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Horse Racing: Meadows inquire about slot options

Sunday, June 08, 2003

By Pohla Smith, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Officials at The Meadows and at parent company Magna Entertainment Corp. are exploring the kind of facilities they would create for slot machines "depending upon the best-case and worst-case scenario" of legislation under consideration, track General Manager Drew Shubeck said.

Tentative plans call for a 77,000-square-foot building for 1,400 machines in phase one of construction, Shubeck said. "We can do that while the regular racing operation is going on. Then we could build on phase two and three if the operation and the legislation warrant it."

But there is a contingency plan to house machines within the current building "because of a very high state portion [of revenue sharing] or if an enormously big buy-in limits capital."

There has been talk that if legislation passes soon, Gov. Rendell might want the machines up and operating by the end of the year.

Shubeck seemed confident that could be done at The Meadows.

Churchill, Betters pact

Churchill Downs and developer Charles J. Betters have entered a "definitive agreement" that would give the Louisville track an opportunity to invest with Betters in the construction of Pittsburgh Palisades Park.

Betters is one of several parties seeking the last remaining thoroughbred license available in the state.

His site would be in the Hays section, and the city Planning Commission has conditionally approved initial site work.

A horse named Roger

A friend of Roger Huston's has named a horse for the longtime voice of The Meadows because the colt has a "big mouth."

Roger the trotting colt is a son of S.J.'s Photo out of the Super Bowl mare Bags Are Packed. Foaled April 14 in Greensburg, he is owned by Bob Slowey of Mentor, Ohio, who is known for assigning his horses one name only. Among Slowey's other horses are Stan, Jeff and Rick.

Slowey said he named the horse for Huston "for all the contributions you've made to harness racing." But in a tongue-in-cheek letter to Huston, he suggested several other reasons:

"For one thing," Slowey wrote, "Roger has a big mouth. He came into this world hollering, and he hasn't stopped since. For another, he eats like crazy. His momma barely can keep up with his demands. And though I don't see it personally, some say there's a facial resemblance between Roger 'The Voice' and Roger the Trotter."

And a Hillary horse, too

As Harness Racing Communications put it, "Run, Hillary, run" won't be politically correct at trackside when Hillary's Hope, a 3-month-old standardbred, starts racing in a couple of years. Rather, the correct phase will be "Pace, Hillary, pace."

Morrisville has a highly regarded equine study programs in the nation, and students named the filly after Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was the school's commencement speaker a month ago. A bay filly, Hillary's Hope is by Space Shuttle out of Lindwood Tiara. Space Shuttle won 21 of 50 starts and earned $728,695 over his career.

Zito's court battles

Trainer Nick Zito has filed a complaint in federal court "for violation of his civil rights" in his continuing attempt to overturn an August 2000 decision by the New York State Racing and Wagering board handing him a $2,000 fine and a 15-day suspension for a medication positive.

New York's highest court declined to hear his appeal a month ago. Zito also has asked federal court for a stay of the suspension.

Local endurance race

The Fort Armstrong Horsemen's Association will play host to an endurance race at the Crooked Creek Horse Park, near Ford City, on Aug. 2. There will be a 50-mile and a 25-mile race. The ride manager is Ranae Procyk, who can be reached at 724-845-4502.

Nadia Lobell Stakes back

The $250,000-estimated Nadia Lobell Stakes for 3-year-old pacing fillies, which was not raced in 2002, will return at The Red Mile.

Eliminations, with guaranteed purses of $10,000, are scheduled for Sept. 1 (Labor Day). The $250,000 final is set for Sept. 8.

Pohla Smith can be reached at psmith@post-gazette.com or 412 263-1228.

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