Just over 2 years ago (May 18, 2010) we wrote a blog “Saratoga Is Saved!”, in which we reported the disarray of the NYRA at the time. Threats that Saratoga wouldn’t open and that horse racing in New York would come crashing down in bankruptcy courts. Along came Gov. David Patterson to announce that Saratoga Race Course would indeed open and the NYRA would be reorganized.
Then in December of the same year we wrote a tongue in cheek piece “The Top 10 Reasons the NY OTB Parlors Went Under” as NY closed the doors for good throughout the city and surrounding area.
It looked like NY racing was officially on life support and ready to pass on to greener pastures in the sky forever. But fast forward to today and we now see a shining racing association on a hill. Breeders and trainers hauling their horses by the trailer loads north from Kentucky and Virginia into the Empire State. The best jockeys in the country have moved their tack to Belmont for the summer and most will be going on to Saratoga soon.
Jockey of the Year last couple of years Ramon Dominguez now finds greats like John Velazquez, Julien Leparoux, Rosie Napravnik, Javier Castellano, Jose Lezcano and new arrival West Coast leader Joel Rosario. And that is a who’s who of riders all competing for the big purse money of the “Big Apple”.
About a year ago in response to the state’s yanking on NYRA’s purse strings by withholding casino revenue, NYRA gave in to the demands of the new Governor Andrew Cuomo and agreed to a reorganization that will give the state the ability to redefine the not-for-profit corporation.
The establishment of the NYRA Reorganization Board which for the next three years will control racing in New York through a board dominated by public appointees. The new 17-person board will feature seven members named by Cuomo, two by the New York Senate and Assembly and five more will be selected by NYRA. Breeders and horsemen will be given an ex officio member, while the chairperson, who must be approved by the board, will be nominated by Cuomo.
So far it’s working and NYRA is thriving but time will tell and as small hitches come up along the way we will see how they adapt and tweak this new organization. One state that should be watching closer than anyone is Kentucky, “the heartland of horse racing”. It seems they are now the ones that have lost their way.