Mark's Column 2

markinsacmarkinsac Member
edited March 2014 in General Interest
TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY: NY TIMES MANGLED HORSES, MAIMED JOCKEYS

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/us/death-and-disarray-at-americas-racetracks.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Many in the industry howled at this article. Some of the facts were wrong, but the majority--including the most grotesque--were right. Despite the controversy, many important changes have taken place. The biggest culprit in the article, the New Mexico Racing Commission, has grown claws. They have started banning offending trainers and have increased testing.

All across the country, commissions and racing associations are now treating the issue much more seriously. Some have realized that breakdowns and illegal drugs are bad for business. So they have gone from looking the other way to staring right at it.

Regardless of what you think of this article, it certainly was a game changer.

And Mary, R. D. Hubbard's name was in it. I believe he is involved with Ruidoso Downs. Go get him Mary, prove me a liar!

More from R. D. Hubbard:

http://www.drf.com/news/ruidoso-ban-major-medication-violators

In my written exchanges with R.D. Hubbard a few decades ago, he proved to me that he understood the bettors. Mr. Hubbard also believed in alternative gambling to increase company profits. He is a horse owner and New Mexico is a good fit for him because horse racing is big there. If you look at the date of the above DRF article, it's six months after the NY Times article. He is reacting as a horse lover and as a businessman.

The only contact on Ruidoso's website: info@raceruidoso.com
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Comments

  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    SHARED BELIEF OFF DERBY TRAIL . . .

    Probably no trainer and no jockey have dominated a circuit as much as Jerry Hollendorfer and Russell Baze have in northern California. Hollendorfer set records for wins over and over again. He outgrew the circuit and moved to southern California with bigger purses and bigger owners.

    Yet there's another record Jerry probably doesn't want to discuss. Hollendorfer is a regular offender of drug policy. He has dozens of violations, but many in the press refuse to talk about it.

    Last year Shared Belief won the Eclipse Award for Top 2 Year Old. He did it without participating in the Breeders' Cup. Now we find out Shared Belief will not be in the Run For The Roses:

    http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/83811/shared-belief-confirmed-off-ky-derby-trail

    While there is no evidence of drugs being involved in Shared Belief's races, this follows a pattern of brilliant horse getting injured . . .



    Take a look at Blind Luck's Hollywood Starlet run. Notice how track announcer Vic Stauffer's words mimick's what he said about Shared Belief:



    Big Brown 2008 'Derby:



    It was later revealed BB had steroids. But Shared Belief and Blind Luck's runs look eerily similar to Big Brown's. And so did Vic Stauffer's calls . . .

    Betting on horses is fueled by past performances. Trainers have past performances too.

    Just speculation.
  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    WHAT IS INSTANT RACING?

    While slot machines flourish across the country, instant racing machines are not far behind. Here is a brief description of IR:



    Instant Racing machines are featured at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. But is IR too much like a slot machine:

    http://www.ktvb.com/news/Controversy-arises-over-proposed-horse-racing-machines-250258431.html

    There's not a wealth of information about Instant Racing machines. I know personally slot players will not like the "pie chart" handicapping tools provided, as they slow down the action. But a horse player may investigate the info.

    If anybody out there has actually played these machines, please tell us your thoughts . . .
  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    INVIGORATING OAKLAWN PARK . . .

    As old man winter packs his bags, things are heating up at the country's premier Winter/Spring track, Oaklawn Park. OP is the leader in attendance this time of year. And within the next two months, expect some big races with top talent to arrive:



    Oaklawn Park's racing website:

    http://oaklawn.com/racing/

    A blast from the past, 2010 Apple Blossom:

  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    TRACKS I WISH WEREN'T ON THIS LIST:

    I mentioned all the track I had visited. But what about the tracks I have not visited? Which ones do I want to go to the most?:

    MEADOWLANDS HARNESS, Hopefully a look into the future of racing grandstands
    OAKLAWN, Apple Blossom, Arkansas Derby weekend
    KEENELAND, Horse racing and beautiful breeding farms to boot
    SARATOGA, Any day
    ARLINGTON PARK, Arlington Million Day plus The Beverly D
    BELTERRA PARK, A racino done right?
    TIMONIUM, The only fair east of the Mississippi
    HIALEAH PARK, Beautiful grandstand, plus I like Quarter Horse racing
    FAIR GROUNDS, Mardi Gras would be a nice time to be there
    CHURCHILL DOWNS, OK, I'd like to visit the 'Derby just once
    CALDER, I'd like to go there in the heat of August, just to see what it's like to be in the elements.

    What's your list?
  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014

    EXCITING RACING IN MAURITIUS . . .

    Mauritius is a small Island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mauritius

    It has an interesting horse track:

    http://gvpedia.com/Countries/Mauritius/Travel-Lifestyle/Leisure-Events/Mauritius-Turf-Club.aspx

    Take a look at these races run on the island:


  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    WHAT CLIFF GOODRICH DID FOR SANTA ANITA . . .

    In an article I believe dated around 1997, Cliff Goodrich brags about all he's done for Santa Anita:

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/HORSE+RACING+:+RENOVATION+REVELATIONS;+ARCHITECTURAL+DIGEST+SHOULD...-a083879210

    Paint, pipes and hot water . . .

    Now let's see what has happened to Santa Anita since Goodrich LEFT:

    Santa Anita's apron had a complete makeover with decorative railings and potted plants.

    Santa Anita added a themed elevator building, with SA's famous architecture.

    Frontrunner's restaurant was built on the roof.

    A big bar and music stage overlooks the paddock area in the grandstand along with a football-only viewing area of TV's.

    The Clubhouse, Turf Club and box-seat areas have been thoroughly modernized along with three new luxury boxes.

    An infield big screen shows the action . . .





    Yeah, Cliff, you are awesome . . . how much did they pay you to be President?

  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    LOS ANGELES' FIRST RACE TRACK . . .

    Just south of the USC campus was the location of a race track named Agricultural Park. It was designed as a fairground for farmers. Soon racing and other exhibitions took place. The park was just outside of L.A.'s city limits so there was an anything-goes attitude:

    http://www.kcet.org/updaily/socal_focus/history/la-as-subject/from-agricultural-park-to-exposition-park.html

    http://www.publicartinla.com/Expopark/agripark2.html

    When the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was being built in the 1920's, this picture shows the faint outline of the race track running around the coliseum:

    http://img.readtiger.com/wkp/en/LAColiseum-under-construction-1922.jpg

    Horse racing wouldn't return to south Los Angeles until Hollywood Park was built in 1938.
  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    ARCADIA HORSE RACING HISTORY . . .

    After the closing of Agricultural Park, racing was next conceived in the fertile San Gabriel Valley. Here is what the valley looked like in 1893 around the town of San Gabriel. Notice the Spanish Mission built a century before and notice all the abundant groves of fruit trees:

    http://www.bigmapblog.com/2011/birdseye-view-of-san-gabriel-california/

    Hard to believe, but at this time, L.A. County was the country's number one agricultural county.

    About six miles to the east was the townsite of Arcadia. Here was the home of the Lucky Baldwin empire. Agriculture, commerce and horses were the main focus of this man, known as a gambler:

    http://laist.com/2008/10/04/laistory_lucky_baldwin.php

    (note: The L.A. Arboretum is located on Baldwin Avenue, across the street from Santa Anita)

    This is a newspaper clip from the L.A. Herald dated December 5, 1907, just a couple days before the opening of Baldwin's Santa Anita:

    http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042462/1907-12-05/ed-1/seq-8/

    Zoom in and read the article on Santa Anita's opening, plus check out the horse race charts from a track in Oakland. Yes in those days they had charts from out of town, also check out the picks from a track in New Orleans, Fair Grounds probably . . .

    The track was very successful from the beginning. There were no professional sports at the time and getting around by train was the mode of transportation. The article says it took only 35 minutes to get from downtown to Arcadia, which is faster than today.

    More pics from the Lucky Baldwin era:



    http://berkeleyheritage.com/eastbay_then-now/baldwin.html

    http://www.legendsofamerica.com/photos-california/SantaAnitaRacetrack.jpg

    On this site, scroll down to Ross Field/Arcadia . . . , it's near the bottom. There are pictures of a balloon school with the old race track in the background:

    http://www.airfields-freeman.com/CA/Airfields_CA_LA_E.htm

    Baldwin's Santa Anita would only last two years, closing in 1909. There was a fervor to end the unmoral prospect of gambling on horses. And Arcadia would be without it's famous attraction until Christmas Day, 1934 when the present-day Santa Anita would open her gates. In the midst of a depression, states started legalizing horse racing to increase revenue, much like states are allowing casino gambling today.

    http://www.cardcow.com/408260/paddock-at-santa-anita-los-angeles-turf-club-arcadia-california/

    1940 Santa Anita Handicap:



    Santa Anita was located on Route 66 and enjoyed immediate success. By 1979 it would be the nation's leader in attendance and betting handle. Later it would be the home of the Breeders' Cup.

    notes: Baldwin's Santa Anita was located in present-day Arcadia County Park, a couple of furlongs from Santa Anita. The old Route 66 followed Huntington Drive through downtown Arcadia then went right up Colorado Place which is by Santa Anita's infield parking lot on the north side of the property. Colorado Place will take you to Pasadena. Also during the 1950's and 1960's, Santa Anita hosted harness meets every other year, alternating with Hollywood Park. In 1969, when harness went exclusively to Hollywood Park, the thoroughbred horsemen formed the Oak Tree racing association to counter that move. Oak Tree would exist until 2010.

  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    30,000 FANS ON 'REBEL' DAY . . .

    Hopportunity shipped in from Fair Grounds and took Oaklawn's $600,000 Rebel Stakes. It drew a large crowd of 30,000 and a betting handle of over $9 million, showing that Oaklawn's marketing scheme is alive and well.

    Congratulations.
  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    CHARLES HAYWARD: TIME TO STOP HOPING FOR A US RACING COMMISSIONER . . .

    Mr. Hayward is the former president of NYRA. He comes up with an unfortunately salient point: It just can't be done because of racing's tangled web of different associations and states.

    http://thoroughbredracing.com/commentary/time-stop-hoping-us-racing-commissioner

    But there's no reason that racing can't join together on a national marketing scheme. If you want to join, join, if not, don't join. My comments on a national newbie day where one video and presentation would make it cost effective.
  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    BELEAGURED TURFWAY TRIES SOMETHING NEW: TREAT A CUSTOMER LIKE A CUSTOMER

    Instead of labeling the people it seeks business from "Haters," Turfway Park in Florence, KY has decided to go after them by listening and making them feel at home. They even admit they learned something from the way a local casino treats it's patrons:

    http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/local/northern-ky/amanda-van-benschoten/2014/03/15/avb-turfway-needs-get-back-track/6475521/

    Did you notice how non-slots tracks use the word 'racing customer' in some of their press releases? When was the last time you heard Parx or Calder mutter that word?

    Turfway really is trying! Give them a look . . .
  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    TOP CUSTOMER SERVICE TRACKS . . .

    I've never been to most of these tracks. My opinion is based on news articles and press releases:

    1. MEADOWLAND HARNESS, building a new $90 million facility without any slot money is a testament to the customer. The facility has plenty of goodies to keep patrons engaged.

    2. KEENELAND, with assistants roaming around the grounds helping naïve customers place their bets, maybe even help them pick a winner.

    3. OAKLAWN, some of racing's loyal fans keep coming back. There's instant racing machines here, but that doesn't matter. During racing season, it's all about racing.

    4. SARATOGA, has moved up just because I seen that video with those employees wearing a "May I help you?" apron.

    5. TURFWAY, perhaps no track has tried to change it's persona more than Turfway who has decided to try to fight for the customer. Good luck Turfway.

    To your racing executives, put yourselves in a customer's shoes. You walk through the gates but don't know a lick about horse racing. Help me!

  • WEST VIRGINIA CUTS SUBSIDY 10% . . .

    http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/83848/wv-racing-breeding-take-10-revenue-hit

    This is actually good news. Maybe we'll start hearing some press releases from Charles Town and Chester on customer development . . .
  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    NOW THAT HOLLYWOOD PARK IS CLOSED, WHERE WILL THEY FILM THE ZENYATTA MOVIE?

    To a racing purist, Seabiscuit and War Admiral's match race was great, except for the background. I immediately knew they were actually at Keeneland, not Pimlico. And Keeneland's turf course railing (something that didn't exist at any track back in the day) was bothersome too. At least they didn't have Seabiscuit--who went wire to wire--come back from a 20-length deficit.

    Many of the scenes could be filmed at Santa Anita since she actually won her biggest race there. But certainly they have to show some of her dramatic Hollywood Park finishes too. One track that looks similar to HP is Golden Gate Fields. GGF is a busy track, open most of the year, but there's a brief summer break for the northern Cali fairs.

    Or, I'm hoping, they use actual footage from her races. I don't know how that works out. But Hollywood Park has yet to be demolished. Maybe, just maybe there's time to do it now? I would think being able to film less than 10 miles from your studio has it's advantages . . .
  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    DECOUPLING OF THE RACING AND CASINO INDUSTRY MAKES FLORIDA THE PARTLY CLOUDY STATE . . .

    More news of the dismantling of the slot subsidies now trickles down to the Sunshine State. It's spreading like a wildfire:

    http://touch.sun-sentinel.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-79581905/

    What's interesting, politicians in Kentucky are debating further gaming there. For them, it must be like planning their own bank robbery . . .

  • THE COST OF REGULATION . . .

    With slot subsidies under attack, how will racing survive? Nearly all slots states have put nil towards a marketing scheme that will ensure customers after the well runs dry. And with trainers finding more and more undetectable drugs to use, the cost of chasing them down is complicated and costly.

    I believe that racetracks have only one choice: BAN THEM. At a time when the tracks are going to become leaner, meaner and leaner is more in order. Just last week, Cal Expo Harness banned a trainer for taking a dead horse off the grounds. In Pennsylvania, a state that has garnished perhaps the more slot money than any other, there's no money for a racing commission.

    There just isn't enough money going around. In fact, there's a lot less.
  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    BEST RACING AND SHOPPING VENUES . . .

    Since horse racing customers are generally middle-aged men and cash-strapped, I'm not sure how easy it is to sell them high-end clothing. Maybe a fancy meal after a good day at the races is more in order:

    THE VILLAGE AT GULFSTREAM PARK, A touch of class, maybe too classy? Plus outdoor cafe's in Florida's heat? Nonetheless, this is the place to be if you have some expendable cash or a shopaholic in the family. Positive: You can walk right over from the racetrack. Negative: It's not too big. Or maybe that should be a positive . . .

    http://www.thevillageatgulfstreampark.com/

    http://youmustgo.com.br/the-village-no-parque-gulfstream/

    WESTFIELD MALL SANTA ANITA, This is a suburban mall that does quite well despite not being located by a freeway offramp. It's located right next door to Santa Anita and features a bit upscale faire to match the neighborhood:

    http://www.westfield.com/santaanita/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/us-fa/4308490858/

    SARATOGA SPRINGS DOWNTOWN, everything you could possibly want is downtown:

    http://www.saratogadowntown.com/saratoga-springs-ny-shopping.asp

    http://activerain.com/blogsview/1643675/downtown-saratoga-springs-guide-to-shopping-saratoga-ny

    HOT SPRINGS SHOPPING, OAKLAWN PARK, This funky southern town is fun. Lots of things to do here:

    http://www.hotspringsshopping.com/

    http://livability.com/hot-springs/ar/photos-video
  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    THINK TAKEOUT DOESN'T MATTER?

    Local Sacramento casino, Cache Creek, faces fierce completion from a newly opened casino near Santa Rosa. So what did they do? They lowered the house take to 5%:

    http://www.cachecreek.com/

    They are the new "Penny Pay Zone" with over 100 machines set at 95% payback.

    TRANSLATION: THEY ARE COMPETING.
  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    THE RENOVATION OF KYLE FIELD, TEXAS A&M . . .

    Just to show how new digs can transform a program, watch this exciting video of what they're doing to their football stadium:



    Horse racing grandstands need these kinds of transformations.
  • markinsacmarkinsac Member
    edited March 2014
    HORSE RACING IN NEW YORK: A HISTORY . . .

    SARATOGA-1864
    JEROME PARK-1866
    BRIGHTON BEACH-1879
    SHEEPSHEAD BAY-1884
    GRAVESEND-1885
    MORRIS PARK-1889
    AQUEDUCT-1894
    BELMONT-1905
    JAMAICA-1909

    Read more:

    http://horseracing.about.com/library/blnytracks.htm

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-YORK-JOCKEY-CLUB-GRANDSTAND-AND-RACE-TRACK-HORSES-SADDLE-TRACK-PREPARED-/360520960439

    http://www.historynyc.com/proddetail.asp?prod=419696

    http://www.digplanet.com/wiki/Gravesend_Race_Track



    Great read, notice the stands on the roof of Gravesend:

    http://colinsghost.org/2010/04/new-york-racing-1905.html

    I wonder if they allowed bridge jumpers to sit up there?

    The greatest race ever in New York, perhaps ever in the world?:




    FINGER LAKES:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finger_Lakes_Gaming_and_Race_Track

    http://www.cardcow.com/29533/finger-lakes-racetrack-canandaigua-new-york/


    HARNESS:

    YONKERS-1899

    http://oddsonracing.com/docs/HistoricalChicagoTracksandhorses.cfm


    ROOSEVELT-1940

    http://www.oldlongisland.com/2009/06/roosevelt-raceway.html


    TIOGA DOWNS-1976

    http://tiogadowns.blogspot.com/2013/07/tioga-downs-racing-welcomes-record.html


    VERNON DOWNS-1953

    http://www.vernondowns.com/racing/history.php


    BATAVIA-1940




    SARATOGA HARNESS-1941

    http://saratogacasino.com/images/23_large.jpg


    BUFFALO RACEWAY-1942




    NEW YORK STATE FAIR, SYRACUSE-??

    http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nyononda/PHOTOS/harnessracing.jpg


    QUARTER HORSES:

    TIOGA DOWNS-1976


    Other photos:

    Summersault '74, Roosevelt Raceway concert:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/roosevelt_raceway/3103150649/


    Aqueduct Casino:

    http://0.tqn.com/d/queens/1/0/d/P/aqueduct_casino.JPG


    Horses running the wrong way at old Belmont:

    http://www.cardcow.com/197231/belmont-park-race-track-long-island-ny-sports-horse-racing/


    Present day Saratoga:

    http://www.bizjournals.com/albany/morning_call/2013/06/saratoga-race-course-has-a-new-boss.html?s=image_gallery


    Yonkers' grandstand:

    http://www.waymarking.com/gallery/image.aspx?f=1&guid=22c21d00-4837-43d6-b4cd-90f63401715a&gid=3


    While New York has a storied history, NYRA doesn't have a storied history of taking care of it's facilities. Hopefully, they are in the process of changing direction:

    http://www.nyra.com/saratoga/information/capital-improvements/

    Best of luck to Saratoga and the rest of NYRA.




  • STEVE HASKIN'S DERBY DOZEN

    One of the few Derby blogs that I read is Steve Haskin's at Bloodhorse. He gives many details about the horses are shaping up:

    http://cs.bloodhorse.com/blogs/kentucky-derby-dozen/archive/2014/03/17/derby-dozen-march-17-2014-presented-by-shadwell-farm.aspx

  • CHURCHILL CLOWNS THROWS FAIR GROUNDS UNDER THE BUS, BUT WHAT ELSE IS NEW?

    After allowing Hollywood Park to whither away; after letting Calder go head-to-head with Gulfstream; after putting nothing into Arlington Park, CDI seems intent on destroying one of America's most historic tracks. And you know what? They really don't care what you think.

    Hollywood Park was sold to a real estate company. With her passing, many horse racing enthusiasts in the west side of Los Angeles no longer have a track to go to. Some already have just given up. That hurts the entire industry.

    CDI invested in Calder Race Course, lobbying for slot machines. The slots came, the improvements to the grandstand and the backstretch didn't. Too costly. Now Calder is in a year-long battle with Gulfstream. Even Hialeah Park is getting into the picture. Watching "The Osbournes" was easier to follow. Calder cards 4-, 5- and 6-horse fields that turn bettors off.

    Arlington Park is another jewel of American racing. But if the slots don't arrive soon, expect CDI to continue to starve the racing operation there.

    And now this from the Times-Picayune:

    http://www.nola.com/horseracing/index.ssf/2014/03/post_9.html

    But I've been saying that all along.

    Unfortunately, CDI owns the biggest horse racing event in the world. And when fans come through the gates the first Saturday in May, CDI turns them upside down and shakes them.

    But even the horsemen get the shaft. Betting on the Derby Presented by Yum Brands reaches over $110 million annually. If that much is bet, the purse of the race should be $5 million. Actually it should be even more because race tracks fund stakes races out of their profits.

    Churchill offers $2 million.

    And Churchill wants no part of the Breeders' Cup. The profit margin is too slim.

    When are we going to wake up collectively and start boycotting CDI? Haven't they done enough damage already?

    No they haven't. CDI wants to get the rights for online gaming, That means slot machines on your computer. Maybe CDI can incorporate them into Twin Spires dot com, their online horse racing website. Then they can have an online racino where more and more horse players can say good-bye to the ponies.

    BTW, CDI broke another record last year for profits.

    The time is now for a serious discussion on what CDI means to the racing industry. The Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands is a sacred tradition. But nothing lasts forever.

  • DOES HORSE RACING EVEN MATTER ANY MORE?

    In another Florida fiasco, Gulfstream Park tried to hitch up with Genting, the operators of Aqueduct Casino. As if south Florida doesn't have enough slot machines already?

    Read from the Paulick Report:

    http://www.paulickreport.com/news/the-biz/florida-regulators-block-casino-deal-between-gulfstream-genting/

    Maybe instead of having horses run around a race track, they should stick them to reels and spin them.

  • BREEDERS AND BETTORS AREN'T TOO CONCERNED WITH THE OTHER'S ISSUES, YET THEY
    ARE SO INTERTWINED . . .

    If you asked someone working in the breeding industry how to save racing, a common response would be, "Give higher breeders incentives and awards." If you asked a bettor how to save racing, they might say, "Lower the takeout!"

    Both answers make sense. Breeders make money when people bet on horse races. Bettors get their kicks when they have horses to bet on. When bettors bet less, breeders suffer. When breeders breed less, bettors suffer with short fields.

    Of course, owners are the middlemen and women. It's been said that over 90% of owners lose money in the game. Bettors' losing percentage is probably much higher.

    Personally, I don't pay much attention to breeding news, except for Zenyatta. And I doubt breeders care what the pick-5 paid.

    But Michael Vietch makes a point about just how much horses of the current generation get hurt so often. This didn't happen back in the golden decade when 2-year-old champions became 3-year-old champions:

    http://www.saratogian.com/sports/20140315/veitch-column-shared-belief-to-miss-kentucky-derby


  • CHARLES TOWN HORSEMEN ISSUE RIDICULOUS THREAT

    Not happy with a slots subsidy cut, Charles Town horsemen threatened to take the ball and go home:

    http://wvmetronews.com/2014/03/18/charles-town-horsemen-issue-self-destructive-threat/

    Instead of acting graciously for something that was given to you out of thin air, horsemen act like it's an entitlement program.
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