01/17/2013 5:19PM

NYRA considers cutback to inner-track racing schedule

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. – A reduction to a four-day race week and a cutback to eight races per day during Aqueduct’s winter meet as well as the replacement of Aqueduct’s inner track with a synthetic surface will all be considered at next Friday’s meeting of the New York Racing Association Reorganization Board, it was announced Thursday afternoon.

These measures, as well as others, are in response to the four racing fatalities that occurred during the first 16 days of the inner track season. There has not been a racing fatality since Jan. 10.

The board also will consider curtailing racing on the inner track, which – though not clearly defined – likely means moving racing to Aqueduct’s main track earlier than the tentative March 30 date that was mentioned in the press release. Last year, due to good weather, the main track opened two weeks earlier than scheduled. If that’s the case this winter, then one could reasonably expect the main track to open March 17.

Last year, there were 21 racing fatalities over the inner track, which led to Gov. Andrew Cuomo forming the New York Task Force on Racehorse Health and Safety. That group made many recommendations, though, surprisingly, none mentioned a reduction in racing days or races.

One recommendation the Task Force made that will now be implemented by NYRA is to establish the position of an Equine Veterinary Medical Director. That individual will establish the Mortality Review Board.

Last week, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board implemented the Task Force recommendation to have all euthanized horses at Aqueduct undergo a necropsy at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University.

“NYRA is taking immediate steps to try to prevent more catastrophic injuries from occurring,” NYRA chairman David Skorton said in the release. “We are establishing a new position, Equine Veterinary Medical Director, to be in charge of the health and safety of horses at all NYRA tracks and direct investigations into these unfortunate events.”

Earlier this year, the NYRA implemented stricter recommendation guidelines put forth by the Task Force, including a two-week withdrawal time for the administration of the highly used medication clenbuterol. In other jurisdictions – including those in the Mid-Atlantic region – the withdrawal time is four days or fewer. That, as well as longer withdrawal times for the administration of certain steroids, has resulted in far few shippers coming to New York to race this winter.

“We need to be given the opportunity to shrink the season a little bit,” said trainer Rick Violette, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association and a non-voting NYRA board member. “One of the reasons is the new medication standards we set here – it’s resulted in over an 80 percent reduction in shippers.

“We’re not going to yield on the heightened medication policies right now; we can ride this out,” Violette added.

It is worth noting that legislation would have to be passed in order to reduce the number of racing days run during the winter. Current law requires NYRA to card 95 racing dates from Dec. 1 through May 1 or face penalties in the form of higher taxes.

Anonymous User More than 1 year ago
Go to a 4-day 8-race racing schedule. Use the money saved from less racing days and races to help boost the purses for ungraded stakes races at all three tracks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The horse men at NYRA are not going to Yeild or fight the med changes because the love the 6.9 horse per race field and no shippers. Its welfare. What about the bettors? Oh that's right purses come from slot money. New York pays too much from second finish position to end position. The racing stinks. And of course safety is number one priority. Then integrity second. But there are other priorities.
Nathan More than 1 year ago
100% true. that's why wagering is down. as a horseplayer, i would like to know what and when a horse is having his knees and ankles injected. the vets have to report to nyra but it isn't posted anywere.. also, what testing is done to detect the "acid" that horses are being injected with? the answer is NONE! it's the honor system. sorry, honor and gambling do not go hand in hand in the backstretch and the farms.. LIE DETECTOR TESTING. the only solution. or get OPRAH involved.
thomas j More than 1 year ago
This is why Gaspar Moschera left the business 10 years ago. He admitted that, to make a living, he would have to cheat to keep up with the other trainers and he refused to do that..... No one proves that they care. Just meetings after meetings after meetings etc. and trainers go on injecting joints. P.S. Lie detector testing proves nothing. I had to take one every 3 months for a previous job and it proves nothing.
George Grennan More than 1 year ago
All you have to do is go after the vets. They get a pass while the babe gets 10 years!
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Now they just need somebody who can make a betable card. AWFUL.
Rachel Harding More than 1 year ago
Santa Anita changed their track surface to synthetic for the same reason, didnt work so they switched back to dirt. i think its going to be the same for Aqueduct. plus that track is going to look awfully weird sporting synthetic lol
mikey J More than 1 year ago
PLEASE!!!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!!!! Do not install a synthetic surface at the Big A.
Brian Gaynor More than 1 year ago
No kidding! How bad will that make trying to handicap? I gave up betting the non dirt tracks a while ago.
michael More than 1 year ago
A great idea. This inner track never lived up to its hype and promise. Most reaces the horses never change position and it has been called a conveyor belt, which normally is exactly the style of racing there. If not for the possible loss of interest in bit A totally, one would think doing away with winter racing in New York would be the best decision, but a lot of people are employed so it's best to keep them going at least minimally. 8 races a day for four days may be the way to go after all. Opening up the legitimate main track early, weather permitting is also a good idea. A synthetic track installation is not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fewer racing days and fewer races per card. But the cash continues to flow from slots. Conclusion to be drawn shortly: racing does not need this purse money so let's change existing allocation agreements and send money elsewhere.
Brian Gaynor More than 1 year ago
Bingo kid!
robert More than 1 year ago
What were the results of the necropsies on the 28 recent fatalities on the inner surface at the big 'a'? I think the track is blamed too often. What about fatalities during the morning workouts that should be high too if it is the surface When the redskins' QB RGIII went down they blamed the surface at RFK stadium. not true.