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Friday, December 16, 2005

The Work of Fools

- In New York, the Committee on the Future of Racing has scheduled hearings for late next month to consider ways in which to improve the business of racing in the state. The committee will, at some point next year, perhaps in the spring, be issuing its Request For Proposals from parties interested in taking over the racing franchise, and the hope is that people from the racing industry will attend the meetings, scheduled for Jan 24 in Albany and the next day in NYC. 'We are looking for people who have something to say about the system now and how it can be improved in the future,' said committee member Bernadette Castro, the state parks system's commissioner. [The Saratogian]

You may recall that Governor Pataki’s bid to install Ms. Castro as the new head of the State Racing and Wagering Board was rebuffed earlier this month, but she still hopes to win the appointment.

Castro said she is looking forward to the appointment but can't say when it will happen.

She said she would be a good fit because the Castro family has owned a farm surrounded by horse country in Ocala, Fla., for 40 years. She said her post in charge of state parks has prepared her for managing the sport of racing, as several equine trails have been developed by her office. [Albany Times-Union]
(A response to an email inquiry confirmed that she said this with a straight face.) If a few horse trails makes her qualified to assume such a crucial position in the industry, I can think of some people who may be even more capable. How about NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly? After all, his department maintains a fine stable of equines for its mounted police. Better yet, how about former commissioner Bernard Kerik, who in addition to having managed the mounted cops has also shown that he’s full of horseshit. (And to think that the president nominated this guy to lead our Homeland Security.)

Or how about Dr. Steven E. Sanderson? He’s the President of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the Bronx Zoo. I don’t think there are any horses there, but there are zebras, and they’re almost horses, right? Or maybe Patti Smith! I mean, she’s been celebrating the 30th anniversary of her legendary album, Horses! The next thing you know, Castro will be telling us that she’s qualified to be the next leader of Cuba!

Racing in New York is approaching a crossroads; a chance to right everything that’s wrong. Instead, things seem to be getting worse. NYRA is nearing bankruptcy and has been foiled by the state in their attempts to raise money; the State Lottery will not allow them to start construction of the Aqueduct casino and no one knows exactly why, though you can bet that someone higher up in Albany is involved. The State Racing and Wagering Board is leaderless as Pataki and Senate Republican leader Joseph Bruno wage their petty battles. The Committee on the Future of Racing, whose job is to determine just that at this most crucial time, is three members short, because Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has not made his appointments, perhaps because he’s waiting for Democrat Eliot Spitzer to become the next governor. And Bernadette Castro wants to bring her vast experience in managing horse trails to the most important position in the state’s racing hierarchy.

Patti Smith once wrote that the “People have the power / To redeem the work of fools,” but in this case the damage may be beyond repair.