The very heartbeat of American racing resounds loudest in New York. It has always been the bellwether, the glamour spot for the racing of Thoroughbred horses. Therefore, how shocking it is that there is frightening arrhythmia in that heartbeat today. Who would ever have dreamed that the New York Racing Association (NYRA) would entertain and enter into bankruptcy? Perhaps this embattled racing circuit of Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct is reaping today that which was sown years ago by the captains of industry – that have always been the NYRA Trustees.
I have great empathy for the New York Racing Association. Perhaps mistakes have been made, but it is guided today by good men. Charlie Hayward, Bill Nader and Steve Duncker are able, high-class, battle-hardened executives – leaders who have shown astonishing resilience and stick-to-itiveness in the face of staggering haymakers dealt by legislators and politicians.
Some of the machinations of politicians and those who pay off politicians have been infuriatingly frustrating. The State of New York and the sport of Thoroughbred racing have been deprived of millions in revenue and racing purses by the ludicrous delays in establishing slot machines at Aqueduct. It would be impossible to chronicle the devious, torturous steps in that sorry saga of political maneuverings. Some fine people and impressive organizations are involved in competing groups seeking the franchise for New York racing next year. There is much to be said for them, but there is much to be said for NYRA, and until they are kicked out – if indeed they will be – I think they deserve courteous treatment by the horsemen who are housed on their grounds and participate in a quest for their purses, and the State of New York.
Our entire industry should be keenly interested in the support of the delicate, crucial structure of New York racing. We would be in sad shape if that pinnacle of Thoroughbred horse racing deteriorates much further.
One would hope those seeking this vital franchise would play fair in the meantime.
This is not necessarily an endorsement of NYRA by this insignificant player – although I have a warm feeling for this venerable New York racing jurisdiction. It is an endorsement for the elimination of political foul deeds resulting in injustice to the state coffers, to the racing association trying to conduct racing, and the horsemen trying to break even in a game where the hope of financial return is already badly stacked against us.
This is Cot Campbell and this is my view.