- More on the non-story about NYRA and synthetic tracks in the NY Post. John Lee confirms what we kinda knew, that they're "not in a position financially to do anything about it." The cost would be around $50 million.
Nick Zito, one of the more vocal opponents of artificial surfaces amongst NY horsemen, said:
"Why spend $50 million on synthetic garbage we know nothing about? Before we rush to judgment again, shouldn't we study how much money it would take to put in safe, state-of-the-art dirt tracks? [NY Post]I think that it's not constructive, and maybe even irresponsible, for Zito, as the chairman of the National Horse Protection Coalition, to be calling the surfaces "garbage" at this point in time. This is a divisive issue, and I know that some, and perhaps many of you may share his sentiments. But it's my strong opinion that the industry must give these surfaces a full and fair chance. The potential upside - fewer injuries, and a de-emphasis on speed that could very well spur the changes in breeding practices that we all would like to see - are far too great to cast them aside at this early stage. In the end, it's possible that we may just learn that dirt tracks built over newly-built cushions are the best alternative after all; if that's the case, then the experiment will still have proven worthwhile in my opinion.
William C. Rhoden wrote a far more controlled and rational column in the Times yesterday; it seemed almost as if he knew he went way too far on Sunday and was trying to demonstrate that he can be reasonable. However, amongst his suggestions on things the industry should be doing was this:
What about racing surfaces? There are indications, but no conclusive proof, that synthetic surfaces are safer. I suspect, however, that synthetic surfaces are becoming popular not so much to aid the horses, but to keep the surface consistent in order to make racing easier to schedule.How dare he suggest that the motivation behind the surfaces is a cynical one based on finance and convenience rather than safety? Does he think California and Arlington went into emergency mode "in order to make racing easier to schedule?" I find that to be a despicable suggestion; one that I'd like to see him make to Joe Harper's face. (Or to mine for that matter!)