in consistent form and looks hard to beat in the RWWA Cup,” Havercroft said. “With his main rival Bettors Fire drawn to his outside, he should be saluting at a short quote.” Guild president Wayne Currall agrees with Havercroft, albeit in a more succinct manner. “The little bloke’s the best horse in the race ... he just wins.” TABradio’s other Matt - Matt Young - believes the Mike Reed-trained Bechers Brook can win the $40,000 Caduceus Club Classic, a traditional stepping stone to the $200,000 Group 1 WA Derby. “Bechers Brook is a very talented three-year-old who has drawn well,” Young said. “From gate four he should be very handy to them and I think he will win the Caduceus Club Classic.” Two members who have won more Guild tipping competitions than anyone else - last season’s leading tipster Stuart Lowe and this season’s leader and favourite to take out the 2017/18 title Ken Casellas - agree that the Skye Bond-trained Tas Man Bromac will salute. “Consistency is a virtue and few pacers are as consistent as Tas Man Bromac,” Casellas said. “His 36 starts have produced 13 wins, eight seconds and eight thirds. He’s a splendid frontrunner and has impressed at his five starts in WA, leading and winning at three of them and being placed in the other two after being forced to cover a lot of extra ground. He’s my star bet.” And Lowe is in Casellas’ corner. “My best bet is Tas Man Bromac, a classy winner of the Northam Cup last start against a good field,” Lowe said. “Won three of his previous five. Ideally drawn and the one to beat.” VALUE BETS Pat: I think Mac Tiger should give punters a good sight. Didn't have much luck last week, but I think he will bounce back. Bill: Our Zac Whitby and Say It Now can surprise at odds. Ernie: Smo, with wins in New Zealand, NSW and Victoria, has a lengthy WA losing sequence. But he has drawn gate one and Aiden De Campo will take the reins. Matt M: Has been a long time between drinks for Bhagwan, but has been placed two from last four. He has good gate pace and should be fighting out the finish . Ryan: Sea Cider will be sitting in behind likely leader Red Hot Roxy and that would give her a good place chance in the opening event. Wayne: Most tipsters and punters will make Bechers Brook favourite in the Caduceus, but beware his stablemate, Golden State. Lewis jumps in the bike. Could be the blowout. Matt Y: Blissntheblack has been racing very well in the Great Southern and has drawn to get a soft run. Can work out late and win at each-way odds. Ken: Speed Man is capable of a bold showing in the Caduceus, despite the second-line draw. He’s inexperienced, but could develop into a top-flight performer. Stuart: My value bet is Maxentius who showed blistering speed to lead last start when a close-up third to Billy Mack and Runrunjimmydunn. This looks easier. Each way. To view all of the Media Guild Tips for this week click here. Good Punting.  Wayne Currall

Four spots are up for grabs Saturday, February 17 in Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment's $400 February Qualifier. The qualifier has a $400 total fee ($200 entry plus a $200 real-money bankroll). The format requires players to bet a minimum of $20 Win, Place, Show or WPS wagers on 10 Meadowlands races. Players can register on-site Saturday up until 7:15 pm. is hosting an online WHHC Qualifier with the winner gaining one $1,000 Final seat. Details can be found here. Twenty-nine people have already qualified for the World Harness Handicapping Championship presented by  A detailed list is below: ·         Meadowlands Racetrack: Summer Survival Challenge –Brady Kosic, Bill Zvara, Bud Olejniczak  ·         Meadowlands Racetrack: December 2, 2017: $200 Qualifier: Mike Petruccelli & Guy Gerber · October 20: Free WHHC Qualifier with one WHHC seat: Gary Respecki  · October 21: WHHC Qualifier with one WHHC seat: Travis Foelsch · October 28: WHHC Qualifier with one WHHC seat: Stephen Levine  · November 4:  WHHC Qualifier Game with one WHHC seat: Mark Kunen · November 11: WHHC Qualifier Game with one WHHC seat: Mark Kunen · November 18:  WHHC Qualifier Game with one WHHC seat: Russell Slader · November 25: WHHC Qualifier Game with one WHHC seat: Shirley Kunen · December 2: $10,000 WHHC Qualifier Game with two WHHC seats: Derick Giwner & Carlos Gutierrez · December 9: WHHC Qualifier with two WHHC seats: Stan Koper & Stephen Pozzuoli · December 16:  WHHC Qualifier Game with one WHHC seat: Gregg Sheehan · December 23: WHHC Qualifier Game with one WHHC seat: Rocco Dibello · December 30: WHHC Qualifier with two WHHC seats: Vince Sitoski · January 13:  WHHC Qualifier Game with one WHHC seat: Matt Minger · January 13:  $5,000 All Harness Contest with two WHHC Seats: Stephen Levine & Stan Koper ·         Meadowlands Racetrack: Saturday, January 20, 2018: $200 Qualifier: Ed Herr & Lee Stuckey · January 20: WHHC Qualifier with one WHHC seat: Brian Graziano · January 25:  WHHC Qualifier with one WHHC seat: Michael Rusovick · January 27:  WHHC Qualifier with one WHHC seat: Kenneth Snyder · February 2:  WHHC Qualifier with one WHHC seat: Stan Koper · February 3:  WHHC Qualifier with one WHHC seat: Jeff Billings The remaining Meadowlands contest schedule is as follows: ·         Saturday, March 10, 2018 - $200 contest with top 2 finishers winning WHHC Final seats ·                  Saturday, April 7, 2018 - $100 Last Chance contest with top 2 finishers winning WHHC Final seats On Saturday, March 3 TVG/4NJBets is hosting an online qualifier for customers.  The contest includes 3 seats into the WHHC Final plus travel expenses.  Buffalo Raceway is hosting a WHHC Qualifier on Saturday, March 24.  Tioga Downs has set qualifiers for March 3rd and 17th and Vernon Downs has qualifiers on March 10th and 24th with four people in total qualifying for the WHHC presented by Final.  Additional qualifiers from partner outlets will be announced in the coming weeks.  The World Harness Handicapping Championship presented by Final is scheduled for Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment and has a guaranteed prize pool of $75,000. For more information on how to become a WHHC partner outlet or sponsor, contact Rachel Ryan, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment ( or 201-842-5015. The Meadowlands

Folks who play fantasy sports have been able use their credit cards to do it. Not so, for horseplayers who want to bet on the ponies online. Card transactions for horseracing fall under a particular credit card code that identifies those types of transactions as a higher risk than other types of gaming transactions. Until now. And what a boon JPMorgan Chase's latest move could be in Florida, where -- try as it may -- even the state Legislature hasn't yet managed to kill horseracing. Earlier this week the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced JPMorgan Chase has begun approving credit card transactions assigned the horse racing code with advanced deposit wagering, provided they're a licensed and regulated U.S. company and provided a player is operating out a state where such wagering is legal -- which it is in the Sunshine State. This is significant because Chase represents the largest credit card issuer in the U.S., boasting more than 80 million active cardholder accounts. Advanced deposit wagering -- or ADW -- is something that allows pari-mutuel bettors to deposit funds into an account, then place their bets through the Internet or over the phone. Some ADWs allow people to deposit into an account directly through a checking account, but especially in today’s world, it’s understandable that people are loathe to set their banking information afloat in treacherous cyberspace. The positive thing for Florida, says the NTRA, is that Chase's decision to make life easier for bettors could significantly increase the "handle" at the state's five major tracks -- "handle" being race language for the amount of money bet on a single race, day or season. More money bet, more hope for Florida's horseracing industry, threatened by Legislature-assisted death by casino takeover. Said harness racing writer Brett Sturman, "We could certainly debate separately from a responsibility standpoint if players should be allowed to fund accounts through credit cards at all -- but to be clear -- the issue for horseplayers this entire time wasn’t restricted to only credit cards. As I can attest, debit cards (cards linked directly to bank accounts) have also been restricted at times ..." Some in the banking industry suspect the Chase decision could be a testing of the waters for anticipated national legalized sports betting. But whatever the reason, a less restrictive stance being adopted by Chase is welcome news for both the ADWs and for the racing industry. It also could lead to acceptance of transactions by other leading credit card issuers that have not allowed their Visa or MasterCard customers to use their cards to bet through licensed and regulated ADW accounts. In its announcement, the NTRA praised the Chase decision as a win for the industry and it looks as if it is. Those who may have been turned off from wagering online through an ADW because of previous difficulties may now find the process not as challenging. And as a result, pari-mutuel handle in horseracing is likely to take an upward jump. Florida's five major horse tracks serviced with ADWs are Gulfstream Park West,(formally Calder race track), Miami Gardens; Gulfstream Park, Hallandale Beach; Hialeah Park Race Track, Hialeah; Sunshine Raceway, Tampa Bay area; Tampa Bay Downs, Tampa. Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. @NancyLBSmith Nancy Smith Reprinted with permission of The Suneshine State News

Several members of the WA Trotting Media Guild have made the Bob Mellsop-trained Real Lucky their star harness racing bet at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The $50,000 Worldwide Printing Lord Mayors Cup (2536m) highlights an action-packed nine-event program where finding winners will test punters. But The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft, leading tipster Stuart Lowe, TABradio’s Matt Young and Guild president Wayne Currall all believe the polemarker Real Lucky can score an all-the-way victory for champion reinsman Gary Hall Jr. Havercroft spoke for his colleagues when he said Real Lucky had been flying of late and had drawn perfectly to score his third win from his past four starts. “Real Lucky ran a close second to Abraxas Blues in a heat of the Nights Of Thunder but failed to qualify for the final at his last outing,” Havercroft said. “This Friday he has drawn the pole and should be returning to winning form in the fourth race.” The West Australian’s Ernie Manning is a fan of consistent mare Alkiras Desire. “Alkiras Desire looks set to break through for her first Gloucester Park win in the seventh race after being placed at six of seven starts there,” Manning said. “Champion reinsman Chris Lewis, who had a choice of drives in the race, elected to stay with her. Second and third at headquarters in her past two appearances, she should be solidly conditioned after six starts since a spell.” On-course announcer Ken Casellas has pinned his hopes to another mare in an earlier race. “Forget Tajies Girl’s last-start failure at Northam and support her to lead all the way in the second event on Friday night,” Casellas said. “The Kevin Keys-trained eight-year-old excels as a frontrunner as she showed two starts ago when she set the pace and won from Gotta Go Gabbana. She is my star bet this week.” Longshot king Pat Harding believes finding winners will be a tough task on Friday night. “However, in the Lord Mayors Cup I expect Chicago Bull to bounce back to the winners’ circle,” Harding said. “He’s ideally placed from barrier two and this should prove a great opportunity for Hall Jr to take him to an early lead and land an all-the-way win.” Veteran tipster Bill Brindley thinks punters can get off to a flyer by supporting Speed Man in the opening event. “My best bet is Speed Man in the first race for the three-year-olds,” Brindley said. “He has plenty of ability and should prove too classy for the opposition. Stablemate Ima Rocknroll Legend can give Gary Hall and his son, Junior, a winning double by taking out the third race.” VALUE BETS Ryan: Ohoka Punter is drawn to get an economical run in the Lord Mayors Cup. With Bettors Fire the likely leader, expect one of five Gary Hall runners to keep the leader honest.  Stuart: Chuck Norris is back to a mobile here and is well drawn. His recent efforts have been good and he can figure at each-way odds. Matt: Chuck Norris has come up with the good draw and gets the nod for me as best value. Wayne: Hot Fraternity has drawn the outside gate, but he drops in class and if Bailey McDonough can work him to the top he’ll prove the testing material. Ernie: Whitbys Gamble, who returned in fine fettle from a Kalgoorlie campaign, has impressed when third at Pinjarra and fourth at GP during the past fortnight. Ken: Its My Lucknow begins from the inside of the back line in the Worldwide West Perth Pace. The Sarah Suvaljko-trained mare continues to compete with refreshing enthusiasm Pat: The consistent Alkiras Desire should prevail. With Chris Lewis aboard I feel she could be a good bet for punters. Bill: Albany pacer Good Times Ahead has displayed his talent in previous trips to GP and with Aldo Cortopassi in the cart is my value bet at the meeting.    Good punting. Wayne Currall

Jeff Gural doesn’t just own Tioga Downs Casino Resort. He’s the chief executive greeter. His uniform: blue jeans, orange Crocs and an open-neck, collared dress shirt with rolled-up sleeves. Gural, 75, a blunt, affable Nassau County native with an edge sharpened from five decades in high-stakes New York real estate development, is a fixture at his resort-casino in Nichols, midway between Elmira and Binghamton. He and his lenders recently plowed $160 million into converting the property from a racino to a true “destination resort” 30 miles south of the Finger Lakes. Now, he asks visitors what would keep them coming back for harness racing, eight eateries and bars, 32 poker tables, 950 slot machines, a 161-room hotel, golf and other attractions. Gural wonders how Tioga can boost gaming revenue, which recently fell 25 percent short of the casino’s $100 million year-one projection. Come Feb. 8, Empire Resorts’ executives will face a similarly daunting competitive challenge as they open Resorts World Catskills in a crowded, cutthroat Northeast gaming market. The $920 million, 1.6-million-square-foot, five-star casino and entertainment complex has an optimistic $277 million year-one gross gaming revenue projection. But that number is realistic if the project dazzles and draws heavily from the New York City area, said Clyde Barrow, a gaming expert at Pyramid Associates of Westport, Mass. With 2,157 slot machines and 150 table games on a 100,000-square-foot gaming floor, the Town of Thompson property will be New York’s 25th commercial or Indian gaming licensee. Resorts World Catskills, which will be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, joins a lineup of venues featuring horse racing, casino gaming, video lottery terminals and off-track betting. It will be New York’s 10th casino, including six Indian locations. Shortly after Resorts World Catskills debuts, the Oneida Nation will open the 11th, Point Place, in Madison County near Syracuse. Twenty-five years ago, scant gambling competition existed in the Northeast, until the Oneida opened Turning Stone in Verona five years after the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allowed federally recognized tribes to open gaming venues. Today, the list of luxurious casino-resorts and gaming options continues to grow throughout the Northeast, as every state except Vermont now has gambling options. Pennsylvania alone has 12 casinos. Two new casinos are planned in Atlantic City, N.J., even after market saturation led five of the city’s casinos to close from 2014 to 2016. And several new and expanded casino-resorts are planned over the next two years, including the bar-raising $2.4 billion Wynn Boston Harbor due next year. “There’s no question the market is saturated,” said Moody’s analyst Keith Foley of casinos in upstate New York. “Market saturation is like a game of musical chairs. At some point, there will be no place left for more gaming.” Statewide, New York falls far below the saturation levels for areas of the country considered full, such as the Tunica-Lula area of Mississippi and the St. Louis market, according to statistical modeling that Barrow performed for the Times Herald-Record. Barrow’s analysis also found that New York officials awarding gaming licenses in 2015 and 2016 misplaced the first four non-Indian casinos in cash-strapped, customer-short upstate areas with limited demand and spending power when they could have allowed one or two easily profitable projects in or near New York City. “What we’re doing isn’t easy,” said Ryan Eller, president and CEO of Empire Resorts, which is building Resorts World Catskills. “If you’re closer (to New York City), you can hit that same revenue number with less investment and less risk. This isn’t a layup. It’s a heck of a lot of investment and risk.” Resorts World Catskills’ operators hope to capture gamers of all ages with gaming and amenities they say are on par with Las Vegas and Macau. The project features an 18-story, 332-suite luxury hotel; a 2,000-seat event center for fights, conferences and concerts; and more than 10 bars and restaurants like an Italian steakhouse by celebrity chef Scott Conant. Subsequent plans include a mid-market boutique hotel, along with 15,000 square feet of additional retail, food and beverage space, due in the fourth quarter of this year. Nearby, the $150 million-plus Kartrite indoor, family water park and hotel is being developed by Pennsylvania’s Camelback Resort co-owners Ken Ellis and Arthur Berry III. It’s due by spring 2019. And golfers will tee off at Resorts World Catskills’ revamped golf course by mid-2019. Odds of success Resorts World Catskills’ leaders say their “comprehensive integrated resort” model will succeed because of the property’s quality and proximity within two hours of New York City. But given the glut of upstate gaming, the casino’s gross gaming revenues will be the real gauge of its success. To be healthy in year one, the casino must earn a daily average of at least $228 to $246 for each of its 2,157 slot machines and a minimum of $1,517 to $1,770 per table game, according to the Record’s calculations based on the project’s state license application data and consultations with gaming industry experts. In year three, after full build out, Resorts World Catskills expects its gross gaming revenues to grow to $301.6 million – meaning average daily earnings of $249 to $268 per slot machine and $1,652 to $1,928 per table game, based on the casino’s current number of slot machines and table games. To put those totals in perspective, the giant northeast Connecticut casino Mohegan Sun averaged $411 per slot machine each day in fiscal year 2006-07, when it had little competition, according to data collected by Connecticut. Around the same time, when Atlantic City’s casinos were still dominant, most averaged daily per table earnings between $2,200 and $3,000, Barrow said. New York’s three new casinos have fallen far short of those standards, as well as their own projections. Through the end of December, Tioga Downs averaged just $170 per machine per day, according to the New York State Gaming Commission. Del Lago Resort and Casino, in Waterloo between Rochester and Syracuse, earned $150, and Schenectady’s Rivers Casino Resort took in $209. Table-game revenue was even worse for Tioga Downs and Del Lago. Between April and December 2017, Tioga Downs averaged $873 per table game daily, del Lago, $1,346 and Rivers, $2,041. Signs of market cannibalization are appearing, too, according to a new casino saturation report by Moody’s, which predicted “Resorts World will be entering a very tough gaming market” in upstate New York. Although Del Lago and Rivers have expanded the overall gaming revenue market, they’ve also taken big chunks of revenue from nearby competitors like Finger Lakes Gaming and Vernon Downs, Moody’s found. Barrow’s analysis also showed competing upstate casinos’ gaming revenues have been cannibalized. “It’s a good thing that we didn’t have the right projections, because probably all three of the casinos wouldn’t have been built if we had the accurate information,” Gural said. “I think (the consultants) were using formulas that didn’t fully take into account the saturation factor.” Moody’s Foley recently downgraded debt for Del Lago to a rating of Caa2 or “very weak creditworthiness,” with a “negative” outlook for future ratings. It is on track to earn $150 million in gross gaming revenue instead of the $250 million Moody’s expected. Foley and the other experts interviewed for this article aren’t yet questioning if New York’s new casinos will survive, but they say it remains to be seen if they will gross enough gaming revenues to thrive. “From what states is (Resorts World Catskills) going to be taking people from?” asked Father Richard McGowan, a Boston College management professor specializing in gaming. “Let’s face it, no one will be coming from New Jersey or New England to go there. ... Good luck.” Politics over profits Resorts World Catskills’ leaders will rely on the New York City metropolitan area to supply most of its customer base. They’re also betting the casino will attract “whales” or big-time gamblers, particularly from the Far East, via its upmarket amenities. In line with industry standards, Resorts World Catskills expects to give away seven in 10 luxury hotel rooms to high rollers. The casino also is targeting Asian gamers in general with a gaming area designed for them. If Resorts World Catskills underperforms, it’ll be because of politics, gaming industry experts said. Gov. Andrew Cuomo sold a 2013 referendum to amend New York’s Constitution to permit more gaming as a way to bring jobs and investment to economically disadvantaged upstate areas. “These (new casinos) have been extremely successful from an economic development standpoint, creating all of the jobs promised,” said Gural, who added that he’s not ungrateful for his Tioga Downs license. “The real losers are the owners of the casinos who are not making the profit” they anticipated. Kevin Law, who chaired the state board that selected the upstate casino sites, was not available for an interview. “New York went into this regional resort-casino market long after that trend had been exhausted in this country,” Barrow said. “Globally, the trend is big mega-casinos in major cities. They should have just put a big one in New York City to be better positioned to compete against other forms of entertainment and to attract customers who don’t want drive 90 miles.” Building casinos in urban centers helps entice gamers of all ages, unlike the upstate New York market, where casinos are cannibalizing each other’s older customers, said S&P Global Ratings analyst Timothy Little. “Millennials tend to move toward larger population and urban centers, away from some of the more rural parts of the state where New York’s casinos are,” said Little, who co-authored a recent report on Northeast casino saturation. “It’s unclear to what extent these (New York gaming) facilities will draw consumers living in other states and abroad.” Sullivan County’s soon-to-open casino, located on 1,700 acres of the former Concord Resort property, is $600 million less expensive and twice as far from New York City as a failed 2014 Tuxedo bid would have been. Like Resorts World Catskills, the Tuxedo application came from Malaysian-Chinese casino magnate K.T. Lim. He also financially rescued Resorts World Catskills’ parent, Monticello Raceway owner Empire Resorts, from a potential bankruptcy in 2009 after it lost $38.4 million in 2007 and 2008, according to public filings. And he’s kept it afloat since. Lim is a key part of the family trust that owns Kien Huat Realty, an investment company that is the majority shareholder in Empire Resorts and Genting Berhad. The latter is part of the Genting Group, a $37 billion Malaysian gaming, biotech and palm oil conglomerate. Under a branding agreement with Genting, Sullivan County’s casino is using Genting’s “Resorts World” name, though it’s technically not a Genting casino. Colossal casino competition Although a 2014 Tuxedo casino proposal faced controversy for its potential effects on Sterling Forest, gaming experts said a site closer to New York City would’ve been assured success. Eller agreed. Resorts World Catskills “would be a hell of a lot easier if we were closer to our core market,” of New York City, said Eller, 42, who led the Tuxedo project’s application before taking Empire Resorts’ helm last year. A former Marine major, a Harvard MBA, and a 12-year gaming industry veteran, Eller is overseeing a 1,400-employee Resorts World Catskills entertainment complex that will eventually grow to 2,200 workers and $1.2 billion. That’ll occur by the end of 2019, when the $150 million-plus, 600-employee Kartrite Hotel & Indoor Waterpark opens. Regardless of location, for new casino properties like Resorts World Catskills to succeed, they must diversify well beyond gaming, said David G. Schwartz, the director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. “Once you could just put out quarter slot machines, but that’s not enough,” Schwartz said. “So, now they have to put much more emphasis on dining and entertainment options.” That’s exactly what Connecticut’s Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have done. Foxwoods’ Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, and Mario Kontomerkos, CEO of Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, said they’ve had to expand their amenities to remain competitive over the past decade. As the Northeast has grown more competitive, each casino has taken giant revenue hits since fiscal 2006-07, when Mohegan Sun raked in $916.4 million in slots revenue and Foxwoods brought home $805.5 million. By 2016-17, those totals had fallen to $602.3 million and $457.5 million, respectively, according to state of Connecticut data. Las Vegas model The two tribes pioneered the Las Vegas model in the Northeast. With funding from K.T. Lim’s father, Lim Goh Tong, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe heavily built up Foxwoods in Ledyard, Conn., in 1992 and ’93. Nearby, the Mohegan Tribe developed Mohegan Sun in Uncasville three years later. Northeast competitors have mushroomed ever since to emulate the Connecticut casinos’ success. To remain relevant, Connecticut’s casinos have morphed into cities unto themselves. With 9 million square feet, Foxwoods is larger than the Pentagon, and just 340,000 square feet is reserved for gaming. The rest goes toward dining, lodging, retail and recreational options. Mohegan Sun’s similar-size gaming floor is complemented by two luxury hotel towers totaling 1,563 rooms, a 10,000-seat arena, 275,000 square feet of meeting and function space and more than 40 restaurants, bars and lounges. Foxwoods has “put over $3 billion in the ground over 25 years, and it’s probably closer to $5 billion adjusted for inflation,” Butler said. “We know the (Lim) family well, and Resorts World Catskills will be a great property,” he added. “They’re brilliant operators, and the partnership with the (Kartrite) indoor water park is a great idea. But our market has shifted (to New England), so we’re not too concerned with what you’re doing in the Catskills.” Given how different Northeast casinos are, it’s simplistic to ask whether the casino market is saturated, said Jeremy Kleiman, a veteran New Jersey gaming lawyer. Foxwoods’ and Mohegan Sun’s leaders agreed. They say they’re in an elite class competing for whales. Or as Mohegan Sun’s Kontomerkos put it, “Walmarts compete against Walmarts and Nordstroms compete against Nordstroms.” At Resorts World Catskills, Eller too aspires to create a “destination resort casino” full of amenities, as opposed to the convenience gaming offered by racinos like Resorts World Casino New York City at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Yet even without table games, that Queens property – owned by K.T. Lim under his Genting Berhad umbrella – could compete with Resorts World Catskills. Resorts World Casino New York City averages a strong $404 in revenue per day for each slot machine, and Lim is currently expanding the New York City complex by $400 million, adding a hotel, restaurants, retail and more slots. To help Resorts World Catskills succeed, Roberta Byron-Lockwood, president and CEO of the Sullivan Catskills tourism bureau, plans to aggressively market the property as “a full-fledged, full-service, four-season, multi-attraction destination casino, appealing not only to New York and other states, but also to international visitors, and those from the Pacific Rim.” Marc Baez, president and CEO of the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development, touted the same marketing approach. He said Resorts World Catskills will thrive by building on the Catskills’ history of resorts, while capitalizing on local assets like Bethel Woods, the planned Town of Goshen Legoland and the future Yo1 Lifestyle Wellness Resort in Monticello. “We’ll pretty much have something to do for everybody,” Baez said. Eller is the first to admit his won’t be the biggest, highest-earning casino in the Northeast. But he said it has “the right investment and strategy as an integrated resort and the right revenue estimates” to create new gaming receipts beyond merely cannibalizing existing regional totals. Like Gural, who owns Tioga Downs, Eller said Resorts World Catskills’ success will be “built on relationships, and that has nothing to do with the distance,” because high-rollers have the means to travel most anywhere. But there is at least one key difference between the two casino leaders. Eller is more likely to greet whales in a power suit than orange Crocs and jeans. “Are people from the New York metro area going to drive 90 to 100 miles to go play table games” at Resorts World Catskills? Eller asked. “The reality is they already do, they go to Atlantic City. They go to Connecticut. They go to Vegas.” “We’re built on a Las Vegas casino model where there’s entertainment all the time,” Eller added. “You should feel like you’re stepping into a casino in Las Vegas.” By Daniel Axelrod  Reprinted with permission of The Times Herald-Record

Two more spots are up for grabs this Saturday in Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment's $200 January Qualifier. The qualifier has a $200 total fee ($100 entry plus a $100 real-money bankroll). The format requires players to bet a minimum of $10 Win wagers on 10 Meadowlands races. Players can wager on more than 10 races if they so desire. Players can register on-site Saturday up until 7:15 pm. is hosting an online WHHC Qualifier with the winner gaining one $1,000 Final seat. Details can be found at Twenty-two people have already qualified for the World Harness Handicapping Championship presented by  A detailed list is below: ·         Meadowlands Racetrack: Summer Survival Challenge –Brady Kosic, Bill Zvara, Bud Olejniczak  ·         Meadowlands Racetrack: December 2, 2017: $200 Qualifier: Mike Petruccelli & Guy Gerber · Friday, October 20: Free WHHC Qualifier with one WHHC seat: Gary Respecki  · October 21: WHHC Qualifier with one WHHC seat: Travis Foelsch · October 28: WHHC Qualifier with one WHHC seat: Stephen Levine  · November 4:  WHHC Qualifier Game with one WHHC seat: Mark Kunen · November 11: WHHC Qualifier Game with one WHHC seat: Mark Kunen · November 18:  WHHC Qualifier Game with one WHHC seat: Russell Slader · November 25: WHHC Qualifier Game with one WHHC seat: Shirley Kunen · December 2: $10,000 WHHC Qualifier Game with two WHHC seats: Derick Giwner & Carlos Gutierrez · December 9: WHHC Qualifier with two WHHC seats: Stan Koper & Stephen Pozzuoli · December 16:  WHHC Qualifier Game with one WHHC seat: Gregg Sheehan · December 23: WHHC Qualifier Game with one WHHC seat: Rocco Dibello · December 30: WHHC Qualifier with two WHHC seats: Vince Sitoski · January 13:  WHHC Qualifier Game with one WHHC seat: Matt Minger · January 13:  $5,000 All Harness Contest with two WHHC Seats: Stephen Levine & Stan Koper The remaining Meadowlands contest schedule is as follows: ·         Saturday, February 17, 2018  - $400 contest with top 4 finishers winning WHHC Final seats ·         Saturday, March 10, 2018 - $200 contest with top 2 finishers winning WHHC Final seats ·         Saturday, April 7, 2018 - $100 Last Chance contest with top 2 finishers winning WHHC Final seats Buffalo Raceway is hosting a WHHC Qualifier on Saturday, March 24.  Tioga Downs has set qualifiers for March 3rd and 17th and Vernon Downs has qualifiers on March 10th and 24th with four people in total qualifying for the WHHC presented by Final.  Additional qualifiers from partner outlets will be announced in the coming weeks.  The World Harness Handicapping Championship presented by Final is scheduled for Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment and has a guaranteed prize pool of $75,000. For more information on how to become a WHHC partner outlet or sponsor, contact Rachel Ryan, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment ( or 201-842-5015. Rachel Ryan

Members of the WA Trotting Media Guild have pinpointed champion New Zealand pacer Lazarus, classy mare Maczaffair and leading harness racing trainer Gary Hall’s latest edition to his stable, Wardan Express, as star bets for Friday night’s Fremantle Pacing Cup meeting at Gloucester Park. All three pacers will be sent out as hot favourites and, barring accidents, should prove the testing material in their respective races. Guild president Wayne Currall spoke for his colleagues when he said Lazarus was on track to overtake Monkey King ($3,332,513) as the fourth richest pacer in the southern hemisphere. “Blacks A Fake with earnings of $4,575,456 is the richest standardbred in the southern hemisphere, but Lazarus is looming large,” Currall said. “The word champion is bandied about too much, but it’s deserved in the case of Lazarus. “Victory on Friday night and again in next week’s WA Pacing Cup would see Lazarus surpass the third richest pacer in Australasia, Smoken Up ($3,607,985). “Trainer/driver Mark Purdon has also pencilled in the Hunter Cup and the Miracle Mile for the best pacer he’s ever trained. Wins in either, or both, would put Lazarus within touch of Im Themightyquinn, the second richest with stakes of $4,567,456. “Lazarus deserves to be talked about in the same breath as the above champions he’s the real deal and will prove it again in the Fremantle Cup.” Leading tipster Stuart Lowe, TABradio’s Matt Young and The West Australian’s racing co-ordinator Ryan Havercroft believe Wardan Express will make a winning debut for the Hall camp. Lowe spoke for his two comrades when he said Wardan Express had his hoof on the till. “My best bet is Wardan Express who has finished down the track at three WA runs,” Lowe said. “However, he faces a big drop in class here and has his best draw in WA in barrier three.” GPTV’s Ken Casellas has opted for Dredlock Rockstar as his star bet. “Veteran pacer Dredlock Rockstar bounced back to his best with an impressive victory at Bunbury last Sunday week and he should maintain that form by winning on Friday night,” Casellas said. “He is ideally drawn at the No. 2 barrier and is my star bet on the splendid 10-event program.” The West Australian’s Ernie Manning is a fan of Ima Rocknroll Legend. “Ima Rocknroll Legend is not in the elite bracket of Gary Hall’s stable, but he has become established as one of the most consistent pacers competing at Gloucester Park and he appears to have hit top form,” Manning said. “He should be able to overcome an outside gate, judging by his win after racing three-wide last Friday. His GP tally is three wins and six places from 12 starts.” Veteran tipster Bill Brindley has earmarked Maczaffair as his best bet. “Maczaffair has to be my best bet despite a wide barrier,” Brindley said. “She is low flying and can make it a hat-trick of victories. The classy Idealndiamonds is my other best bet.” Longshot king Pat Harding believes the Fremantle Pacing Cup will be fought out between the two Purdon horses, Lazarus and Ultimate Machete. “I think Lazarus and Ultimate Machete will fight out the finish of the Fremantle Pacing Cup with the WA horses Chicago Bull and Soho Tribeca filling third and fourth,” Harding said. VALUE BETS Wayne: Collie pacer Mighty Flying Deal has been racing in career-best form and looks a great each-way chance in the second event. Stuart: Bronze Seeker had a great run behind the leader when second last week. Likely to get a similar run here from the pole. Matt: De La Tourbie in the first race needs a touch of luck, but A C Lewis is in form and she should run well on her latest effort. Ryan: Devendra is drawn to surprise in what could be a high-speed Fremantle Cup. If the leaders burn early, look for Chris Voak to be extricating him in the late stages. Ken: American Boy is capable of leading from the No. 4 barrier and beating quality performers, including Our Jimmy Johnstone, A Piccadilly Princess and Delightful Offer. Ernie: Red Salute has slipped down in class and the veteran gets his chance for another victory after striking interference and then being slow away at his past two appearances. Bill: Red Salute and Glenferrie Rustler are my value bets. Both horses should go out at good each-way prices and can win with the right runs. Pat: Idealindiamonds won’t be sent out at any fancy prices but should be a good thing for punters.         To view all of the Media Guild Tips for this week click here. Good punting. Wayne Currall

There are two harness racing wagers offered here each night with a reduced 16 percent takeout, and one lucky patron at the California satellite in Monterey saw the impact first-hand last Friday when they held the only winning ticket in the 20-cent Pick 4 that returned a whooping $33,644. To put things in perspective, using the regular takeout, that ticket would have been worth $30,039, which is still a very nice score but a difference of $3,605. Using a ticket that went 4 by 4 by 2 by 3 for a cost of $19.20, the patron was able to string together longshots Winonefordoug and Place At The Beach while finishing up the sequence with a well-regarded pair of performers in 5-2 shot Art Genta and 3-1 Nutmegs Desire. In addition to the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $30,000-guaranteed gross pool, the reduced 16 percent takeout is also offered on the 50-cent Pick 5, which covers the first five events each evening. *** Friday's program at Cal Expo is headed by the Gary Budahn Trot Prep and a $6,600 Filly and Mare Open Pace. The field for the Budahn Prep will line up this way from the rail out: Rss Express, Silverlode, Franky Provolone, Winsom Kelly, Livid Luke, Dougs Hobby Horse, Cadet and Franks Best. Looking ahead to Saturday's card, the finals of the Shelly Goudreau and Robert Gordon will highlight the action with last week's elimination winners Major Jessie and Mystery Dragon and Lucky Ivan and Cantholdmeback heading their respective races. Delightfully Wild returns with a huge effort Despite being away from the wars for four months, Delightfully Wild was up to the task in last week's Filly and Mare Open Pace and got the job done off a pocket trip by a neck with Luke Plano giving directions. The daughter of Bettor's Delight goes about her business for Richard Morita and David Yamada with Lino Pacheco training and the 1:54 1/5 final clocking shaved a tick off her previous lifetime mark. "What a nice surprise to end 2017," said Morita. "We bought Delightfully a little over a year ago at the Delaware sale. We were fortunate that Gretchen Smith was there and looked over a number of horses for Dave and me. "As it turned out, Wild was for sale on the last day and we got her. Sometimes the 'best buys' are the ones you don't get, and we were lucky to get her after missing on some of our earlier bids. "She has been solid for us right from the beginning, but really started to blossom in the spring here, and in Chicago over the summer. We gave her a nice break after a hard year of racing and she has trained back really well. "We certainly didn't expect to win the Open after just one slow qualifier, but Lino has kept her sharp and has been impressed with how strong she has become. Credit for our horses' success is due to our trainer and drivers, who do a great job." Morita points out that Delightfully Wild is a case in point. "She had a tendency to get on a line, sometimes making it hard to keep her straight, but she seems to have matured and now can better use her speed. Our drivers have done a nice job with her, including Jim Lackey, Ryan Anderson, and now Luke." By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

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