03/03/2014 3:15PM

Aqueduct: NYRA executives miss Gotham Stakes

Debra A. Roma
Samraat and jockey Jose Ortiz win the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes by a neck over Uncle Sigh on Saturday.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Neither Chris Kay, the New York Racing Association’s chief executive and president, nor Martin Panza, NYRA’s senior vice president of racing operations, was at Aqueduct for Saturday’s first meaningful card of 2014, featuring the Grade 3, $500,000 Gotham Stakes – the second-richest race of the winter/spring meet – and two other graded stakes.

Reached Sunday, Panza said he was in Southern California, attempting to recruit some horsemen to send a string for the Belmont spring/summer meet. Panza, who worked at Hollywood Park for two decades before coming to NYRA last November, said stall applications for the Belmont meet were due Saturday.

“This is a trip I needed to take,” Panza said.

Kay said he was sick, feeling the effects of what he said has been a vigorous work schedule that “took its toll. [Saturday], I got up and felt awful. I certainly intended to be there to present the trophy.”

David O’Rourke, NYRA’s vice president of corporate development, presented the trophy to owner Len Riggio and trainer Rick Violette, the connections of the Gotham winner, Samraat.