NYRA’s “Study”: Smoke and Mirrors

If there were any lingering questions about the utter fatuousness of the New York Racing Association’s (NYRA) justification for its latest welfare grab – a $455 million loan from the state to rebuild Belmont Park, with said loan to be repaid through the massive subsidization NYRA already receives – then a new New York Focus interview with the firm that authored the “study” NYRA has been citing (but until this week had refused to release in its entirety) is a must read.

Please read the full interview, as it’s not only worth it (not to mention entertaining), but it helps support (increasingly rare) good journalism. My personal favorite is an exchange on a “New Belmont” bringing the Breeders’ Cup (BC) back to NY. NYRA giddily talks of a spectator bump with the BC. Hardly mentioned, of course, is the BC rotates among several states, meaning it may only be at Belmont twice a decade

“NYF: You included the 120,000 per year projection in your study and said the Breeders’ Cup could bring those fans. Is that 120,000 a year number accurate if the Breeders’ Cup will only come twice a decade?

“SB: We did the projections of the Breeders’ Cup, Sam, to show what the full potential of a modernized facility at Belmont would look like. And again remember, these are projections of attendance. These are economic models, which are industry standard.”


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  1. Industry standard means b******* to put it bluntly. Who doesn’t like being given a snow job?! Who does not like being lied to? It’s a game… Who didn’t see the lies coming already?
    The Breeders’ Cup races are generally held in the cold weather months. October and November are usually actually cold in the northern part of the United States. Can you imagine the Breeders’ Cup races being held in the snow in New York? The spectators could be in the NYRA’s “wonderful new and awesome” indoor facility while Todd Pletcher trained horses could be suffering from broken bones out on the racetrack. Who would want to miss that? Who wouldn’t want to see the trainer make excuses and try to convince the public that as an “expert horsemen” he didn’t see that coming??? Oh, yeah, it was just a freak “accident” that almost never happens… Right… 🤑 Vomit-worthy and vile; this is the NYRA and all groups connected to horseracing masquerading as “horsemen” including the women. Who else read the article about Belinda Stronach and that she hates horses?

  2. That’s a real laugh; the consultant doesn’t know the numbers until the NYRA tells him the numbers. So basically, he is a paid puppet. What credibility! Ha!

  3. Lest we forget ….this yrs. Breeders Cup in Ky, was a friggin bloodbath. These dingbats need to be vomited on. The END

  4. It’s getting really bad.

    The numbers mentioned in this study are patently ludicrous, if not completely and utterly impossible. Even the storied Saratoga Race Course is beginning see declines in attendance, particularly on weekday race days. The last time I was there, even with that brand new ‘1863 Club’, attendance at the track was spotty.

    As a hard-core [former!] race goer and bettor, I wouldn’t take odds on THAT bet- that is, foreseeing an increase of attendance at any of the major race tracks anytime soon.

    In fact, the chances of Breeders Cup returning to New York AT ALL are slim to none, and slim just left town! The last time the BC Races were held in the northern United States was in 2007 when Monmouth Park hosted a disastrous two-day event. The soaking rain rendered the turf course all but useless, and, I might add, very dangerous. On ‘regular’ race days, rain-soaked weather precludes taking the races carded for the turf OFF the turf course, and moved onto the main track, simply because, it’s not safe! Sometimes, the distance is even changed, a practice almost always implemented at all thoroughbred race tracks. BUT, BC turf horses won’t run on dirt, so the track stewards at MP decided to keep the BC turf races on the turf that day.

    It’s a miracle that ONLY the horse ‘George Washington’ suffered a fatal injury that day; I was there, and I was surprised that there were actually not even more fatalities- the turf course was horrible. But, money reigns supreme, and after all the build-up for the “biggest two days in racing” there’s no way the BC races would be carded off the turf, come hell or high water.

    I firmly believe that the industry will keep the BC OUT of the northeast, because bad, inclement weather and Grade I turf racing ‘doth not make good bedfellows.’

    And fatal breakdowns at prominent, nationally televised events like the BC are a poison bill for the Thoroughbred Racing Industry’s public face. Forget the BC at Belmont; IMHO, it just “ain’t gonna happen”.

    The interview, too, was a joke; even the most hard-core dedicated horse racing fan knows that attendance at Belmont is not going to skyrocket simply because Aqueduct closed. These are the guys that attend the races almost, if not every single day, and get to see first hand what a ghost town Aqueduct, and even Belmont is on most racing days. If any one of them read this interview, they too, would say that they smell a load of bulls**t.

    Quite frankly, ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ is really a very kind and generous description of this ridiculous facade of an interview. An out and out, utter line of bulls**it might be better.
    Certainly more accurate.

    • I’m not sure what the definition of ‘safe’ is in horseracing. Horseracing is not a safe thing to be doing anywhere, anytime. It’s just that some conditions present more hazards than others.
      Horses don’t have a choice but the people do have a choice. Putting horses lives at HIGH-RISK of INJURIES, MAIMING and DEATH is inherent to horseracing.
      The jockeys have a choice to attempt to make a living this way or pursue another line of work.
      Or, in some cases, they commit suicide. TDN used the decline of new foal crop numbers (providing fewer opportunities to get a mount) as one of the possible factors that could affect jockeys and their mental health. This is in regards to the passing of Alex Canchari as well as other jockeys who die from what appears to be mental health issues.

      • When the turf course is wet from soaking, drenching rains, horses cannot get a grip on the surface and would be bumping and sliding all over into each other – in really bad conditions they might not even be able to finish the race. Clearly, this is much more dangerous than a ‘firm’ turf, which most turf-bred horses are used to.

        While there are always imminent dangers whenever horses run in tight packs full tilt at 40 MPH, regardless of the surface, an extremely wet turf course makes it impossible for the animals get their footing, and race on. The track stewards make a call on inclement weather days on whether to shelve turf racing, and in most instances, they’re correct- at those times, it is entirely TOO dangerous to run the race.

    • The reason that you don’t see many Breeder’s Cup races in the east has little to do with cold weather. If that were the case, then you would see the BC take place at Gulfstream more often.
      The reason that maybe three of every four BC events take place in the west at Santa Anita and Del Mar, is because of the time zones and television broadcast dollars. So when the BC Classic starts at 5:38 pm in LA, the viewers in NY see it at 8:38 pm which, of course is prime time.
      But when the BC Classic takes place in the east at Belmont Park, the time in the east is 5:38 pm, but it is 2:38 pm in LA–not a desired time.
      As with anything else, it is all about the money.

      • I’m sure that the time zone certainly plays a part, but the fact that you could very possibly have a foot of snow – or more – on the ground in November in the east would make turf racing impossible.

        Cancel the BC Turf Sprint, Turf Classic, Filly & Turf Sprint? Because of a little thing like inclement weather? Snow?? Not on your life, Fred Miller, because like you said – and I wholeheartedly agree -it’s all about the money.

  5. It should be obvious to anybody that this study is PIE IN THE SKY.
    The only people supporting it are those who have been bought and paid for by the NYRA including Gov. Hochul and some of her staff.
    New York taxpayers deserve public meetings on this and no decision should be made until this happens.
    You know why you can’t lift an elephant into the air on the end of a party balloon?
    Because it’s not possible and neither is this “hypothetical proposal.”
    I don’t know if there’s a political process in place to either remove Gov. Hochul from office immediately or to stop this from going through?
    This is a complete and total sham.

    • The $230-Million (+/-) in annual Video Lottery Terminal payments to horseracing, PLUS all the other strings attached with the original government SUBSIDIES package deal to the NYRA described in detail by Emilie Munson in the TIMES-UNION [“How New York bankrolls horse racing with billions”], that the NEW YORK LEGISLATORS have been wanting to REDIRECT from horseracing to education and essential services would be LOCKED-IN IF the LEGISLATIVE branch of government votes FOR the $455-MILLION in NY State-backed Bonds loan package to prop up an industry that exploits horses with cruel indifference (Animal Cruelty and Abuse) and that involves illegal use of drugs and the (illegal) use of illegal drugs, race-fixing and the various forms of fraudulent activities inherent to horseracing, including the massive cheating and doping of racehorses.

      I don’t believe that the legislators are going to vote this through because it’s just illogical. There were enough legislative votes against the State-Backed Bonds deal the first time to stop this fiasco from going through last year when it was for $450-million. Why would they vote for this outrageous request of $455-million this time? It doesn’t make sense that the New York State LEGISLATORS would change their minds about redirecting the original government subsidies currently going to horseracing, which includes the Video Lottery Terminal payments, FROM horseracing TO education and essential services.
      This inhumane treatment of horses inherent to horseracing and the corruption that goes with it is definitely a can of worms and there are decent people in the LEGISLATIVE branch of government in New York who are against Animal Cruelty and the corruption that goes with horseracing.

  6. Economic impact studies are nonsense. They say what the person paying wants them to say.

  7. During this interview they are asked if they’ve looked at other states who have implemented similar plans and they said ‘NO.”
    Well look at Maryland right now today!
    After the politicians there elected to hand over hundreds of million of dollars FOR YEARS to The Stronach Group (TSG) the entire project FAILED!
    AS of today, TSG now wants to completely BAIL OUT on what they originally promised and SELL LAUREL PARK for $40 million PLUS KEEP THE MONEY FOR THEMSELVES!!
    They have no intentions of giving back any money from the proceeds of this sale and into the Maryland public coffers after they’ve financially supported TSG and the miserable failing horse racing industry there.
    Are you fu*ing kidding me?
    Then they want to turn back their attention to Pimlico which is so badly dilapatated that it will require an additional $725 million of TAXPAYERS MONEY to rebuild it.
    TSG wants bonds from the public coffers to loan them the money which they will repay over 20 years after they’ve received HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.
    The politicians are actually considering this and they all need to be thrown in jail for misappropriation of public funds.
    “Every scenario is being thoroughly vetted.”
    The ONLY scenario that they should resoundly support is to END THIS MONEY PIT to taxpayers and END IT NOW!

  8. It’s necessary to ALWAYS stay on top of this industry and its supporters — their specious narratives and statements can fool many — they’ll say and do anything to “appear” respectable and moral — SHUT DOWN this evil and needless RACKET

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