01/31/2013 5:53PM

Aqueduct: NYRA cuts six days from inner-track meet

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Beginning next week, Aqueduct will implement a four-day race week for February and March, shaving six days off its winter schedule, it was announced Thursday.

The request by the New York Racing Association to reduce its schedule was formally approved by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board at its final meeting Thursday. It must get final approval by the Franchise Oversight Board, expected to be a fait accompli.

NYRA needed approval from these boards because by reducing the schedule it will not satisfy a state law that required it to schedule 95 cards from Dec. 1 through May 1 or face a significant tax repercussion. This will bring the number of scheduled cards during that period to 91. Three cards so far have been scrapped due to weather.

There will be no live racing at Aqueduct on Feb. 6, 13, 14, and 27 as well as March 6 and 13. Aqueduct and Belmont Park will be open for simulcasting on those days.

NYRA’s reasoning for seeking a reduced schedule is two-fold. First, there is a concern over safety. There have been eight racing-related fatalities over the inner track since the meet began Dec. 12. However, no one has come out and declared the inner track unsafe.

Second, there has been a significant reduction in field size since new medication rules were implemented by NYRA in December. NYRA officials reported at the Jan. 25 meeting of the NYRA Reorganization Board that average field size at this meet has been 6.9, down from 7.9 last winter.

P.J. Campo, NYRA’s vice president/racing secretary, said there has been a 75 percent reduction in shippers from the Mid-Atlantic region due in large part to the new medication rules.

In December, NYRA moved the permitted administration of the medication clenbuterol from four days out from a race to 14 days out. At Parx Racing, in Pennsylvania, and Laurel, in Maryland – which race four days a week – the administration of clenbuterol is permitted to be given 48 hours out from race day.

Also, at NYRA tracks, the administration of intra-articlar corticosteroids, including DepoMedrol was moved from two to seven days out.

Those medication rules changes were recommendations by made the New York Task Force on Health and Safety in September. Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for that Task Force after there were 21 racing fatalities during the 2011-12 inner-track meeting.

Campo said it is his hope, weather permitting, that racing would move to Aqueduct’s main track on March 14.

Nathan More than 1 year ago
less shippers prove that trainers need these drugs to participate competetively. let them stay at lrl and parx. what happens when all the big stables ship north from florida? we will now begin to separate the pro'a from the riff-raff.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At least an early switch to the main track is good news. I'm not one to believe the inner track is unsafe. I'm merely one to believe that the main track offers more interest than the sameness of a mile & 70 yards, or races never being carded beyond a mile and a sixteenth. Everyone has the same problem, of thinking that the inner-track's meet just drones on and on even with less cards or fewer horses.
robert More than 1 year ago
"...., ship-ins from neighboring states have declined by 75 percent this winter, reducing the average field size from 7.9 a year ago to 6.9 now...... That is a drastic drop in field size yet the racing fatalities continue plus those fatalities that aren't counted that occur in the morning training. If one witnessed a morning fatality you couldn't report it to the DRF but with a new board you can report it to NYRA board
Douglas Amos More than 1 year ago
Eliminating shippers means there is nothing to claim; result, no horse population. More genius from the fools at the top. Time for another expensive junket for all the suits; 1 way this time. 3 years, at best.
wolves More than 1 year ago
how about getting rid of coupled entries? It's a no-brainer. Why won't NYRA lobby to get rid of this nonsense rule? It's mutually beneficial to the bettor and NYRA. Bigger fields equal more betting. Not only that, what if you like the less fancied half of the entry?
Lou Severino More than 1 year ago
Looks like those new rules were very effective - in making bad racing even worse. Good job guys
W.G. More than 1 year ago
The move to four-day weeks was necessary not only because of a lack of shippers on the medication rule and also with Maryland in particular because of a crackdown on horses shipping from Laurel to run at both Parx and the NYRA tracks. Also, we have had a higher claiming bottom that is double ($12,500) what it is at Gulfstream Park ($6,250). Besides Aqueduct until now, Gulfstream is the only track running a five-day week on a regular basis. The combination of horses not running as often as they once did and fewer horses overall have contributed to NYRA's problems as well, so this move makes sense on those fronts. Going with four day weeks from now until turf racing starts in April (and more horses are available) makes more sense on those accounts.
Mike Muscato More than 1 year ago
Fields have been the same for 25 yrs. (and years ago there were 9 races per day) If this were important then NYRA should have done this back in November. Hope that they stop messing with the Spa
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Those 11 or 12 races on weekends are tough however no one is forced to bet on all races. 10 races per day are enough for me. I'm looking forward to May with Turf racing at Belmont Park.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good move. I wonder if Belmont will go down to a 4 day race week if the fields are small.
W.G. More than 1 year ago
Turf racing at Belmont will likely prevent the need for four day weeks with limited exceptions (Belmont Stakes week for one), though one thing I would do is make the Wednesday following Major League Baseball's All-Star game the last day of racing before Saratoga with a full week off before that meet starts AND there also being a full week off after the Saratoga before a Belmont meet that would run through Election Day (first Tuesday in November) would take place.