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Friday, January 18, 2013

Panic Time

The state-controlled NYRA Reorganization Board "will have serious discussions next week to consider important issues that affect the health and safety of our jockeys and horses," according to Chairman David Skorton.  This comes in response to recent breakdowns on the Big A inner track.  

Four horses -- El Macho (December 13, 1ST race), Bomber Boy (January 6, 7TH race), Wildcat's Smile (January 6, 8TH race) and Pleasantfriday (January 10, 5TH race) -- were injured and euthanized since racing began on the inner track on December 12. [BRIS]
  In addition to the establishment of an equine veterinary medical director, a Mortality Review Board, and full necropsies on all dead horses (I do hope that the state is devoting as much attention and resources to, say, the deaths of people in its troubled disabled care system), the Board will consider the installation of a synthetic track to replace the current surface. 

Now, breaking out my trusty 2013 NYRA calendar, that makes four fatalities in 22 racing days on the inner track; and there are 51 scheduled days left (though NYRA is considering moving back to the main track earlier than March 30 if possible).  If fatalities continue at the same rate, then the final total for the meet would be around 13 or 14.  That's compared to 21 from the meet last year (which was indeed shortened)....but still slightly more than recent years past: from 2002 through 2011, the figures were 8-8-3-9-8-11-10-12-12-10.

Still, the Board is reacting to a very small sample size - spates of injuries are often followed by long periods without one - and not allowing the meet to fully play out in order to evaluate changes made since last year.  Let's face it; four deaths in 22 days would not have garnered much attention if not for the publicity last year.  Now I'm all for synthetic surfaces as you may know.  But if the NYRA Reorg Board thinks that a synth track is going to be a cure-all for fatal breakdowns, then they are going to be sorely disappointed, and the Board members who actually know about horse racing know that full well.   And remember, the inner track surface itself was completely exonerated by the report on the breakdowns last year.

Also up for discussion is a cut back to four racing days a week and eight races a day.  Fields are short, and trainer and NYTHA president Richard Violette explains why. 
  “We need to be given the opportunity to shrink the season a little bit,....One of the reasons is the new medication standards we set here – it’s resulted in over an 80 percent reduction in shippers. [DRF]
  The problem is mainly the restrictions on the use of clenbuterol, now restricted 14 days out here as opposed to just a few days at other tracks in the region with slots-inflated purses.  So you can kiss all the talk about those purses here reviving the winter sport goodbye, due to a medication rule that is really more to satisfy the New York Times as for any scientifically yet-to-be-proven purpose.

 - Made my first visit to the Big A last weekend, and lasted for about a half hour.  Indeed, the back rooms on the second floor are closed, ostensibly so that Genting can help to construct the promised simulcast/sports bar facility there.  Until that room is ready, I'll continue to play the races from home. 


Teresa said...

From Tom LaMarra in the Blood-Horse:

"Since Jan. 1 in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course had the largest field size average of 9.44 horses, followed by Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races (8.39), Parx Racing (8.04), Laurel (7.39), and Aqueduct Racetrack (6.98).

Aqueduct had the smallest average field size despite having the highest average daily purses at $384,502."

Anonymous said...

Of course, the new rules and the greater scrutiny involved in racing in New York/NYRA keeps shippers from showing up.

Alan, I thought for sure that you would comment about the Feds looking into indicting the politicians that were involved in the AEG bid-rigging casino scam, that was all but ignored by Cuomo.

Figless said...

Do not discount the effect on lowering the bottom claiming price as well. Many of the larger fields last winter were the $7500 variety.

Plenty of stall space at Belmont, full to capacity in Philly.

This was totally predictable, of course.

Don't see ANY Woodbine shippers this year, usually there are a few barns. Very few Finger Lakes as well.

Figless said...

PS - There is nothing wrong with the surface, its just been warm again this winter.

IF they mandate AWT, should replace the inner with it, and semi winterize the outer (with new modern base) so can have variety of surfaces and distances all winter.

Unknown said...

>>Alan, I thought for sure that you would comment about the Feds looking into indicting the politicians that were involved in the AEG bid-rigging casino scam, that was all but ignored by Cuomo.

Coming, thanks..

Anonymous said...

Perhaps its the continued destruction of the game by megastables everybody loves to love. They're all at Palm Meadows doing little.
Not to mention the foal crop has shrunk measurably.

TAP keeps about 175 hd in training the past few years. Rick Dutrow, because the state (apparently) hates him, was down to about 60 in 2012. Starts:
Go figure. Regardless, good job NY!

Figless said...

TRAKUS and HD (finally) coming to Saratoga.

ballyfager said...

If they decide to install a synthetic track that will be the final proof that they are utterly clueless.

In NY the problem starts at the very top as the governor is an ass (and the apple didn't fall too far from the tree).

Figless said...

A prime example of being "Left At The Gate",0,5668390.story

Figless said...

Cuomo "redirecting" 1% of VLT purse money to horse safety issues, fear this will be the first of many such "redirections", none of which will come from the State or NYRA's money. Impotent horsemen of course support the move, going down without a whimper.

Next they will "redirect" purses to pay for AWT that no horseman wants.

IF I thought any of this would actually serve to protect the horses I would support, but its just an overreaction to a bad winter at the Big A. And I feel that the burden should be equally shared by the various parties.

Figless said...

For instance, upgrading track safety should come from the money already allocated to Capital Improvements as opposed to, say, upgrading the clubhouse at Saratoga.