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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New York Racing Report

Here is a Report on New York Happenings from HANA's New York State Rep.

Overview:
  • New York State Franchise Oversight Board (NYSFOB), which was created in 2008 to monitor New York Racing Association (NYRA) finances, released its 2011 Annual Report to Governor Cuomo and members of the Legislature. The report stated that NYRA "faces significant challenges moving forward" and "sees nothing immediate in NYRA's future to suggest a long-term strategy for financial health." The board said NYRA must devise a strategy "to end its reliance on VLT subsidies and immediately develop plans on how it will meet this goal." Some members of the oversight panel "expressed a desire for better understanding of the impact that higher purses have on racing and whether the current distribution of VLT money provides the most effective use of the funds for NYRA." The report also said, "It is vital for NYRA to re-establish the credibility of the sport through efforts to improve horse safety, owner/trainer integrity, and enforcement of the rules governing drug administrations." (full report: http://www.budget.ny...nnualReport.pdf)
  • NYRA announced that the field size of two-year-old maiden races at sprint distances during the upcoming Saratoga meet would be limited to eight starters and for two-turn juvenile maiden races to 10 starters. Previously, NYRA allowed as many as 14 starters in a juvenile maiden sprint.
  • NYRA has hired Rodnell Workman, a former NFL team executive, as its chief marketing officer and a vice president. Plans remain in place to move ahead with a $20 million capital spend, a portion of which budgeted for the development of a new marketing strategy.
  • About $4 million in VLT revenue was released to NYRA by the state, which cut off this source in May as a sign of disapproval with appointments made by NYRA.
  • According to a press release issued by New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (NYTHA), there have been no reported positive tests for the drug dermorphin in New York. Dermorphin, a painkiller believed to be 30 to 40 times more powerful than morphine, has been in the headlines recently with several Quarter Horses and some Thoroughbreds having tested positive in Louisiana and Oklahoma.
  • According to data distributed by Genting, the operator of Resorts World, slot-machine revenue was $57.5 million in May, higher than any other casino in the United States.
  • A bill giving New York politicians control over NYRA passed unanimously out of the state Assembly Legislation. The 17-member Reorganization Board will have five members selected by NYRA's current board, eight appointed by Cuomo, and two from each legislative leader. Cuomo will nominate one of the members to serve as chair. There will also be two non-voting board members, with one appointed by New York Thoroughbred Breeders (NYTB) and one from NYTHA. The Reorganization Board is set to terminate in three years. (link to bill: http://open.nysenate...bill/S7744-2011)
  • Although the state is essentially taking over NYRA, it is not clear whether it is assuming any liability. Section 202-B states, "Nothing in this article shall be construed to accept a liability to or create a debt of the state within the meaning of any constitutional or statutory provision."
  • NYRA and NBC Sports have announced the schedule for this year's "Summer at Saratoga" series, with five live broadcasts from Saratoga, starting on August 11 and running through September 1.
  • Two New York senators said the anti-bleeding medication furosemide (Lasix) should not be banned on race day. The release came from Republican Sens. Jack Martins, who represents Mineola, and Roy McDonald, whose district includes Saratoga Springs. It includes a comment from Rick Violette, president of NYTHA, which opposes a ban on Lasix. "The welfare of the racehorse should be the first and most important concern for anyone involved in the Thoroughbred racing industry," McDonald said. "Making a change to race-day medications, specifically banning the use of Lasix to prevent exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging, could have dangerous results. It would be unconscionable to make any horse more vulnerable to a condition that could potentially place the horse and rider into a fatal situation." The New York State Racing and Wagering Board (NYSRWB) has taken comments from industry stakeholders on the use of race-day Lasix and has indicated it will formally address the issue.
  • The Belmont Stakes crowd came in at 85,811, almost 30% less than NYRA had expected before I'll Have Another was scratched, but still much higher than other years when the Triple Crown was not on the line (no doubt due to the timing of the scratch). In fact, the number was a record for a Belmont Stakes day in which the Triple Crown could not be won. Additionally, handle was strong: on-site handle was $13.8 million, the second-largest Belmont Stakes day in history.
  • TwinSpires.com credited wagering accounts of players impacted by NYRA's incorrect takeout rates. TwinSpires.com worked with United Tote to recalculate payoffs on over 280,000 wagers for over 22,000 impacted account holders.
  • IBEW Local 3, the union representing the maintenance crew and starters at Belmont Park, threatened to strike the day before the Belmont Stakes. Governor Cuomo urged workers at to settle the dispute ahead of the race. More than 150 employees have been locked in a labor dispute with the NYRA over wages and health care benefits since 2010. Fortunately, after a mediator was brought in, NYRA and the union settled the dispute ahead of the big race.
  • NYSRWB blindsided NYRA by the sudden demand that all of the horses running in the Belmont Stakes be stabled together in a separate "stakes barn," where they, their handlers, and veterinarians will be closely monitored for 24 hours a day up until the race.
  • Trainer Dale Romans criticized NYSRWB when they decided to establish a detention barn to house Belmont Stakes starters, saying the decision fails to put the welfare of horses first. "They are not cars that you can just go and move from one garage to the next," he said. "These are creatures of habit. They like being where they are. The biggest problem we have in our game is the disconnect between the regulators of the game and the reality of what goes on in the barn area."
1H 2012 vs.1H 2011 – NYRA Meet Statistics:
  • Race dates: 6.0% (123)
  • On-track handle: 17.9% ($140.3M)
  • Avg. daily on-track handle: 12.1% ($1.1M)
  • Total handle: 16.5% ($967.4M)
  • Avg. daily handle: 10.7% ($7.9M)
  • Total purses: 51.1% ($63.5M)
  • Avg. attendance: 8.3% (5.4k)
  • Avg. field size: 7.3% (7.78)
  • Avg. winner payout: 18.9% ($12.07)

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