LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
If ever there was a schizophrenic time to be involved in New York racing, this is it. It seems that NYRA isn’t the most popular organization in Albany, and I’m not sure how much Albany cares for racing period; I hope we can change that. We’ve had an atypical run of breakdowns at Aqueduct and, as if on cue, the New York Times starts a series of articles condemning racing timed for the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby. As only the Times can, they include truth accompanied by dubious metrics, incredible generalizations, a mix of apples and tumble weed, as well as an apparent agenda that makes you wonder if journalistic balance has disappeared in the rest of the paper as well.
On the bright side, we have higher purses that have given our owners a chance to make economic sense out of this business. Allowance races that haven’t filled for years went on a regular basis. New faces, new trainers and owners, brought new horses and better racing at the higher level.
On the breeding side, we have a larger and growing foal crop, new stallions, farms reopened, others being purchased. Horses are our job creators, and more horses more jobs equals more tax revenue.
Handle is up, attendance is up. Gotham day was big, and Wood Memorial day was even bigger. Gemologist, Hansen, Alpha…three of the top Kentucky Derby candidates prepped in New York.
We have work to do, there is no doubt. Our newsletter includes many of the initiatives we support as we work even harder to make sure our horses have secure and productive futures beyond the racetrack, and that our backstretch workers have the best quality of life we can provide. There is a task force looking into the practices and protocols in New York to determine if there is any way we can make New York racing even safer, and we will embrace recommendations they present to us.
Our industry has faced crisis before and overcome it. As always, our focus is to pursue anything and everything that is in the best interest of our athletes, both equine and human, and to ensure we have the safest sport possible. Our focus on those goals has never been more resolved.
All the best,
Rick Violette Jr.