08/28/2013 12:40PM

NYRA sued by food truck owners over Saratoga ejection


The owners of a food truck who were ejected from the grounds of Saratoga Race Course because of a racially tinged term in the food truck’s name have filed a federal lawsuit against the New York Racing Association alleging a violation of First Amendment rights.

Andrea Loguidice and Brandon Snooks, the owner of a food truck called the Wandering Dago, contend that their business was ordered off of Saratoga’s property on July 19, opening day of the summer meet, because of pressure from state officials. The lawsuit names two NYRA officials, chief executive Chris Kay and vice president Stephen Travers, as well as five unnamed state officials.

“The NYRA defendants knowingly and willfully engaged in content-based and viewpoint-based restrictions of speech and, thus, knowingly and willfully denied, deprived, and/or violated plaintiff’s civil rights and liberties and constitutional rights, privileges, and immunities,” states the suit.

The suit states that NYRA officials informed Loguidice and Snooks that NYRA had received “numerous complaints” about the term “dago” in the name of the food truck. The suit further states that the couple does not believe that any complaints were actually sent to NYRA, but that state officials who barred the truck from operating at a government property earlier this year had ordered the truck removed from Saratoga.

Eric Wing, a spokesperson for NYRA, said the association would have no comment on the suit.

Saratoga is operated by the New York Racing Association, a not-for-profit quasi-state agency. The deeds to the three tracks it operates are held by the state, and its board is comprised of a majority of individuals appointed by state officials.