The news from NYRA continues to arrive fast and furious, on matters both OTB and otherwise.

In the “let’s get people to bet at NYRA” category, the Association released the following news today:

Beginning next Wednesday, customers can sign up instantly for a NYRA Rewards account; members who sign up by December 31 will be eligible for double cash rewards from January 1 to March 31.

If you’re missing the atmosphere of an OTB, beginning this Sunday, the Belmont Café on the ground floor of Belmont Park will be open for simulcasting every day from 11 am until 7 pm.

“Hm,” you might be thinking. “Why are they waiting until Sunday? Why not simulcast the Saturday cards?”

Because on Saturday, the Belmont Child Care Association will be in the Belmont Café holding its holiday party for the children of the backstretch…about which NYRA also wrote today, and thanks to them for calling attention to this great event. Hundreds of children come to the party and choose, from a wide array of donations, gifts to give their family this Christmas. It’s not too late to donate – please contact me or the BCCA for more information.

The event has outgrown its Anna House, and the Belmont Café offers bigger digs; and I think that there’s something sort of delicious about serving the members of the backstretch on Saturday that on Sunday will be turned into a wagering center. Wonder if there will be any crossover in the attendees?

I was told last night (see the post below this one) by the State Racing and Wagering Board that only OTB or the Legislature could authorize NYRA to stream its own races on its own website. In today’s Daily News, Jerry Bossert suggests otherwise:

Another plan, which Hayward said “could be huge,” is to get approval from the State Racing and Wagering Board to allow streaming of its races live on the Internet.

Currently, NYRA is not allowed to do that because the state’s other regional OTBs won’t allow it, but NYRA thinks the Board will grant an exception under the circumstances.

I’m trying to get clarification on who’s got the power to make this happen. Were it to finally be possible, it would be a huge boon to NYRA’s wagering accounts, and here’s hoping that whoever can make it happen, will.

Update: Joe Mahoney at the State Racing and Wagering Board says,

The Board is reviewing NYRA’s proposals on in-home simulcasting/video streaming and other matters. Section 1003 of the New York State Racing and Pari-Mutuel law requires tracks to first obtain permission from OTBs in order to carry live video streaming. To video stream in the entire state, NYRA would have to have agreements with all of the state’s OTBs. That is how the Board interprets the law. To change that law would require legislative approval. Chairman Sabini has indicated that this Board stands ready to do whatever it can legally do to work with our stakeholders to keep the New York handle from migrating to entities outside of this state.

Bossert also writes about the possibility of racing returning to television in New York City, which would make an awful lot of people happy. I was speaking last night with a NYRA employee who talked about the senior citizens who contact him to talk about the horses, senior citizens for whom it’s hard to get out, particularly in weather like this. One wrote yesterday, mourning the loss of racing TV in this city: he liked watching the horses, and the channel kept him company. A lot of people, for a lot of reasons, are missing Channel 71 today.

Both current New Yorker Alan Mann at Left at the Gate and former New Yorker Jessica Chapel at Railbird are writing about the situation regularly and with acuity; do check them out.

13 thoughts on “NYRA News

  1. On the bright side I’m looking forward to a more productive weekend than usual w/no racing on channel 71, but let’s hope it doesn’t last too long!

  2. I am bereft without it, and I don’t even get to watch it very much!

    But I am not encouraged by the comment from the SRWB; if we have to rely on the Legislature to get races streamed, we’re doomed.

  3. Thanks for suggesting to read what Alan and Jessica are writing on this subject and I have enjoyed their comments very much. Jessica did a much better job articulating what I was trying to say earlier this week about why I will miss the gritty element of the parlors.(the “sub-culture” of OTB as she calls it) And it was nice to meet Alan last weekend at AQU.

  4. Teresa:

    It’s ridiculous that people IN NEW YORK STATE are not able to see streaming video of live races, while those of us who live outside New York and New Jersey (like I do) are able to without any problems (as long as you have Twin Spires, TVG, Etc.). I think under the circumstances the board should allow it, and if some religious group or overzealous member of OTB decides to take everyone to court on this, let them.

    As for my proposed schedule for racing in New York from the last blog: I’m basically using the Monmouth model for such a schedule, minimizing weekday racing while putting the emphasis on weekends, when handle is clearly bigger. I know 10 and 11+ race cards are foreign ground for thoroughbred bettors (and a pain in the rear end for me to do when I do Price and Probability sheets), but I also want to get the people when they are most likely to bet. The fact is, handle at Monmouth using the Friday-Sunday model only TRIPLED from where it was a year ago (when they ran 12 races most days), and that’s why the focus would be on weekends with longer cards then (as Calder has done with 12-13 race cards on most Saturdays for instance, plus for those of us who have a harness background, we are very used to 13-15 race cards being the norm as Dover Downs for instance runs SIX programs of 15 RACES per week, running every night except Friday in their instance, while Yonkers usually has 12 or 13 race programs five nights a week). A four-day week with more races on weekends and holidays (and only eight on non-holiday weekdays) to me is clearly the way to go.

  5. What an f***ing mess, I thought things sucked here in Philly until I read the details of how NY functions (or doesn’t function). Is TwinSpires.com available in NY or does the Politburo in Albany forbid that too?

  6. BrooklynSaint: Great reading, both of them.

    Walt: 11 races at Monmouth in July feels to me a LOT different from 11 races at Aqueduct in February, but I see your point. Might see it as more appealing during Belmont spring/summer meet.

    John: TwinSpires is available in NY, but there are thoughts/ideas in Albany that would make it illegal for any NYS resident to wager with an out of state ADW.

  7. If any of the politicians had a brain, they would have made it illegeal to have an out of state ADW before this happened. The money should be kept in NY to benefit NY racing interests. By the way, NJ residents aren’t allowed to have out of state ADW accounts.

  8. Teresa:

    I agree on the Belmont spring/summer meet being more appealing for the longer cards, and if it were up to me, I would likely extend the four-day-a-week schedule that I have outlined to that meet, except that other than the Friday before The Belmont, all Friday programs would be 10 races with first post at 3:00 PM. Thursday would remain eight races starting at 1:00 PM (except the Thursday before and after the Belmont Stakes, on the latter of which there would be no racing), while Saturdays and Sundays would also be at 1:00 PM with 12 races on Saturdays and 11 on Sundays EXCEPT for the weekend before the Belmont, when Saturday and Sunday would be only nine races to assure the best possible program for Belmont Stakes Day.

    Belmont Stakes week would be compressed to a three-day week as follows:

    Thursday: 10 Races with first post at 3:00 PM, with a special Belmont Stakes Handicapping Seminar following the live program that evening.

    Friday: 12 races with first post at 12:30 PM.

    Saturday (Belmont Stakes Day): 15 Races with first post at 11:00 AM, with the Belmont the 12th of 15 (assuming the 6:25 PM post remains) and the last race going off around 8:20 PM ET.

    The following week, there would be no live racing on Thursday. Also, the Belmont spring meet would end on July 9 (Saturday after the 4th), with almost two weeks off before Saratoga starts.

    For Saratoga, I would have a seven-week, 35 day meet that would be Thursday-Monday throughout in the following manner:

    Thursdays and Fridays: First post 3:00 PM, with eight races Thursdays (nine opening day) and nine on Fridays (2:30 PM post the final two Fridays).

    Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays: First post 12:30 PM, except for Travers Day, which would be 15 Races (including the New York Turf Writers’ Cup, which would be the opening race on Travers Day) with an 11:00 AM first post and the final Monday (Labor Day), which would be 13 Races with a noon first post. Saturday programs would be 13 Races, Sundays would be 12 Races, while Mondays would be nine races, including the weekly jump race to open those cards (the early post on Monday would be because that would be the “getaway day” for a lot of people).

  9. Nancy, I rather agree: I’d like to see NYS residents wager through NYS accounts. But until the State permits basics like streaming video, it’s a tough sell to bettors. They’ve got to permit a competitive product in order to keep the money in state.

    DJ: Get thee to Aqueduct!

    Walt: Historically, the twilight cards have not generated anything additional in handle while requiring more investment; they’ve been a money loser, even though people enjoy them. Personally, I’m happy to see four tentatively scheduled for next summer, and let’s just hope that the wagering dollars follow.

    I guess I just don’t share your affinity for marathon race cards, and I don’t know anyone who really likes them. In fact, most folks I know want shorter cards on most race days. And I’m talking about workers, writers, gamblers, fans. Ten feels like the limit, except for the occasional big stakes day of 11 or 12; 8 is ideal. I can’t imagine 15 races in one day.

  10. Teresa:

    Like I said, a lot of us who come in with a harness background are used to 12-13 races on normal race days/nights and as many as 15 at some tracks (Yonkers for instance often cards 12-13 races while for a long time, 13 was the norm on Saturday nights at The Meadowlands, with 14 races on some Saturdays). The longer cards are a pain for me to do up the Price and Probability sheets (whether for clients or free on the site) when I have such a card, but the fact is, weekend wagering is far higher than weekday wagering, and the 12-13 race cards at Monmouth this past summer showed that people would rather have long cards with big fields on the weekends than what we have had for years.

    As for twilight racing, those cards are important because they do bring out younger patrons who are important to the future of the sport. In the case of Saratoga, the Thursday and Friday twilight cards as I would do them would be so people have more time to get upstate for a four or five-day weekend (as the week would be Thursday-Monday in my format), with Thursday cards for instance actually only ending about 30-40 minutes later than they normally do at present for 10-race cards with a normal 1:00 PM post time (as such cards would be eight races). There also is the consideration of the west coast, as a 3:00 PM start here translates to noon in Vegas and California, and I suspect with a noon start out west, we’d see more wagering on Saratoga on Thursdays and Fridays from those outlets (in addition, at least on Thursdays it would shorten the total time for both Saratoga and Del Mar since Del Mar has a 5:00 PM ET/2:00 PM local first post, except on Fridays when first post is 90 minutes or two hours later).

  11. I think the 20 minute time between harness races makes those extended cards more tolerable, Walt. They should probably shorten the time between races at the flats anyway. Do we really need 30-35 minutes?

  12. In response to an editorial today in The Saratogian, someone posted the following superb comment. The video (see link) reminded me of why I’ll wait for Belmont….

    Anybody or board seeking a “solution” had better start with a full understanding of the PROBLEM.
    For starters, do not confuse “The Saratoga Experience” with the reality that exists beyond earshot of Sam the Bugler.
    Salvation in a BUS to Aqueduct?
    Summon up your memory of any random day at any Saratoga Meet… and compare it with three minutes of the spot-on reality that is “The Big A”—


    No comment is so eloquent as-
    “It’s a New York that no longer exists.”
    We had ALL better begin with a sense of urgency where I see too much complacency. There is more trouble ahead than partisan posturing.
    A bus to nowhere is no solution.

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