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John Pricci

HorseRaceInsider.com executive editor John Pricci has over three decades of experience as a thoroughbred racing public handicapper and was an award-winning journalist while at New York Newsday for 18 years.

John has covered 14 Kentucky Derbies and Preaknesses, all but three Breeders' Cups since its inception in 1984, and has seen all but two Belmont Stakes live since 1969.

Currently John is a contributing racing writer to MSNBC.com, an analyst on the Capital Off-Track Betting television network, and co-hosts numerous handicapping seminars. He resides in Saratoga Springs, New York.

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Sunday, September 09, 2012


Everything Old Is New Again


Saratoga Springs, September 9, 2012—Loyal New York Racing Association fans and bettors downstate that lacked the opportunity or the wherewithal to travel north, did much of their betting at the Aqueduct and Belmont simulcasts.

This alternative is popular as handle figures at both locations was up significantly at both venues even if at one of them, Aqueduct, horseplayers were treated like second-class citizens.

Regular HRI contributor Framarco was one of those individuals who asked if I could look into “a little problem.” The best I can do, sir, is to shine some light on it to that members of the old NYRA management teams and new NYRA management—where there finally is one in place—can correct this problem.

The situation about which the reader speaks is unconscionable and it is hoped that a) this was an aberration; b) not indicative of the present relationship; c) a promise of more inexcusable behavior to come; d) it is fixable or e) nobody really cares.

Because if anyone really cared, whether it be NYRA management or New York State, which thus far has shown no support for the racing industry and, frankly, no overt interest:

“…I ask you to look into a little problem that I encountered at the Big A simulcasts of Saratoga. Since the simulcast center is brutally hot and crowded (the second and third floors are currently off-limits due to asbestos abatement), I ventured into the casino for air conditioning and food…

“While I ate my Wolfgang Puck pizza, I logged into my NYRA rewards account through the free Genting Wi-Fi, on my I-phone. Since Genting refuses to show the NYRA feed on any of its hundreds of TVs, I attempted to watch the next race through the Rewards video feed…

“Guess what, Genting BLOCKS the NYRA signal through its Wifi. I had to disconnect the WIFI and use my 3G data signal to watch the next Saratoga race from my Wolfgang Puck seat. Is that ridiculous…?

“What happened to cooperation between Genting and NYRA. If Prince Andrew wants to run NYRA, how about forcing Genting to show the NYRA signal in the casino?”

Added Framarco: “By the way, near the escalator on the now abandoned second floor of the old Aqueduct clubhouse are three depictions of what must be someone’s delusional version of a “new” Aqueduct simulcast center. It reminded me of the infomercial showing a lake in Tennessee and offering “prime” lots near the lake. I doubt that anything will ever be built either by [that] lake or at the Big A.”

I visited the casino at Aqueduct late last year and was impressed that you could walk from the casino floor right out to the racetrack and watch the races from a deck that afforded a great view of the oval.

There was also a promise that after table games were installed skybox-type viewing areas would overlook the track. But Framarco’s example makes one question whether the Aqueduct casino and racing can coexist as planned.

If the demonstration afforded by one of our readers is an example that portends the future, then racing in this state indeed might be in trouble.

Are the present and/or future NYRA, its horsemen, and New York State prepared to do anything to help insure that past promises and agreements are kept in place?

This one small reader’s example is an indication of what could happen, how racing can be marginalized in New York, piece by little piece. Somebody needs to step up, sack up, for the racing fan and betting customer.

Be Careful Out There

New York racing was back downstate at Belmont Park yesterday and the overwhelming element I took from opening day is to be careful the first few days.

For wise guys, the early days of any race meet are normally a time to make hay before overall trends become apparent to the crowd. But for many of the jockeys it’s going to be an adjustment period in the return to Big Sandy, with the accent on big.

Saturday night’s rains actually might be a blessing as the opening day track appeared especially cuppy. Nothing tightens a cuppy track like water and lots of it.

What the riders need to remember is that for all intents, the Belmont “balcony” move is dead, meaning the best way to ride this track is from the inside out when traversing the far turn. If the rider makes the wide sweep, he had better be on the best horse.

In the interim, bettors should tread carefully.

Written by John Pricci

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