In Cuomo NYRA Chess Match, a Checkmate Dead-Heat
ELMONT, NY, June 28, 2016 – Governor Andrew Cuomo played his cards face up before the game even started and when he did, everyone else folded their hand.
His first card, played in April, was a request that the New York Racing Association seal its own fate by including option three in its request for privatization.
Option three gave Cuomo another year to control the New York Racing Association and, when the state legislature adjourned last week, that's just what happened.
It’s fair to say that the legislature tried to return the franchise to NYRA, but Cuomo wouldn't have any of that. The one-year extension was contained in an omnibus bill passed at the very end of the session and signed into law on June 23.
Cuomo played his second card earlier this month when New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released an audit of NYRA, claiming that NYRA's figures didn't match up with the figures obtained using his own accounting methods.
NYRA quickly replied to defend their numbers, however, the underlying message from DiNapoli wasn't in those numbers; it was in the words. DiNapoli criticized NYRA for not having a long term plan.
HRI called for this in April when NYRA presented a plan to essentially reshuffle the chairs in the boardroom. There was no business plan, no financial projections, no statement of attainable goals, in effect, nothing. They're smart people, so why don't they get it?
Belmont 148 Redux: Big Doings at Big Sandy
ELMONT, NY, June 14, 2016 - The New York Racing Association reported that attendance for Belmont Stakes Day was 60,114.
“And one rabbit,” tweeted Todd Pletcher.
It was gracious of Pletcher after the Steve Asmussen-trained Creator beat his horse, Destin, by a nose in the final jump of 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes. But what could he say other than that?
Of course, Pletcher also trains horses for Creator's owner, WinStar Farm, and they've run rabbits for him, too. And it was WinStar that provided the seven-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer with his first Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver.
Then turn-about is fair play, isn’t it: In the 2007 Belmont Stakes, Asmussen's Curlin was beaten a head by Pletcher's filly, Rags to Riches.
Asmussen, who will be inducted into The National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame this August in Saratoga Springs, put an exclamation point on that honor by saddling his first Belmont Stakes winner.
Ironically, strategically, the rabbit Gettysburg was moved from Pletcher’s barn to Asmussen's for a Belmont run to insure a more honest pace. It was certainly a circuitous way to get Creator into the winner's circle, a trip that brought celebrity chef Bobby Flay along for the ride.
The Food Network star and NYRA board member bought into the WinStar colt on Wednesday three days prior to the race to impress his new “friend.” Flay was on the other end of Creator's lead shank after the race; his friend had to be duly impressed.
However, this barn switch maneuver raises the question of optics, especially for casual fans. Was this the horse racing version of insider trading?