- New York State Racing and Wagering Board (NYSRWB) suspended harness trainer Luis Pena indefinitely for allegedly illegally drugging horses in 675 races and racking up 1,719 equine drug violations. The Mexican-born trainer fired right back, accusing the board of racism.
- New York Racing Association (NYRA) has been seized under temporary public control. A new panel of members selected by Governor Cuomo and state legislative leaders will soon dominate the board of directors. Existing NYRA board members supported the reorganization plan unanimously. The proposed arrangement will last three years and operate under a new panel called the NYRA Reorganization Board. The new 17-member board will include 7 members appointed by Cuomo, 5 members appointed by state legislative leaders, and 5 members appointed by NYRA.
- Governor Cuomo stated that during the three-year reorganization period, the new board will restructure how NYRA is run. He did not rule out the possibility of closing Aqueduct, an idea his administration has tentatively explored recently.
- Barry Ostrager, President of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, said in a statement, "It is a great comfort to the New York thoroughbred breeders to know that Governor Cuomo has reaffirmed the State's commitment to support the New York breeding program and to protect and expand the number of jobs that have recently been created by our revivified industry."
- Getnick & Getnick, the law firm once paid to monitor ethics at NYRA, claims the group is blocking release of an internal 2011 report on "integrity investigations" that could be important to the state's takeover of NYRA's board. The law firm sought a meeting with NYRA to discuss two ongoing investigations. NYRA refused the meeting and fired the counsel a few weeks later. Getnick & Getnick has sued NYRA for $2 million as part of a claim that says it was illegally fired while compiling an investigative report on the association.
YTD 2012 vs. 2011 – NYRA Meet Statistics:
- Race dates: ▲6.2% (103)
- On-track handle: ▲17.2% ($102.6M)
- Avg. daily on-track handle: ▲10.4% ($995.9k)
- Total handle: ▲17.3% ($716.4M)
- Avg. daily handle: ▲10.4% ($7.0M)
- Total purses: ▲56.8% ($49.7M)
- Avg. attendance: ▼5.6% (4.3k)
- Avg. field size: ▲6.5% (7.65)
- Avg. winner payout: ▲24.3% ($12.16)
NYSRWB Monthly Meeting:
- NYSRWB Chairman John Sabini opened the meeting by referencing the magnitude of the upcoming Belmont Stakes. He mentioned that everything possible is being done to ensure that the event goes off without a hitch, including beefed up security, enhanced drug testing, heightened license checking, and strictly monitored barn access areas.
- A request by Saratoga Harness to conduct 9 horse fields in 2012 was approved by the board.