At two opening week appearances, NYRA executives presented a rosy picture of New York racing over the last year. CEO and president Chris Kay and senior vice president of racing operations Martin Panza met with the media last Wednesday afternoon and with the public last Wednesday evening at the annual meet preview hosted by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
Kay noted three organizational priorities: to enhance the guest experience onsite and online; to improve the quality of racing; and to create a business plan that is sustainable as part of NYRA’s reorganization efforts, looking ahead to when state control of the tracks will end next year.
He pointed to the successes of the last year, including a record-setting Belmont Stakes day (without mention of the logistical and hospitality issues that marred the day for so many); the inaugural, international Stars and Stripes Day racing program at Belmont in early July; the move from years of budget deficits to an expected budget surplus in 2014; and the popularity of this year’s season passes, of which, Kay said, more than 4,600 had been purchased before the meet began, representing a 230% increase over last year. On Monday, NYRA announced that the $50 clubhouse passes had sold out.
It’s early—we are just four days into this year’s meet—but opening weekend provided plenty of reasons for encouragement. Attendance on Friday and Saturday was up 16% over the same days last year (Sunday’s attendance was up, too, but unreliable because of the number of repeat giveaway admissions).
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