- No racing at Saratoga on Tuesdays. I seem to remember a year that they tried seven day racing there. (I also, unfortunately, am old enough to remember when Sunday was the dark day.) But I find that as time goes on, I start to doubt the reality of my memories and wonder whether they were dreams. For example, I distinctly recall a time, it must have been in the mid/late 70s, that NYRA had this brilliant idea that people would travel by subway to Ozone Park in the middle of the summer to see live music and racing at the Big A. So come July, racing actually moved back to Aqueduct for four weeks until the four week Saratoga meet started, and they built a grassy backyard area with a concert stage to host the music. Does anyone else remember this? I’ve mentioned this on a couple of occasions to people my age who should remember, and they say, no, you’re mistaken, you’re thinking of the years when Belmont was being rebuilt.
The thing is, I wasn’t into racing when Belmont was being rebuilt - I don’t really recall anything about it being renovated and reopening. So I think that Aqueduct in July really happened, as did the 7-day racing at Saratoga. The time that they had naked dancers roaming around the Belmont grandstand must have been a dream.
But Tuesday was quite a day for NYRA and in fact, the sun may be shining a bit brighter for the embattled organization when racing resumes.. Our friends at Albany Law School conducted their 5th annual Saratoga Institute conference. One of the speakers was Neil Getnick, the federal monitor who has been overseeing NYRA’s attemps to avoid prosecution, and according to this report on the Bloodhorse site, he strongly indicated that his report would be favorable.
Getnick, appointed in March 2004 to keep an eye on NYRA for prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn, told reporters after his speech NYRA "has taken the opportunity since then to go about repairing itself and really has paid close attention to what we call the four pillars of good conduct: integrity, transparency, good governance, and social responsibility. I think NYRA has taken very specific steps to make itself into a good corporate citizen."I can only imagine how ecstatic Charles Hayward and the rest of NYRA officials must be. Hayward was described as “beaming” when he quipped "I think it might be a good idea for Neil to come up and give his speech again.” Talk about feeling vindicated. And now they can focus on really important things like getting all the TVs in my favorite spots working before I get back. Oh, and stuff like Travers day too.
..He said NYRA has "become an industry leader" in dealing with racing integrity matters by shutting down connections to offshore rebate shops and taking what he said is the national lead in equine drug testing.
"Simply put, NYRA has unequivocally said 'yes' to racing integrity," Getnick said. On taking steps to boost wagering integrity, Getnick said NYRA has "an unmatched record of achievement."
When told he was leaving the strong impression that he would recommend an end to the NYRA prosecution, Getnick said: "I'm not speaking to our ultimate report. However, I think the NYRA record speaks for itself."
A little bit later, NYRA was reminded of the fight ahead to retain the racing franchise, which is certainly not guaranteed even with prosecution apparently being avoided. NYRA and Magna officials were both present at a later symposium, where Magna’s Jim McAlpine made their case to obtain the franchise, an initial volley, so to speak.
With top NYRA officials looking on, McAlpine said MEC is "not the devil," and could bring its for-profit mentality to New York to help the pari-mutuel industry. Peppering his sales pitch with a PowerPoint slide show depicting the company's holding, McAlpine said MEC doesn't need to control the franchise. "We'd be thrilled to do it on a partnership basis," he said.OK, stop right there. What we do not need here is gaudy entertainment centers with racinos and condos in Ozone Park, Queens or Elmont, L.I. OK, racinos, we need, unfortunately. But if they are even THINKING about this project as a "role model" for Saratoga, they're not going to make any friends here at all. You don't think they could be that clueless, do you? Hayward dismissed any idea of a partnership with Magna and suggested that the fact they would even suggest it indicates they don’t have the cash for the deal.
McAlpine finished up with a video of the company's rebuilding of Gulfstream Park. He called it a project that "could serve as a role model" for New York racing. [Bloodhorse]
Hayward told reporters he would "strongly encourage" officials to also look at MEC's past. He didn't elaborate but said: "I think people should make up their own minds about Magna."