Albany, NY--Yesterday at a press conference to introduce the 2007 Saratoga racing season, the New York Racing Association might have held its last as stewards of thoroughbred racing in New York State. Certainly, it was the finale under the status it currently enjoys, and has since 1955.

The elephant in the room was addressed immediately in media questions to president Charlie Hayward, who made it clear he wasnt speaking for the NYRA Board of Trustees. He said that, like most observers, he didnt know how the franchise scenario would play out but was optimistic that separation of racing from gaming could work if racing received its fair share of VLT revenue.

On matters pertaining to the sport, racing secretary P J Campo said he saw no incentive to write special conditions or bonuses into existing races that would provide impetus for fillies to take on males more regularly. He also stated that the weight allowances afforded to fillies when meeting males literally would tip the scales so dramatically that jockeys would be unable to make weight routinely at the lower imposts.

So much for outside the box speculation.

After Hayward was reminded that a new wager, the Grand Slam, debuted at Saratoga last year, he was asked whether any new bets, or a variation on existing wagers, such as the very popular 10-cent superfecta, would be introduced at the upcoming meet, July 25th.

Hayward stated correctly that new wagers require Racing and Wagering Board approval and that incremental wagering was not popular among NYRAs biggest bettors (because their bankrolls give them a substantial edge over smaller players). He also stated handle did not rise significantly at tracks where incremental wagers like the 10-cent super, 50-cent trifecta, or $1 Pick Six were introduced.

Of course, all that missed the point. Incremental wagering, eventually, would drive handle by getting more people involved; big bettors--those not betting with rebate shops on their cell phones--would still be able to use their bankrolls to best advantage and, as long as integrity of wagers are not compromised, the SRWB should not legislate how adult horseplayers bet their money.

Sadly it was more of the same from track executives; quick to deliver reasons why things cant be done instead of imagining how they might work. And, incidentally, the Grand Slam didnt hit one out of the park, either.