Now, suppose that the franchise is granted to an entity other than the New York Racing Association and a judge determines that the real estate at the tracks in question belongs to the state. NYRA, of course appeals.
Suddenly, the slate is clean. The present and future is no longer a continuation of what is a rich history.
It has never been discussed in great detail, but were NYRA forced out of existence the names of the racetracks themselves and those of every race run at these three racetracks, many more than a century-old, would also cease to exist.
If at some point in the dim future the Supreme Court of the United States agrees eventually to decide the issue and every decision were to go against NYRA, the Belmont Stakes would cease to exist as would the name Belmont Park, since all three tracks would be suddenly nameless. There would no longer be a Wood Memorial, a Metropolitan Handicap, a Jockey Club Gold Cup, a Whitney Handicap, a Travers, Alabama, Woodward, Champagne, Mother Goose, Coaching Club Oaks or even a Cigar Mile.
Racing would resume within a matter of several years. By that time, the center of Eastern racing would be somewhere in the Mid-Atlantic, Pimlico, perhaps, the breeding industry in New York would be a memory, the long-scarred upstate economic landscape dotted by abandon and overgrown farms where once broodmares and foals grazed. The tracks themselves, dark while the due process of litigation and appeal ground forward at the usual snail’s pace, would eventually be reopened with new names – Elmont Park? Union Avenue Downs? Ozone Park?
Years of video lottery terminal revenue held since 2009, when a casino was opened at the former Aqueduct, for purses would lure owners back to New York and the new proprietor, the Shinnecock Indian Nation, would fashion a stakes schedule entirely of inaugurals without grade or history.
By then, Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Sen. Joe Bruno would have long-ago returned to the private sector and no one would really remember what started this mess in the first place. Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York, will have been elected president, having run on his greatest accomplishments, congestion pricing and purging the city of off-track betting. The state’s five OTB entities located outside the city would have long ago gone bankrupt.
Re-opening day at Elmont Park would draw a crowd of 120,000 – everyone who still remembers racing, the average age 78 – would mirror the original early May 1905 opening and the VLT Handicap would replace the Met Mile. Most of the horses entered have been running at Presque Isle Downs, It is won by a 20-1 longshot trained by Allen Jerkens.