LOS ANGELES, July 13, 2014-Phase II of NYRA's experimentation with graded stakes concentration and purse inflation is in the books. Whereas Phase I essentially merged Memorial Day and Belmont Day weekends, NYRA's new race-card-filling impresario, Martin Panza, gave a “Martin the Magician” performance in the second phase.

Martin created two new Grade I turf stakes for three-year-olds from the “old” Jamaica and Garden City, sandwiching the traditionally featured July 4th Suburban Handicap.

Say this about Phase II: The move sparked fireworks in three straight Superfecta pools. Lamentably, however, the racing office/marketing/simulcast departments once again failed to get together on a [Graded] All-Stakes Pick Four.

The new Belmont Derby and Belmont Oaks at a mile and a quarter were both improvements over their previous incarnations, even if both million-dollar events failed to attract commensurate quality in our view. In any case, it did produce a highly bettable card.

Jockey Jose Lezcano and trainer Chad Brown were the humans whose equines put on the best show, together and separately, with multiple stakes wins.

Appropriately, Brown's Suburban winning Zivo took us back three decades to his mentor, Bobby Frankel, who accomplished the feat with a former claimer named Barometer. Unfortunately, I allowed my bias against betting New York Breds in open company cost me a couple of Dime Supers even if the rest of the ticket was correctly structured by using two Met Mile participants, a pair from the Stephen Foster, a handicapper’s best friend, the ALL button.

The class dropping Met Mile approach did provide a winning Sprint Championship superfecta and I enjoyed watching Clearly Now's track record performance. But the profits were short-lived when Mr. Speaker suddenly woke up to snag the Belmont Derby from Europeans Adelaide and Gailo Chop in a ground-saving good trip performance.

I chased the Superfecta brass ring once again and missed as I failed to box-up my key and money performers. Maybe by Whitney day, I will have regained my composure and try again on what promises to be a strong supporting card for what is now a $1.25 million headliner.

I give in to this temptation because real money can be won in the Super-Dime on days like these giving modest players like me a real chance. At least NYRA gives us that ability on their event days, unlike Churchill Downs which steadfastly refuses to offer Dime Supers on Derby Day.

Panza told to Jerry Bossert of the NY Daily News: "So for me it’s trying to narrow down big days and narrow down holidays and try to concentrate on those days, provide people with good experience at the track and hope that they will come back on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

'"Racing needs to reinvent itself," Panza added. "People want to see a good product and they want to be entertained. That’s the way we can do it."'

Such scheduling greatly suits weekend warriors such like me. As a recreational bettor who wants to be entertained, too, I limit my handicapping to the type of races which experience shows gives me a chance to compete for high profits on a consistent basis.

Personally, this usually precludes non-stakes events restricted to non-winners, state-breds, or races in which consistent soundness, stamina, and speed are rare. But in any case, I'm certainly not going to fight excessive takeout, short fields, and high exotic minimums.

I have to admit that watching and wagering on only those four races on the Phase II card from 3000 miles away in the comfort of my living room, simultaneously SKYPE-ing with a racing buddy on the East Coast was as good as it gets without winning. The only thing lacking was the ability to chase those supers with pooled resources that can divide tax liability with friends or in a group, many of whom are now unable to deduct gambling losses from winnings on State income tax return.

Additionally, SKYPE can provide the camaraderie common in OTBs, now absent from New York City's five boroughs. The loss of restaurant OTBs was lamented recently in HRI comments but we believe most horseplayers would rather bet like a whale than eat like one.

While opportunities for outings combining fine dining and race-betting have occasional appeal, I suspect that NYRA's future lies with those preferring to pool their resources than please their palettes. Imagine if NYRA took the lead in offering independent, pre-registered, online wagering partnerships to individuals and capitalizing on social media and other Internet interaction to grow the business.

Guess it hasn’t happened since the pols don’t know what to do about the lack of OTBs. The Governor’s people in essence are running the NYRA show but a Mayor still runs the city. Maybe this is supposed to be a chit when NYRA finally becomes privatized.

Whatever happens here, the racing industry itself should sell (lease?/comp?), service, and support reasonably-priced personal computing devices with 1) SERY-like voice-recognition and information presentation, 2) SKYPE-like simultaneous multiple account-holder communication support, 3) multiple video output connections, and 4) on-line viewing and betting wherever live racing is being conducted.

In the 21st century, it should be as easy to play a horse race as a slot machine in one's own virtual OTB parlor. I fully realize that at present I’m asking way too much.