07/08/2015 10:51AM

Giwner: Quick chat with SOA of NY President Joe Faraldo

Joe Faraldo is President of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York.

With Yonkers Raceway recently announcing its intention to move the finish line and the hosting of the $1 million International Trot in October, Standardbred Owners Association of New York President Joe Faraldo took the time to chat about those topics as well as European simulcasting.

In a June 25 letter to the NY Gaming Commission, Yonkers Raceway requested that it be allowed to move the finish line 60 to 90 feet further back from the first turn (east). This adjustment would afford outside horses a greater opportunity to show early speed and gain valuable position on the half-mile track.

“We’ve been advocating for this for over two years,” said Faraldo, who added that the greatest opposition was always the insistence that the Judges booth be aligned with the finish line. “This is not 1910. In hockey they call a central office to judge replays, why do the judges need to be right on the wire. They have monitors and multiple camera angles.”

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Faraldo also said that drivers felt the change would create more movement during the races, a common complaint about the races at Yonkers.

While not willing to publically disclose his intentions, Faraldo is also working on another enhancement to give outside horses an improved chance at getting involved early . . . stay tuned.

Plans have already begun for the $1,000,000 International Trot on October 10 at the historic Yonkers oval. The race is expected to contain 10 horses travelling 1-1/4 miles with a tentative post time of 2:55 p.m. as part of four races that will be simulcast to the PMU in Europe.

While it is too early to confirm any possible starters, he mentioned Stent from New Zealand and Timoko from France as showing interest in coming to the U.S. to compete.

Any horse which travels overseas to compete and makes their first North American start in the International will be guaranteed $37,500 if they fail to finish in the top five on October 10. North American horses are guaranteed $10,000 if they do not get a check from the purse.

The fact that the International Trot will be contested on the same afternoon as the Kentucky Futurity and other major stakes from The Red Mile was a hotbed issue a few weeks back and Faraldo noted that the track did everything to avoid the conflict.

“Bob Galterio (Yonkers Raceway Vice President/COO) had every major race in Europe printed out on his desk. They went through every race to see if there was a way to do it and not interfere with The Red Mile,” said Faraldo. “Ultimately the French pushed us into that date.”

Faraldo also bandied an interesting idea for working together with the Red Mile to make a special day of harness racing out of October 10. He said there were discussions about having a cooperative wager and possibly doing a live one-hour broadcast on a major cable sports network promoting the racing from both tracks.

The USTA, which has set aside a TV broadcasting fund to assist tracks with broadcasting major races in 2015, would be partners with Yonkers and the SOA of NY in televising the International. According to Faraldo, Galterio is looking into the possibilities.

As with the International Trot, Yonkers has been simulcasting about five races to Europe almost every other Tuesday afternoon. Faraldo admits that European handle has dipped from the initial test period on Sundays in November and December last year.

“We are probably doing about $400-$450,000 per card,” said Faraldo about the Tuesday afternoons. “We are starting later on Tuesdays than we did on Sundays and that has been problematic because we start simulcasting at 3 p.m., which is 9 p.m. out there. Our first race does well, about $100,000, and then it drops off. By the fifth race we send, it is 11 p.m. and people just don’t stay up for that.”

According to Faraldo, negotiations have already begun to switch to a 7 p.m. start time in Europe and perhaps send seven to eight races a night to maximize visibility.

The sometimes brash Faraldo seems to have turned over a new leaf in recent years, looking to do what he can to help the sport. “It probably sounds strange coming from me, but I’m trying to cooperate as much as possible. We need more cooperation in the sport,” he concluded.

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