Vic Zast

From the perspective of being an owner, an industry pioneer in corporate sponsorship, a track president and fan, Vic Zast writes the "Destinations" column for The Blood-Horse. His five-star ratings of international events have shed light on racing in all corners of the globe - from England, Australia, Hong Kong, Dubai to Japan.

Vic is a regular contributor to MSNBC.com, a columnist for the Illinois Racing News and has written on racing for ESPN.com, National Public radio and The Age, Australia's leading daily.

Vic makes his home in Chicago and lives in Saratoga Springs in August.

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Monday, June 14, 2010


Kevin A. Burke’s “Comment of the Week”


The following is a complete reading of the comment submitted by Kevin A. Burke to last week's column. You can read all the comments written last week by accessing "Counting on a Skyscraper, the Belmont Comes Up Short" under the section titled "Most recent entries" at the right-hand side of any of Vic Zast's columns.

There are some changes that need to be addressed by NYRA before the next Triple Crown Series / Belmont Stakes is upon us:

# 1- Eliminate the Detention Barn.
Trainer Nick Zito stated after the race;
“He (Ice Box) was ready to go the last couple of days. But I guess he left his race somewhere”.

Mr. Zito is to politically astute to risk retribution from NYRA in placing blame on the prop they have in place, (the Detention Barn). He also has the class to not offer up excuses after
a race. His meaning though is obvious. The truth of the issue is that Ice Box was not the only horse on this day that left his race in the Detention Barn, affected adversely by this singular institution invented by NYRA.

The Detention Barn does nothing but harm to the horse. It does serve as a SOP to the uninformed that NYRA is proactive in controlling prerace drug abuse and/or prohibited actions by stable personnel. It does not work, post race Testing Barn Yes, Detention Barn No.

It is a very lucrative deal for the track vet. Only the track vet administers Lasix, (.85 cents worth of drug, at $20.00 a pop). You will never have the track vet complain about the extreme heat & humidity, the dusty bedding, the constant confusion and noise in strange surroundings, the repeated use of stalls by different horses every day, etc. All this and more is endured by the horse for six or more hours prior to race.

Much has been made of the fact that Drosselmyer and Fly Down had a race over the track which benefited both horses. I do not dispute that it was a help, even though the Big Sandy was a different track on these race days. The real advantage given to the horses was that both had to suffer the detention barn previously, and therefore were familiar with all it’s absurdity.

# 2- NYRA must join with Pimlico and Churchill in finding a sponsor for the Triple Crown Series. A monetary reward based on participation and placement in each of these races must be offered as an enticement for horses to compete in all three races. This is a Series. There might not be a Triple Crown Winner each year, but there can be a Series Win, Place, Show, Participation, reward.

# 3- Again NYRA, Pimlico, and Churchill must find one broadcast distribution outlet for the series. Continuity is important. They each have there race, but without the other, that is all they have, a race. Together is the series, and that is what gives it the importance. My suggestion is to just each split 33% apiece each race day, or 50% for the Race Day Track and 25% for the other two. (33% is the fairer deal to all).

# 4- NYRA needs to find a Theme Song that relates to the Belmont Stakes Day Experience. The publicity department must go to work on this now. They experimented, it didn’t work, fine. At least there was effort shown. Now go back to the drawing board, the idea was right, the result was wrong. Do not give up the idea, just find a solution that does work. There is a song out there.

Suggestion: A contest on original submissions might work. (It would draw attention both inside and outside the racing world). A music committee
could pick the top three to five songs which would then be placed on the NYRA website. Then
let the people vote. (Have some of the American Idol Winners Record and Sing the demonstration songs). Talk about generating some positive publicity. Hey, all of this could even help expand the fan base, it will not detract.

Well, there is my two cents for the moment, as always, enjoy your writing, thank you for enduring my own.



Written by Vic Zast

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