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Paul Moran

For 30 years, more than 22 at Newsday, in New York, Paul Moran has covered thoroughbred racing on its highest level. During that time, he has covered 30 Triple Crown series, every running of the Breeders' Cup Championships, 23 race meetings at Saratoga, won two Eclipse Awards, a Red Smith Award for coverage of the Kentucky Derby and other writing awards from the National Society of Newspaper Editors, Long Island Press Club, Society of Silurians (the oldest press club in New York), Long Island Veterinary Medical Association, Florida Magazine Publishers Association.

In 2002, he was named New York's best thoroughbred handicapper by the New York Press in its annual "Best of Manhattan" edition. His work has appeared in virtually every racing publication published in the United States and most major American newspapers. He is a licensed owner of thoroughbreds in New York Contact: paulmoran47@hotmail.com.

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Friday, December 21, 2007


As year’s go, a mixed bag


In many ways, 2007 has been a test. It began with the death of Barbaro and has been overshadowed by the uncertainty of the future in New York. The defending horse of the year, Invasor, suffered an injury that ended a career that may not have reached its finest moment. One of the nations largest if curiously slapstick racing organizations, Magna Entertainment, all but ran aground and Middle Eastern interests bought and retired three of the seasons best three-year-olds. Yet, end to end it was it was a terrific year of racing marked by good horses who ran big races when it counted most.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association will make public the result of voting for racings most memorable moment of 2007 next month. It will probably have something to do with Barbaro. All end of the year highlight lists are entirely subjective since importance means different things of different people, but these are what we consider to be the biggest stories of 2007.

The death of Barbaro.

The ongoing saga of the New York racing franchise

Synthetic surfaces: The good, bad and ugly (Del Mar, Santa Anita).

Several states move to ban steroids.

Rags to Riches, the filly, wins the Belmont Stakes.

Curlin wins the Breeders Cup Classic; clinches Horse of the Year title.

Invasor, the 2006 Horse of the Year, wins the Dubai World Cup.

Darley buys Street Sense, Hard Spun and Any Given Saturday, retires them all.

Magna Entertainment puts up the for sale sign on everything; its stock closes at $1.01 (Dec, 20)

Churchill Downs says no mas to the Breeders Cup.

The Breeders Cup expands again to 14 races run over a two-day span.

A Saratoga County judge dismisses charges against Hall of Fame Jockey Braulio Baeza and NYRA clerk of scales Mario Sclafani

Three words: The Green Monkey.

(New Years resolution: Stop picking on The Green Monkey.)

Written by Paul Moran

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Saturday, December 15, 2007


A hint of Aqueduct at the Spa and other stuff


Saratoga is a forgiving place where much is overlooked or forgiven during the summer racing but not Saturday afternoon on which the Yaddo Handicap, a race restricted to horses bred in New York, is the feature. This works at Aqueduct, not the Spa.

Tweaking the stakes schedule is one thing but leaving yourself with a main event more appropriate to a Wednesday than a Saturday during the Saratoga meeting is not acceptable and symptomatic of an attitude that suggests a belief that the customers as Saratoga are oblivious to the slight. When a person is paying $300-a-night for an unremarkable hotel room, Manhattan prices in restaurants and $14.95 for a chili dog at the racetrack, offering a Saturday racing program on which the Yaddo Handicap is the feature is nothing short of an insult.

The effort to space important turf races more appropriately is unquestionably a good one but leaving a Saturday card at Saratoga threadbare will not earn any points with a summertime crowd that already has too many hands reaching into its pockets.

The addition of three more races to the Breeders Cup program has met with mixed reaction and here is where the racing office in New York has failed to recognize opportunity.

First, unless youve been lost on a South Pacific island for the last six months, the addition of a turf sprint, a race for two-year-old fillies on grass and a 12-furlong dirt marathon was hardly a surprise since it was suggested strongly by Breeders Cup officials before swimming meet at Monmouth Park that further expansion was on the front burner and already boiling.

Fact is that the first Friday Breeders Cup card worked brilliantly. The Breeders Cup has always been wanting for a mile race run on dirt and if the purpose is to create a great day of racing, a sprint restricted to females works as long as it attracts the best. The turf race for two-year-olds, while it drew to strong field, was attended by only one filly, which was probably inevitable. The addition of a race for juvenile fillies next year will rectify that shortcoming.

Still, of the original purpose of the Breeders Cup was to determine championships, there are none determined by the results of the Friday program. Here is where change should beget change.

In the grand scheme, should there not be an Eclipse Award for the champion miler? Female sprinter? Turf sprinter? Champion stayer? Not a problem. Make more statues.

Though the distance of races run at Belmont, Keeneland and Philadelphia Park in 2008 have been extended to 12 furlongs in advance of the Breeders Cup Marathon, by and large these races currently lack the preliminary Grade I races necessary to couch the Breeders Cup in a position appropriate for the determination of a champion.

Despite the growing popularity of turf sprints with both racing officials and the public, there are no established graded stakes in the division and the graded stakes committee has been inappropriately unwilling to bestow Grade I stature on the new Breeders Cup races, departing from a policy that applied to the first eight.

Nevertheless, this is an easily remedied American problem and the Breeders Cup is an international event. One of the most impressive individual performances weve seen this year was Sacred Kingdoms win last week in the Hong Kong Sprint, a race that for the fourth time in five years has been won by the highest ranked sprinter in the world. Properly promoted, the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint has the potential to draw an international field of similar if not equal caliber.

Nowhere has the turf sprint been embraced with more enthusiasm than at the New York Racing Association, which would do well to consider new stakes for turf sprinters with purses large enough to attract the attention of owners and trainers of the best at this specialty a race that could fill that gaping hole in the third Saturday card of the meeting at Saratoga, another in the autumn at Belmont.

Written by Paul Moran

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Thursday, December 13, 2007


Same old …


After a week of racing as it ought to be in Asia, the welcome home email contained links and references to dozens of stories concerning the still-unsettled racing franchise, none more bizarre than a piece published while labeled opinion by the New York Sun authored by Austin Shafran, a venomous political consultant retained by Capital Play.

Apparently the editorial columns of the Sun are for sale because the Shafran screed is in reality a advertisement cloaked in more dignified if entirely made of paper haberdashery.

The air in Hong Kong is not exactly pristine but insofar as racing is concerned it is at least free of the political flatulence that pollutes Albany.

Joe Bruno, the singular reason that no settlement has been reached in the legislature on the franchise question, continues to cling tenaciously to his absurd and delusional position. If racing is suspended on New Years Day, Bruno, who has no interest other than his own and is flirting recklessly with the fate of tens of thousands who stand to lose their livelihoods because the Republican blunderbuss in Albany fails to accept what has become inevitable. We have gone well past the point at which the headline Bruno blasts NYRA is news but rather a symptom of dementia.

The only sensible statement uttered by Bruno in the last six months is a call of daily meetings to settle the matter. Actually, someone should lock these people in a room until they emerge with an agreement. The simple fact of the matter is this: NYRA is the only player left in the game. Start there and work backward.


Written by Paul Moran

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