"Aw, fuck," I can just hear New York Governor Andrew Cuomo mutter disgustedly when he learned that some horse won some race after winning some other race thus setting up some really big race at Belmont Park on June 9.
For one thing, I mean, he's just gotta be there, doesn't he? I know that NYRA is the evil empire and all which has, in Cuomo's estimation, been involved in scandals every other week over the past ten years. And yeah, it'll sure be rather awkward...especially in the light of the latest reported meeting between Cuomo and the NYRA Board on Friday.
Last Friday, Cuomo advised NYRA Chairman C. Steven Duncker, and vice chairmen — Michael J. DelGiudice, the speaker's appointee, James P. Heffernan, a Pataki appointee, and Charles Wait and Stuart Subotnick, NYRA appointees — that state control of NYRA is coming, including selecting the next chairman and nominating the next CEO. [Albany Times Union]Will he smile and exchange pleasantries with Ellen McClain, whose appointment infuriated him to the point of his invoking a legally questionable hold on NYRA's share of casino money?
However, being at a Triple Crown race is just a governor-ly thing to do. As always, we saw the Kentucky and Maryland governors at the post-race ceremonies of their states' big races. So wouldn't it be even more awkward for the governor should there be a Triple Crown winner and he's not there? Besides, given his presidential ambitions, I'd think he'd want to have his smiling mug up there before a large (we hope) national TV audience. Most of those viewers around the country don't know anything about the so-called 'scandals' at NYRA. And it's not like C. Steven Dunker is the equivalent of Jeremiah Wright or anything. Who else would he send anyway? Well, we know his Lietuenant Governor likes the races. And there's always the smarmy Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, whose district borders that of Belmont; and who I'm sure would be willing to compromise on something he professes to stand for in order to get his mug on TV and try to take credit for everything that Cuomo has done.
Who knows, maybe Cuomo will go and actually get caught up in the excitement like most normal human beings would, have a beer with Duncker, establish a rapport, usher in a new period of detente, and not even be mad that they made him pay 10 bucks to get in? Nah...
Whatsmore, whether the governor realizes it yet, the occasion of I'll Have Another coming to New York to try and win the Triple Crown will give NYRA the opportunity to shine on the grand stage, and show the state and the country what it does best - conduct high quality racing and handle big events such as this without a hitch. Well, as long as the bathrooms are working, anyway. The country will see the track in all its bucolic glory (via selective camera shots in the backyard area), with racing fans and casual observers of all ages basking in the sunshine (hopefully!!) and enjoying food and drink (that they didn't bring into the track with them unless they sneak it in as I will). And all those people who have heard or read all the rhetoric from the governor, and who have read all those ignorant NYRA-bashing editorials over the years, will wonder, what's so bad about these guys? "We anticipate a spectacular day of racing three weeks from now, and look forward to welcoming fans to beautiful Belmont Park," said Duncker in a press release issued shortly after the Preakness. Indeed!
It was as if on cue that the Post and the Daily News chimed in with said editorials this past weekend. The News referred to "New York’s publicly subsidized racing industry," referring, I guess, to the industry's share of slots money. That echos a theme sounded by the governor a few weeks ago when he questioned if the industry should continue to be "subsidized." I suppose one can claim that that share should go to the state for other purposes instead, but to equate it with taxpayers money as the News does is just a misleading stretch. The News also calls for "Management that would consider fresh ideas, such as closing Belmont or Aqueduct and turning one of the properties into a revenue-generator." Huh? Year round racing at Aqueduct? Comical, as Peter DeBoer might say. And the Post is no better, having already jumped to conclusions about the investigation of the takeout snafu that has yet to be completed. When Cuomo said last week that NYRA did not have the public trust, well it's little surprise when folks who otherwise no little about the issues are constantly fed crap like this.
- I'll Have Another earned a fine Beyer figure of 109, but we didn't need to see any numbers to know that his effort was an extraordinary display of persistence and courage (not to mention some deft riding by Mario Gutierrez),. For the son of Flower Alley to be able to catch a quality lone speed frontrunner who, under expert guidance himself, got enough of a breather to be able to skip away and open up daylight turning for home was truly the stuff that classic Classics are made of. I'll Have Another was relentless in getting the last 7/16ths in 43.54, a rate of 24.88 per quarter. That surely qualifies as "racehorse time," more and more an exception rather than the rule these days. You can certainly disparage the rest of the field, nine lengths back to third and depressingly gapped out beyond back to last place Pretension. But the top two and, with no disrespect to Bodemeister, especially the winner, surely proved to be worthy. It will be a deserving horse coming to New York (he's actually already here) with a legitimate chance to end this Triple Crown drought.
- And regarding Peter DeBoer, if you don't think the Devils are throwing elbows and setting illegal picks,watch here. Let's Go Rangers!!