10/21/2013 2:45PM

Panza brings experience, ideas to New York Racing Association


While saying he will continue the New York Racing Association’s commitment to the state’s breeding program, Martin Panza, newly hired senior vice president of racing operations, hopes to reach outside U.S. borders to make NYRA more appealing to international interests.

On Sunday, Panza, 50, was officially named as NYRA’s senior vice president for racing operations, a newly created position. Among his jobs will be to oversee the racing office, which is currently led by racing secretary P.J. Campo.

Panza, who will start at NYRA the final week of November, comes from Betfair Hollywood Park where he has spent the last two decades as its vice president of racing and racing secretary.

Betfair Hollywood Park will hold its final meet this fall before closing for good. Panza chose to come to NYRA despite being courted by several other tracks, including Santa Anita.

“I think I can come there and help and bring some new ideas to the table,” Panza said by phone. “With the purse money available, there are some ways to make things go a little bit smoother and improve.”

Panza said he will try to retain a commitment to the condition book. Currently, a NYRA card consists of races from the condition book as well as races listed on an overnight sheet, known as extras, most of which are book races that didn’t fill for its scheduled day.

“If you make your book it brings a lot of integrity to the whole process,” Panza said. “Here’s your condition book, here are your races, pick your races and enter in it.”

Panza said he understands the need for a strong statebred program and hopes to help encourage the continued growth of the New York breeding program, which has begun to grow following the opening two years ago this week of the Resorts World casino at Aqueduct.

“I’m a firm believer in the breeding program,” Panza said. “I think it does multiple things. First of all, it creates jobs in the state of New York; that’s very important. It also creates horse inventory for the state of New York. Certainly, I know New York-breds race in other states. You’d like to present a strong program for them to stay in the state.”

One of Panza’s top accomplishments in California was the creation of the American Oaks, which began as a rich turf race for 3-year-old fillies that drew horses from around the world. Panza sees the opportunity to create similar events at NYRA.

“Should we run 10 overnight stakes at $100,000 each and an average field size of six horses or a $1 million race and make it an international event with 12 or 13 horses, five or six horses from around the world?” Panza said. “It becomes newsworthy, it becomes interesting. I like watching races. I want to go work and say ‘Hey, we got a Japanese horse, two horses from England, two horses from France.’ That’s a race I want to see today.”

Panza said that NYRA’s three tracks – Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga – need to be treated differently.

“It almost needs to be three different business plans,” Panza said. “What works at Saratoga doesn’t work at Belmont and Aqueduct, and what works at Aqueduct may not work for Belmont. You got to work each facility – what are we trying to accomplish at each facility? – and treat them a little bit different. That’s a challenge.”

It’s a challenge those that hired Panza are confident he can meet.

“Martin is a proven leader with more than 25 years’ experience,” David Skorton, chair of the NYRA Reorganization Board, said in a press release. “He will work very effectively with the other skilled executives currently in place at NYRA. The organization is moving in the right direction.”

Forego137 More than 1 year ago
Not sure Panza is the guy NY believes he is, all the years at Hollywood and all they got were 4-5 horse fields and lets not forget the stakes races, they attracted no-one from out of state or the country for years now. Panzas ideas didn't work at Hollywood Park so what makes NY think his ideas will work for them. Now I know why NY racing got screwed up, its these type of decisions.
Tee Jay More than 1 year ago
What? This is site is done did. Who's gonna pay to read some greehorn's embelleshed comments? I use my money to bet and not pay to read what some mooch who never ever got horse dung stuck to his heels writes. What a crock....bye bye DRF...Equibase has the market share you money grubbers. The Bloodhorse website puts this garbage to shame.
Jeff More than 1 year ago
from my conversations with him,not exactly "gambler friendly".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exactly what the NYRA needs. Someone who for 20 years help run Hollywood Park into the ground. Imagine how his resume reads: took a viable racing operation and over tweny years help manage it into closing down completely! I can not believe the NYRA made such a terrible decision. Looks like David Skorton needs his head examined. What an incredible mistake.
soroka More than 1 year ago
What a bunch of total bull. NOBODY came up with any hail mary to save Hollywood. A pick six is still two bucks minimum, to park and get into Hollywood was 15 or twenty bucks. Whoppdeedoo, the line to continue the now iconic American Oaks is is is is where ? Another delusional racing exec. The coverage in NY of an international race might rival the Joe Hirsch or Sword Dancer. Pitiful sad and pathetic. Same cast of characters doing the same thing that got us here. I have an idea......let's market to the young people ! Make a day at Aqueduct like a day at Six Flags.
jusonemoretweet More than 1 year ago
California racing is imploding. I don't think he had a choice.
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Russell More than 1 year ago
The only thing that could have saved Hollywood is slots. Mr. Panza had no part in their demise.
Harvey Savitsky More than 1 year ago
Eric Donovan?! Talkin' Horses! You know, you know, you know, you know -- 100's of times each show!! Horrible speaker.
Bugsy Anderson More than 1 year ago
Thats where I can get weed.
wolves More than 1 year ago
Donovan does fine....and what about Blewitt saying "listen" or "my friend" every other sentence.... or Serling saying "look" every 10 seconds or his whiny sounding "uh uh uh"?? Serling and Donovan do good work, but I noticed Blewitt is constantly parroting whatever Andy says/said. I bet he keeps a notebook of everything Serling says then brings it up as his own idea at another time.
Richard Land More than 1 year ago
New York breds are dandy, but maiden, claiming and allowance races RESTRICTED to New York breds will assure that day to day racing at NYRA will never be the best racing in North America, as it was for many decades. 1) The only restricted races should be stakes races. 2) In all other races, give NYBs a 3 pound weight allowance and a purse enhancement. There is a lot of room for improvement of the racing program under Mr. Panza, but not if a special interest group continues to mandate that approximately 30% of the races at NYRA are restricted. The value of the NY bred product will be enhanced as NY breds show that they are capable of competing with open competition at the top levels, such as Discreet Marq, Cluster of Stars and Dayatthespa have done this year.
Saratogafan More than 1 year ago
Well said, Richard. The way that incentives have been offered to NY breds has both created a menu of uninteresting, low level races that pollute NYRA cards and also incentivized the breeding of mediocre horses to compete for the inflated and segregated purse monies. Your point #2 would be a very powerful incentive to breed competitive horses if the purse enhancement was substantial, perhaps 20%. However, I doubt it will happen. The current owners of third rate broodmares and stallions would howl loudly to Albany. Our often corrupt and always inept NY state politicians would respond as they always have on matters affecting racing in NY.
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
Finger Lakes same problem albeit on a lower level scale. It looks like NY-bred purses were overpaid there as NY-bred allowance races there were cut about 20%.
wolves More than 1 year ago
Csun More than 1 year ago
Expect tons of fresh and original ideas to be suggested at NYRA. Check out everything that Panza single-handedly took care of during his tenure at BHP.This is from a Betfair Hollywood Park press release: "The racing secretary and vice president-racing at Hollywood Park since 1994, Panza introduced the popular American Oaks, a grassy Grade I for 3-year-old fillies run annually since 2002 during the Spring/Summer meet, was responsible for the creation of the $1 million guaranteed Pick Six in 1998 and several other innovations."
mikey More than 1 year ago
The p6 was never under the 1 million on the day's that it was offered.This guy never had an idea that was worth a dime.NYRA is not going to listen to him.A nother puppet of the GOV.