In New York, we wait…and wait…

Like those poor refugees in Casablanca, here in New York, we continue to wait…and wait…and wait. We wait for Governor Cuomo’s announcement about the reconfiguration of the NYRA board, the board that will be made up mostly of the governor’s appointees, the board that will graciously allow a horsemen’s representative to attend board meetings but not to vote, and we wait for the release of the Aqueduct breakdown report.

Saratoga ended two and a half weeks ago, so I guess that Fred Dicker’s jubilant, anonymous source for his New York Post article in July has a different definition of “promptly” than I do.

As does, I guess, everyone associated with the task force report on the Aqueduct breakdowns, originally slated to be completed by the end of April, then pushed back to May, then to… “no release date available,” and then delayed several more times before supposedly being delivered to Governor Cuomo’s desk a couple of weeks ago, where, I guess, it’s been sitting, waiting for the governor to decide when he’d like to share it. As Alan Mann at Left at the Gate observes, the report is “expected” to be released this week (says the Times Union), but we’ve heard that before.

In a letter sent to then-NYRA president Charles Hayward by the governor’s office on March 14, Bennett Liebman, Cuomo’s deputy secretary for gaming, and Robert Megna, direction of the New York State division of the budget (and chairman of the Franchise Oversight Board) wrote, “…we need to develop procedures now [emphasis mine] that work for the horses, riders, and the racing public in New York.”

I guess it depends on what the meaning of “now” is.

One person not waiting to see how things shake out here in New York is Dan Silver, NYRA’s about-to-be-erstwhile director of communications, who will become Penn National’s director of racing operations next month. Dan hired me to contribute to the Belmont Stakes blog, to write for the Belmont and Travers Stakes programs, and to help out with notes on occasion. It’s been a pleasure to work with him, and Penn National’s gain is New York racing’s loss. Best, best of luck to him, not that he’ll need it.

We learned yesterday, via a release from trainer Rick Violette, that promising two-year-old Spurious Precision, winner of the Saratoga Special, was euthanized Tuesday morning after a training accident on Monday. At the time of the release, the colt’s death was not listed in the New York State Racing and Wagering Board’s database, though it was added not long after the release came out.

As of this morning, Live for Today, pulled up at Saratoga in the Albany Stakes on August 22, is listed as a racing injury; according to one of his owners, the three-year-old Mineshaft colt was euthanized within days of the accident.

The Board did not respond to a recent inquiry about the status of the investigation into the early closing of mutuels at Saratoga on August 13, nearly five weeks ago. The Daily Racing Form reported that day that the Racing and Wagering Board steward inadvertently stopped the betting with several minutes to post because he saw the break of another race on television and thought that it was Saratoga.

In the five weeks since the incident, the Board has been silent. No release, no comment, no explanation, no follow-up.  One wonders what the reaction might have been had the steward responsible been the one for NYRA.

In 2009, the Belmont placing judges posted an incorrect official order of finish; people who had bet the posted superfecta got paid, as did those who bet the horses that actually finished in the top four places.

Within a week of the incident, NYRA announced that the three placing judges would be suspended for one week without pay. In the Form, P.J. Campo, NYRA’s vice president and director of racing, characterized the error as both “honest” and “costly,” two adjectives that surely apply to the August incident as well.






6 thoughts on “In New York, we wait…and wait…

  1. The delays in the reports and other matters may be because of people “above” Cuomo:

    It may very well be that national Democratic Party leaders may be telling Cuomo to be very careful on how to proceed with NYRA as it’s no secret Cuomo has aspirations of running for President in 2016, with the Party’s concern if so on not doing anything that might upset breeders in particular in Florida (since Florida breds make up a considerable number of the horses who race at NYRA tracks). It’s a seemingly minor-to-nonexistent issue in the rest of the country that is exactly the kind of issue if we have a repeat of 2000 that could cost Cuomo (if he became the Democratic nominee in 2016) Florida and the Democrats the White House if Cuomo moves the wrong way. It’s how it’s going to have to be for the next three years or so in my view if Cuomo indeed wants to run for President.

  2. Let’s all sit tight and I think it will all come out in one big dose on or around October 1st. As I’ve mentioned in various outlets, I’m always surprised that Andrew does not get the fact this is an agribusiness and address the situation from that POV. As far as the NYRA posts go, we know the Board will be full of non-horsemen as they feel anyone with involvement would be a conflict. I think the exception to this will be short order cook Bobby Flay. The other issue that Andrew must be having is that these are State jobs, and pay only a fraction of what they would pay if this was non Gov’t run like Magna or CDI. That makes it hard to recruit. The pay scale was part of one of the State’s inquisitions on Charlie. +$400k is a huge amount for a State job, but CDI would pay the same person close to $4MM.

    I also think the rank and file at NYRA are going to be fine. I can certainly understand why they may be not be sleeping all that well worrying about their jobs, so hopefully they get this behind them, and soon. Look for the State to impose a No Wagering while on duty rule. This will apply from the tellers to the on-air touts. Albany has been surprised to learn the staff bets while on duty and thinks it is improper. And separately look for the State to report back on the findings that resulted in Charlie’s firing. Charlie wants to be able to walk into a NYRA track and see his old and dear friends. I for one hope this report clears up his good name and he can return with the pride and dignity he deserves.

  3. Brooklyn Saint:

    That may seem logical, but I can see where national Democratic party leaders, having to think ahead to 2016 (and even more so if Romney is elected President in November) could very well be telling Cuomo to tread very carefully with NYRA and if so have made it clear that anything has to be run by them because of concerns any appointments could come back to haunt Cuomo come 2016 if he indeed does run for President. The last thing they want is a seemingly minor-to-nonexistent issue like NYRA winding up teeing off breeders in Florida, with that issue in a general election winding up being one that decides the race if we have a repeat of 2000. The Dems all remember 2000 and likely know they have to think of these possibilities for ANY candidate who has intentions to run in 2016.

  4. Don’t forget. Cuomo’s already bearing the cross of corrupt political cronyism because of his failure to indite, impreach, prosecute, and punish “his corrupt friends”, who were involved in the Aqueduct Entertainment Group bid-rigging casino scam, some of whom are now implicated in the Vito Lopez sexual harassment payoff fiasco. Can anyone not think government and dysfunctional politicians doing what they do best? Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!

  5. Teresa good article, at least you have what it takes to call the Governor out on his balant take over of a private organization NYRA just becaused he wants the Racino money for his over spending croonies in ALBANY. He cares nothing about the game we all love just like his father did. You had the honesty to disclose that u were hired by NYRA’S Dan Silver to write articles for NYRA not like the schill Fred Dicker who is writing the biography on the Governor and is the Albany leaker. The soon to be firing of Ellen McClain a women of color can not fare well for a man who is looking for the 2016 Democratic top spot.

  6. I was not even thinking of the issue with Ellen McCain. Cuomo may be
    “forced” to keep her whether he wants her out or not to protect his bid for President in 2016.

    That bid is the one thing that may prevent Cuomo from going overboard since I suspect he along with every other potential candidate (except for Hillary) is going to be heavily scrutinized by the national Democratic Party leaders. The Democratic Party knows regardless of what happens this November, 2016 is going to be a completely different animal and they know full well that a minuscule issue (to most of the country and those outside racing) like what Cuomo may be looking to do with NYRA could wind up being something that if we have a repeat of 2000 could actually wind up being the deciding issue, much like Elian Gonzalez was (in the eyes of many people) in the state of Florida, which Bush won by just over 500 votes, largely because of Cuban-Americans voting for Bush after Clinton did not intervene to their satisfaction, costing Al Gore the White House then.

    Florida could play a role like that again in 2016 if Cuomo wound up the Democratic nominee because of how big the breeding industry is there, and the large number of Florida Breds who race at NYRA tracks. In this case, if Cuomo does the wrong thing with NYRA and it indirectly harms the Florida breeders, they could turn around in 2016 and if everything else breaks like it did in 2000 could be the ones who cost Cuomo the White House. That’s why I feel except for Hillary, ALL of the potential Democratic candidates for President are going to be watched and scrutinized very carefully by the party leaders over the next three-plus years, meaning Cuomo may have to be a lot more careful with how he handles this issue in case he did win the nominee and it wound up being the issue (no matter how small it may seem elsewhere) that in an extremely close race did decide Florida and the Presidential election.

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