12/01/2010 9:58AM

NYRA's Quick Hook


The second I woke up this morning (Wednesday) and heard the wind and saw the rain, I knew the New York Racing Association would cancel the card at Aqueduct.

Wednesday's cancellation was very much in keeping with the "quick hook" philosophy the NYRA has demonstrated in recent years regarding weather-related situations. I am not arguing with this policy. No one wants to put jockeys and horses at even greater risk than usual because of adverse weather conditions. But at the risk of sounding like an old grandpa telling the youngins how soft they have it because he had to walk 10 miles to school everyday through blizzards - uphill - it is amazing how things have changed over the years regarding the NYRA's position on cancellations.

It is true that as of early Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service did have a "wind advisory" posted for the New York City area which called for southeast winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour with occasional gusts of 40 to 50 mph. But the advisory also said those winds were mainly for the locations north and west of New York City, with the strongest winds occurring mainly across higher elevations. Aqueduct, it should be noted, lies east of New York City and, being hard by Jamaica Bay, is at sea level. The National Weather Service also predicted new rainfall amounts of 1-2 to 3-4 of an inch of rain, with radar indicating the heaviest rain staying off to the west.

In other words, folks, what cancelled Wednesday's card at Aqueduct was a rainstorm! A fairly typical, mostly unspectacular rainstorm.

It's a good thing that this quick hook cancellation policy wasn't in effect on Belmont Stakes Day in 1986. On that day, the rain came down in sheets, at times making it difficult to even read the infield tote board. The weather was far worse that day than what we have had so far on Long Island this morning (it's 8:48, and it's not raining right now). But if that 1986 Belmont Stakes card was postponed for a day or a week because of the weather, then maybe Personal Flag doesn't get caught running all the way on a dead rail and wins that Belmont, and maybe Danzig Connection doesn't provide Woody Stephens with his fifth straight Belmont Stakes victory.

Photo: Danzig Connection wins the 1986 Belmont. Credit: Bob Coglianese/NYRA.

C More than 1 year ago
Del, There are a few factors involved there. The first is location. Aqueduct is in a middle class neighborhood that can be a little sketchy at times, whereas Belmont, for example, is in a slightly nicer area, but is simply a far more beautiful track. Compared to California, there is no comparison... but let's just say there is a reason why the admission is so high there. It is meant to keep the bad element out and it works very well. Of course, those tracks are in much more affluent areas too, so the locals are nothing like what you see in New York. If they did that at Aqueduct, however, there wouldn't be anyone left to fill the track. I live 15 minutes from Aqueduct, by the way.
Del More than 1 year ago
I can't remember what I paid for admission at Aquaduct, but I don't recall that it was too much.
Rick More than 1 year ago
If NYRA is sooo concerned about track conditions especially when they pay top dollar for the inner track...then maybe they should run their races in the Nassau Coliseum and install a poly track and have uphill courses starting in the second level...yeah...yeah. The oval can be like Charles Town or Timonium. Have 1 furlong races. Eh, its too early. Keep it outside! I prefer Turfway Park at this time of year. .50 cent plays...keeps me around awhile and payouts are usually sweet if a bomb gets in the mix. Not sure why some tracks keep the minimum at a buck rather than .50?? Times have changed and people want to hit a .50cent Pick 3 that pays $500 on .50 rather than putting up a buck and having to owe most of it to the tax man come next year. Peace!
markinsac More than 1 year ago
Mike, I know this is off target, but since your NY players will have to hit simulcast today, I'd like to point something out: STARTING DECEMBER 26, California is advertising a "25%" purse increase that will make everything better again. Only one thing they forgot to mention: You, the bettor, is footing the bill! Since racetrack executives, horse trainers, and all those making a living in the industry don't want to make cuts on themselves, they decided to shake the bettors, try to get an extra dime here and dime there. They have raised the takeout rate on exotic bets 10-15%. If you hit an exacta at Santa Anita that pays $78, that same exacta pays $88 at Hialeah or $90 if you're at Delaware Park. Now how many times do you hit an exacta or tri in a year? Will that $10 add up over time and affect your "Bottom Line?" I realize betting on Quarter Horses isn't as glamorous or exciting, but in this day of simulcasting and home betting, trying to solve the second race at Hialeah is just as difficult as the 9th at Santa Anita. By contrast, Cal Expo Harness in Sacramento, CALIFORNIA has a deal on Saturday where the late pick-4 is a 0% takeout! That's right, 0%! The catch is you have to bet it live on track or through Twin Spires account wagering. I happen to live in Sacramento and have a Twin Spires account, but i'm not plugging the local track on purpose. If you bet into these pools, Hialeah (12% takeout rates on ALL bets or Cal Expo Saturday late pick-4), it will send a message to the bigger tracks that WE'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE. Most of you will continue to support California racing, it's a good program and I would not want it to go away. But we have to think about ourselves too. If they succeed with the takeout increase, who can stop them again from doing it again? And who can stop any other organization from doing it again? Vote with your betting buck and let them know what you think . . .
Del More than 1 year ago
I'm from Minnesota and visited Aquaduct last year. I have to say it was sad. Admittedly, the day was wet and gray, but the facilities are in disrepair. The atomosphere is awful. The crowd, more than 95 percent men. Definitely not a family type venue. You can smell smoke inside. The bathrooms are old and smelly. My own local track, Canterbury Park, though a minor track, is far more appealing I think. When I was at Aquaduct, I felt sorry for the great jockies of New York having to earn a living at such a neglected track. By the way, I'm not biased against New York racing. I actually like to handicap California synthetic tracks. I think it's the way to go - synthetic, that is. They have pretty good racing in California when it rains. I think the crowds in California are more diverse too. There's a broader appeal. Just my 2 cents. I have so many relatives in New York and think the city's residents deserve better.
The_Knight_Sky racing More than 1 year ago
Yes. The winds became truly fierce by mid-afternoon. Sure hope none of the fake flowers in the paddock had their petals broken off. :P Quick hooks should be the proper M.O. during this winter. No one wants to pay for bridge tolls and drive through inclement weather to see them run the first half of the double and then cancel the rest of the races. That's what the other racetracks do so the live audience will divert their dollars to simulcasting or slots. The NYRA racing brass has got the right idea (so far) this winter.
tony v More than 1 year ago
No big deal the $7500 claimers will have to wait another day . NYRA is one of the worse run racing companies in the USA Nothing surprises me with them . They are just praying the slots are going to bail them out . I wouldn't be so sure .
Gerald Goldfader More than 1 year ago
I don't really understand why racing on wet grass is such a contentious issue here. They do it in Europe all the time and over the jumps too. In fact if they cancelled every time it rained in England they would hardly have any racing at all! Is the grass over there somehow different or are the jockeys and horses somewhat hardier? GERRY from Miami
cnote More than 1 year ago
What's up with the Inner Track,I thought this could be used for all sorts of weather ?
Alan More than 1 year ago
The storm did become fierce. NYRA made the right call this time. Their consideration for bettors has dramatically improved. Early scratches are announced as early as 11AM. Years ago, it seemed that they held back on reporting scratches until it was past time to decide whether or not to attend the races. Looks like OTB will be closed. NYRA is providing free bus service to the track, beginning December 4th, from various OTB locations.
Larry More than 1 year ago
NYRA, as a burden to the New York taxpayers, loses money every time a horse sets foot upon the track. These days, NYRA throws a party when the track doesn't race.