ANDREW M. CUOMO, A NATION TURNS ITS ANXIOUS EYES TO YOU

This isn’t about politics. Neither is it about ideology This is not a left vs. right, liberals vs. conservatives argument. This is about the planet we live on, the country we live in, the world in which we all labor and play.

Anyone who has read our coverage of the Rick Dutrow case dating back to 2015 knows that I’m not a big fan of the Governor of New York State.

I lived in Saratoga 12 years. I know people who work or used to work “on the second floor’ of the State Capitol building in Albany. Lets’ just say he wasn’t the easiest person to deal with, unless it was in his self-interest. Then that’s hearsay–anecdotal evidence Dr. Fauci would call it.

I have never met the Governor in person. I was a big fan of his father as eloquence always wins the day with me. I know, too, that he was imperfect, a trait we all share.

As a lover of a game that has given me a living, a lifestyle, a life, my problem with The Governors Cuomo is the problem they have with horse racing because on that issue, the apple fell right on top of the root of that tree.

Mario Cuomo hated horse racing because when he was growing he saw too many examples of how betting on horses with the local bookmaker drove families apart. At least that’s what one of his sports mentors, the late Mike Lee, Sports Editor of the Long Island Press, told me back in the day.

But at least he showed up on Belmont Day, and occasionally at Saratoga if no other reason that Thoroughbred racing at New York Racing Association tracks helped fill state coffers.. Whenever he was introduced to the crowd, booing would ensue–and that was before hate rallies were commonplace.

Andrew Cuomo, to my knowledge, never has supported the Belmont Stakes the way the Governors of Kentucky and Maryland have supported their Triple Crown events.

Upstate and downstate New York are worlds apart philosophically, but the Saratoga racing community doesn’t care much for the Governor either. This is still America–at least for now–so that’s OK.

My issue with Andrew Cuomo is that he’s a compassionate man but apparently only when it suits him. In the name of reform and prior to his most recent bid for reelection, Governor Cuomo created a program to help more prisoners apply for clemency in his state.

But according to an NBC news report aired in November, 2019, it appears the initiative has stalled to the point of stop, and the Governor’s office had declined to explain why.

In Dutrow’s case, 2,500 industry stakeholders and members of the sports community signed a petition which did not call for relitigating the case, only that an unprecedented 10-year revocation be reduced to time served, seven years this past January.

Indeed, trainer Dale Romans, at his personal expense, flew to New York to attend a fund raiser hosted by a Cuomo supporter in the run-up to the gubernatorial election to speak with the Governor, briefly providing details of the case which he did, but to no avail.

Parenthetically, the Queens District Attorney’s office is currently looking into the matter based on new evidence re serious allegations of wrongdoing by a state actor, in addition to civil rights violations, which occurred during the New York State Administrative Hearing at which the ban was imposed.

But following his daily briefing yesterday, I thanked God for Andrew Cuomo–for his intellect, leadership skills and, most of all, his humanity.

His Covid-19 seminars and his approach to handling the crisis in what has become the epicenter of the outbreak is reassuring, knowing that at least one person on the frontlines is giving it to me straight, what’s happening on the ground, information I need to stay alive based on facts.

What Cuomo didn’t say is it would be over soon, that it was the same as the flu, or that anyone who needed a test would get one, that a vaccine is very close to reality, or that the outbreak would over by April.

Cuomo never said that it would go away like a miracle, that the risk of contracting the virus remains low, that the problem was attacked early, the situation well in control, that anyone who went through the process would be fine.

Whatever his shortcomings, whatever his failings, whatever his broken promises, whatever his foibles, I wished he were speaking for an entire country instead of just the state in which I was born and will forever be a part of me. But at least someone was leading by example.

Of course, there is a long way to go and no one knows when or how the situation will end ultimately. But we can and will overcome, if we follow guidance based on facts from elected officials who know how to lead.

Until then, we can be comforted by another line from the Simon and Garfunkel classic, Mrs. Robinson. that “heaven holds a place for those who pray.”

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14 Responses

  1. I agree amost 100%, save the ‘eloquence always makes the day’ portion of your article. My opinion, per favore: On an overall score as governor, Andrew is a self-aggrandizing control freak ala Eliot Spitzer that has, by his disinterest and disdain, encumbered NY horse racing by taking steps (ie: casino licensees) that seemed intentional and borderline illegal. His incredibe ‘shift left’ after year 2 of his term(s) in office, leaves one scratching their head.
    That said, he has mightily risen to the occasion at this time of national and state need. His tone and fireside style warmth exuded his roots and Matilda’s influence. I knew Matilda and worked with her in the 80’s and 90’s. An earnest and compassionate human being, who today must be very proud of her son. Pay attention, Mr Biden!

  2. Good job, Sonny. I know from which you speak. I chose to use one example that came from my experience. I commend your openness and praise for a man with whom you have legitimate differences. The column was simply my nod to a reality that colors all my thinking these days. Of course, I am not alone in that.

    For the time being, following horse racing and handicapping is an entertaining distraction from the horrors what we, as a nation and as citizens of a smaller-by-the-minute world, are forced to endure. Now is the time for all political animals in Washington to do the jobs for which they were elected as our representatives.

    From both parties, I expect–demand–transparent accountability: Support the industries most effected, those that support the most jobs, and not one cent of largess to extremely well paid corporate executives, including a provision that, in time, the subsidized industries shall pay back the debt on loan from all tax-paying citizens fortunate enough to have a job.

  3. John: The Andrew “Dilemma” as I call it is very complicated. You have done a good job of laying out the pros and cons of Andrew’s reign.
    There is no question that he is Mario’s son. However, he can never match his father’s brilliance or temperament. That said, I have no doubt that, on his deathbed, Mario reminded his son to never stop hating NYRA and the racing industry in NY. I accept that Mario hated racing due to the ills caused by problem gambling. However, I also think that Mario’s hatred for NYRA was stoked by the then Republican blue-bloods that controlled NYRA in the 70s and 80s. The Phippses and Whitneys, et al., were certainly not his kind of people.
    Anyway, with all that being said, we can give Andrew his due. He is certainly infinitely better than the current mayor of NY, who I would not trust under any circumstances. He is also trying to make nice with POTUS, another New Yorker who does not like to work with others.
    Nevertheless, Andrew has two stains on his record that I cannot forget. He was the inspiration, if not the author, of the horrific ad that ran against Ed Koch in the governor’s race against his father-vote for Cuomo, not the H***( letters left out)_; and the racist statements that he made against Carl McCall when they ran against each other for governor. As you note, its not easy to support Andrew but he is deserving of credit for his leadership in this awful time.

    1. Fram, that was my intent, simply to give credit where it’s due at a time that of unprecedented, mortal danger, certainly in our lifetime if not in the nation’s history.

      I have no wish to be dramatic, but the reality of this horror has been uppermost in my mind as I’m sure it’s in everyone’s. My business comes with a built-in spin detector and he is the only public official that has addressed the situation on a reasoned macro level, allowing me to think there may be hope for all of us, now and in the future.

      Appreciate your input Fram…

  4. John,  This seems an appropriate place to two add commentary on two previously posted comments on the HRI boards that concerned me of late.  

    The first commentary that struck me well worthy of comment:

    (Pricci)  “My play has decreased for about the past 18 months because I have never had suffered through such a protracted losing streak. I have told my gambling buddies, inquiring minds, and have written here, it’s not horse racing any longer, it’s jockey and trainer racing with stats replacing running lines.

    As the late, great Paul Moran wrote years ago, and has been repeated here, the name of the attending veterinarian should be on the PPs owned by Equibase, and printed in official track programs. Like equipment changes, it should be included on the trainer’s card at time of entry.”

    My take is that I suspect your handicapping returns John have been greatly diminished mostly due to insane quantity of medications that have been deployed in the modern era.  Let’s just say how it really is, most horses are now race day drugged.  The body of work over your long career cannot be refuted however  Your “protracted losing streak” is in fact well captured and reinforced by the many trainers, journalists, trainers, and countless other horseman of note, now found exiting or considering exiting the sport.  I could go on and on, but in summary, I have always trusted you and admired your contributions to the sport over your career. Thank you for your service. Indeed.

    The second commentary of note that is quoted below is much less worthy of response, but the Irish in me simply can’t allow it to stand.  Initially, the “colors all my thinking” were all shaded red.  I stepped away, and now am back at the keyboard.  I really needed a timeout to regroup my thoughts.  I always viewed myself as a logical minded centrist type who would consider first what was the best course to address for “the greater good” of our country.  I used to joke in saying, “I register independent, and vote anti-incumbent.”  “My reasons being to keep the water in the toilet on a constant flush.” Still believe our best hope is to be found in term limits, either party. 

    Any hoot, I am a Vet who served my country from ’68 to ’71.  Enough said on that.  I volunteered and worked through two World Trade Center area recoveries.  I stepped over the shoulders of both ATF and FBI guys collecting evidence, t-square photo copying everything, picturing, sweeping and bagging debris in the crated floors below the Vista Hotel.  We at the same time at Verizon were setting up a command center for essential services and 911 communications. That was how the van carrying the bomb was identified by the way. All those meticulous pictures.  A fragment of the axle identification number led to the capture of the terrorists involved in first attack. All within hours. Amazing! Years later, I volunteered again and was back into the same footprint for the second attack.  Spent many months dusting “snow” off my jacket at the corners of West and Vesey Streets, aka Ground Zero.  Only thing, it wasn’t snow. We all knew what it was but sometimes with Americans we all gotta do what we all gotta do.  My point in all this I guess is to say that this is not a time for the nonsense posted below. 

    We all need to listen to the guidance of the real leaders stepping up from day one to get through all this.  So wish I could run towards the issues, but at this dance, I realize I can’t.  At an age just shy of 72, I would only be adding to the risk that so needs containment.  Sadly I can’t even donate a pint of blood.   Something about immunity issues with the damned daily “race day” medications they now have me on.  The best I can do at this point, is stay positive, keep the distance at sick feet, and say hello to all my neighbors and community, including those that I do not even know. 
    Lastly a comment from an ICU nurse, “Please stay home for me, as I go to work to protect you.”  Peace and Good Health to all, and let’s collectively overcome the negativity like posted directly below.

     
    (The second comment I am leaving as an unnamed source intentionally.) “My take is that I suspect your handicapping returns have been greatly diminished mostly due to all the medications that have been deployed in the modern era.  Your body of work cannot be refuted.  Similarly, it is reinforced by many trainers, journalists like Mark Berner, and countless other horseman of note exiting the sport.  I could go on and on, but in summary I have always trusted and admired your contributions to the sport.

    My take on the whole thing is a little different. If somebody wants to shut down racing, they missed the boat. It is Spring. Have any of you degenerates ever heard of the theory of survival of the fittest? Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH, spent all that money to get his doctorate, only to spend his 15 minutes of fame telling us how to wash our hands. Get the frig out of here. Cancel the Derby? Even if we have to climb over bodies (literally) to get to the window, no such thing should ever happen. The cat is out of the bag. There is no stopping whatever it is they have created. They created it, now we must live with it. All these leftist agendas giving the illusion they are trying to slow it down, are all pointless, because that is all it will do, slow it down. Let’s get it over with and see who is left standing.

    Instead of shutting down, tracks should reduce takeout significantly for off-track wagers to induce people to wager at home, and add to that give us the breakage you have been stealing for years.

    And remember, dirty hands made this country great. Dirty is good.

  5. McD, I have no comment for your sweeping editorial. It is powerful, if a bit fatalistic for a man of great faith such as yourself.

    You have been (wrongly) chided on this site for having the temerity to believe in God. I respect all and any people who are agnostic or atheistic or practice their religion. It is a free country and citizens are allowed to think what they wish. Church and state need to be separate as the framers reasoned.

    It makes me a bit sad when someone with your normally positive outlook looks inside his soul and cannot find a reason to smile.

    As I answer this it’s nearly 9 pm and my father always told me that things will look better in the morning. For the most part, I found that to be true. Of course, there’s never been a time like this.

    Keep the faith McD, will be thinking of you, and all my friends in New York…

  6. John, I want to clarify a cut and paste error that occured when my computer kept crashing while I was trying to post earlier. I suspect a defective NIC card is the problem, but little I can do about it right now. I tried a work around by cut and pasting off of a gmail draft page, which I knew would be saved even when the PC was crashing. I screwed up however, when I cut and pasted to this HRI page however. The negative comments I re-posted were not mine. I am not fatalistic, but seriously concerned and prayerful for all. I was only commenting on another reader’s extremely negative reply previously posted that I found offensive.on another HRI page. I am not negative nor fatalistic, but actually a prayerful realistic optimist. I have great faith we will get past this, and am simply praying for the best. Little else I can contribute. Just wishing our collective societal response would be shared more quickly by all. Especially the young. Get off the beaches already. Like now please. All good with separation of church and state as well. There’s room in the world for all of us. Peace Out. Amen Brother.

    The comment below was written by another reader who I chose to leave as an unnamed intentionally. Offensive and Absurd.
    ***************************************************************************************************

    “My take on the whole thing is a little different. If somebody wants to shut down racing, they missed the boat. It is Spring. Have any of you degenerates ever heard of the theory of survival of the fittest? Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH, spent all that money to get his doctorate, only to spend his 15 minutes of fame telling us how to wash our hands. Get the frig out of here. Cancel the Derby? Even if we have to climb over bodies (literally) to get to the window, no such thing should ever happen. The cat is out of the bag. There is no stopping whatever it is they have created. They created it, now we must live with it. All these leftist agendas giving the illusion they are trying to slow it down, are all pointless, because that is all it will do, slow it down. Let’s get it over with and see who is left standing.

    Instead of shutting down, tracks should reduce takeout significantly for off-track wagers to induce people to wager at home, and add to that give us the breakage you have been stealing for years.

    And remember, dirty hands made this country great. Dirty is good.”

    1. I’m very relieved to read this, McD. I know you to be prayerful and hopeful, and it just didn’t sound like you–the only time I was right the entire weekend!

      Young people believe they are “indestructable,” which leads to selfishness and arrogance. Yes, if they are smart enough to go the college they are smart enough to know better. They didn’t think think when they do get home they can endanger their family members, meaning any and every one of us.

      But in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis must share some of the blame by not ordering beaches closed. Fortunately, the Mayor of Miami didn’t wait to close beaches and hotels, but he is immunizing himself, so…

  7. JP–
    I believe you have done an excellent job summarizing the views of so many of us who have seen Andrew Cuomo’s warts from being up close here in Albany. You are spot on to point out how Cuomo suddenly had religion on the issue of clemency shortly before his most recent re-election and dropped it like a lead balloon thereafter. And Cuomo did the same with his “Women’s Agenda” that he launched shortly before his second re-election and forgot about immediately thereafter.

    And yet for all of Cuomo’s glaring imperfections, it is impossible for even his most vocal critics not to be impressed with the way he has conducted himself in the face of the coronavirus crisis. Winston Churchill would certainly call it Andrew Cuomo’s “finest hour”. Thank goodness for his resolute leadership skills, and here’s hoping those qualities become contagious both in NYC and in Washington!

    As an aside, I know it cannot have been easy for an Italian American governor to call for closure of the barbershops in NY, and I hope that he doesn’t get a nick in his ear the next time he visits his barber. It will be interesting to see if Cuomo leads by example and winds up sporting a shaggier look along with the rest of us in the next few weeks, or if he remains a well coiffed politician. I am thinking one of the Governor’s daughters may be assigned the duty of tending to his wavy locks, but perhaps his friend Bill Clinton could be called upon since he has considerable expertise in splitting hairs!

    Chuck from Saratoga

    1. Splitting hairs? Perhaps not as funny as an FBI Tipsheet, but pretty damn close.

      Thank God I have Toni, who went from photographer to barber during the crisis. Problem is there’s nowhere I can go to show everyone how handsome she made me. (Though there is this woman behind the Italian Deli counter from whom I get unusually warm hellos–but let’s keep that between us…

      And you stroke another chord. My father’s father, who passed before I had a chance to meet him, was a barber and his family lived behind the shop just down the hall.

      Eventually, he bought the building and many of my aunts and uncles lived in that same house in Long Island City.

  8. As long as we taking a time out with a light hearted exchange, I’ll add a post my son’s would be sure to cringe upon hearing. Dad’s Corn they call it. Pretty bad I agree, but part of my DNA I guess. Here goes:

    I just returned from the local UPS store as I needed to send an N95 protective mask and gloves to a close friend of my wife’s who is now just entering into chemo treatments. The last name on the address I was sending to had quite a run of vowels in at, but I added to the store manager that I can go head to head with most any Italian. O L D M C D O N A L D E I E I O.

  9. JP,
    “Horseplayer Heaven” holds a place for those who play. Hay Hay Hay.

    Mrs. Robinson would likely have been a “Sheets” player.

    McD,
    T’is a Godless game of guile and gross negligence in whose grip too many grovel at the foot of greed.

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