An Open Letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo

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Dear Gov. Cuomo,

I’m sorry you were unable to attend Saturday’s 144th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. While everyone was disappointed with the news on Friday that Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another would be unable to run because of the early onset of an injury to a tendon in his left front leg, there is an old show-biz expression that “the show must go on.”

It did, and what a show it was!

Had you been at Belmont Park, you might have noticed an upbeat, well-behaved and youthful crowd of 85,811 who – with or without a Triple Crown on the line – came to celebrate one of the great sporting traditions in New York state. They handicapped, wagered and cheered with enthusiasm throughout the 13-race card. Nearly every seat at Belmont Park was full on Saturday, an exception being the one in the Trustees Room reserved for you. Fans packed the track apron, the backyard, and the area around the saddling area and walking ring to get a glimpse of these magnificent Thoroughbreds.

On this wonderful afternoon, the most magnificent of them all was the Belmont winner, a colt named Union Rags, who made his name in New York last summer, winning the Saratoga Special not far from your upstate home in Albany and then romping in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park during the fall meeting.

Governor, I know family is important to you, so you might want to know that the father of Union Rags, Dixie Union, raced in New York. So did his grandfather, Dixieland Band, and his great-grandfather, Northern Dancer, who came to the Belmont in 1964 with a chance to sweep the Triple Crown. The mother of Union Rags, a filly named Tempo, raced in New York, too, as did his grandmother, Terpsichorist. His maternal grandfather was a horse named Gone West, who won some big races in New York. Gone West was trained by a fellow from Kentucky named Woodford Cefis Stephens. The Kentuckian made good in the big city, winning the Belmont Stakes five consecutive years in the 1980s. In fact, the lyrics from “New York, New York,” sung by the guy from Hoboken, N.J. (“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere…”), I think they were inspired by old Woody Stephens.

The thing is, New York racing was, and still is, a very big deal. Not just to the politicians up in Albany, and not just to the people who enjoy watching and wagering on the sport, or the tens of thousands of New Yorkers whose livelihoods depend on it. But people in Kentucky, where the horse is king, also are dependent upon a healthy New York Thoroughbred industry.

By not being able to attend the Belmont, you missed an opportunity to meet some extraordinary people.

Let’s start with Michael Matz, the trainer of Union Rags. He is what some people might call a true American hero. You may have heard of the story of the United Airlines flight that crashed into an Iowa cornfield in July 1989, claiming 111 lives. Matz and his fiancée (now wife D.D.) survived the disaster, but instead of fleeing to save his own life as the plane burned, he led four children to safety. Seven years later, as a United States Olympic equestrian, he was given the honor of carrying the American flag during the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.

Then there is jockey John Velazquez, who is living what immigrant families for many generations have referred to as the “American Dream.” You surely know about that, since grandparents on both your mother and father’s side of the family emigrated to America from Italy, and through hard work the Cuomo and Raffa families have done quite well.

Velazquez, born in Puerto Rico, came to the United States, worked hard, and has risen to the top of his profession, the ultimate recognition coming in just a couple of months when he will be inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Johnny V. has a beautiful family, and he is not only successful in his given profession, but gives back to it. He is the chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild – the organization that represents the men and women who participate in this most dangerous occupation – and is a tireless advocate and board member of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, which offers assistance to riders who have suffered serious racing accidents.

Phyllis Wyeth, the breeder and owner of the Belmont Stakes winner, is what I would call an “American original.” She has done some amazing work in her life: among other things, founding the Herring Gut Learning Center in Maine, a school dedicated to educating students – many of them at-risk – about aquaculture and environmental issues; supporting numerous environmental causes in various states; and serving on the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

As a young adult, she was struck by a young, idealistic Massachusetts Democratic politician named John F. Kennedy, who had lofty expectations, not only for himself but for his country. She worked on his staff, first when he was a U.S. Senator and later as President of the United States, until she was seriously injured in an automobile accident that eventually left her confined to a wheelchair.

If you’d been at Belmont Park, perhaps Mrs. Wyeth would have shared some memories with you about what “Camelot” was like. But no worries. I think you’ll have another chance to meet her at Saratoga later this summer. I hope you’ll take the opportunity to do so.

Governor, quite frankly, you seem angry about this horse racing business, and I don’t fully understand why. It’s not just about the wealthy, conservative Republicans who have controlled the New York Racing Association for so many years, the people you and your father before you have battled with. You’ve won the battle, accomplishing what your father Mario, who also served as New York governor, couldn’t do: a state takeover of horse racing from the NYRA board of trustees.

A government-run horse racing industry scares me.  All I have to do is think of how poorly the state’s off-track betting system – controlled by politicians and their cronies – has been operated, competing against instead of cooperating with the racing industry. NYRA has been far from perfect, but it has survived that corrupt OTB system and a sometimes hostile state government. It has even survived bankruptcy and financially challenging times that have prevented sorely needed capital improvements to its racing facilities.

I hope you’ll stop focusing on the racing elite, those people who have controlled the game in New York for so long. Our industry is as diverse as the sidewalks of New York. Visit the backstretch of a racetrack sometime, the breeding farms, the horse sales. All of us – not just New Yorkers, but people throughout America who make our living in this game – are depending on you to do the right thing.

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  • Figless

    Great letter, thanks, was thinking the same thing when I realized he didnt show up on Saturday.

  • Triplecrownquest

    Very well written Ray!  But if anyone thinks that Cuomo cares about the horses, the trainers, their staff’s, the fans or anything else but his OWN agenda, then they should think again.  This guy is as bad as they get…a political criminal…that is just the facts.

  • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.  Have written my own letter to Cuomo abou not attending…and about actions speaking louder than words.  I eagerly await the likely form letter response of “The Gov cares deeply about the racing industry in New York and regrets that he was not able to attend the Belmont Stakes” I will likely get from a staffer with his rubber stamp signature.

  • george garrity

    FABULOUS! & Amen

  • horseandhound

    Way to inject some facts/reality into the discourse, Ray! Well done! 

  • Rob Whiteley

    Brilliantly delivered touche. Bravo to you, Ray Paulick.

  • Sportsguy633

    Well said

  • MamaKin

    They say that if you have an erection lasting more than four hours you should call a doctor. Maybe after Andrew’s NYRA erection subsides….he should read & think about this article? 

  • Countfleet43

    Just a Wonderfully written open Letter to Gov. Cuomo. I hope he reads at least twice & hears what you have put in writing from your Heart.
    There are Many-Many former Owners & other folks who in fact are angry with the Thoroughbred Industry, because they never clean up their mess/mistakes & rarely get rid of the law-breakers, and just since the breakdown of “Barbaro” & “Eight Belles” have most
    of the Trainers, Owners, Vets & others who handle the horses put the Thoroughbreds Health First in most cases.
    Again, great Letter. 

  • HappyHarriet

    THANK YOU!  You expressed perfectly what I expressed quite imperfectly over the weekend about WHY New York is an embarrassment to me,  a New Yorker transplanted to dreadful (to me) Southern California, although your comments took aim at the third eye of Cuomo while I was willing to scatter shoot the lot of those numbskulls at NYRA. 

    I’m the original conspiracy theorist, probably inherited rightly from my original American ancestor who spied on the British during the Revolutionary War.  The point is, does anyone else see the dastardly hand of too many idiots in high places in the horse industry?  Or is it just me, channeling my Grandfather and seeing shadows everywhere?  If you follow the trajectory of the idiots on both sides of the country, and follow it to it’s likely conclusion, it looks like doomsday for the horse industry.  Tell me I’m wrong, please!

    Ray – I absolutely adore you and your writing.

  • wallyhorse

    A well written letter, Ray.  

    Perhaps the current Gov. Cuomo remembers the fact his father lost to George Pataki when the elder Cuomo was looking for a fourth term in 1994, and as I recall, the NYRA regime that was in place at that time backed Pataki (this was right before a period of numerous changes with NYRA in the years that happened, though that defeat had more to do with Republicans voting out Democrats in general that November and in New York, the elder Cuomo was not helped by the baseball strike that canceled the World Series that fall where some voted Republican to get back at Clinton for not issuing an Executive Order that would have ended that strike).  That may be something the current Governor has never forgotten, and that may be why he has been seemingly hostile at NYRA while immensely popular with the rest of New York State.   Part of that may also be because many voters have such a hatred with the rich that any appearance of pandering to them could hurt him with Democrat voters as he looks ahead to a Presidential bid in 2016, making NYRA an easy target right now.

  • kevin callinan

    Well delivered and substantiated but we can’t overlook the transgressions of the replaced NYRA board. To compare it to OTB is like comparing the Titanic to the Hindenburg. Let’s see how this plays out before we rip a guy for not showing up. This sport needs somebody to step in and hold people accountable or soon we will be comparing it to boxing.

  • Idavis

    Well said, Ray.  Unfortunately, folks like you and me don’t even register on the Cuomo scale.  These types of political elitists think they are doing us a favor by merely existing.  NY has suffered under these types of pols, yet the voting public of NY keeps voting them in. Makes on sense, but then again commons sense is very uncommon these days.

  • Fayjhi

    Nice Job Ray, but you may want to skip the Camelot reference, the Govenors children are actually Kennedys, he knows all about it.

  • Haclarke

    here here Well said ,but i’m afraid your words will fall on deaf ears

  • giftoffaith

    WOW..a straight shooter, can’t misunderstand anyting in that letter. Good letter, indeed. There are wonderful people in our sport and a wonderful history, too.

  • Barry Irwin

    Awesome!!!!!!!

  • LLoonin

    I hope and must believe this very well written article will have legs. Governor Cuomo is preparing himself for a run for the Presidency in 2016. He is positioning himself as one who went after everything the NYTimes stated was wrong with horse racing and by greatly reducing the days it is conducted in NY and by using the land on which Aqueduct stands for other business uses he will appear to be a liberal-reformer. But I see him as an opportunist who hit NYRA below the belt and would be satisfied (ultimately) if he could limit horse racing to something held at Saratoga perhaps for 10 weeks or so…   

  • wallyhorse

    And speaking of boxing, that sport is in a major tailspin after the decision the other night in the Pacquiao fight.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/MyBig-Red/100000980578079 MyBig Red

    Very well written, Ray. Wow, that letter gives me goose bumps. Now, we need to pray it hits home.
    Congratulations to Union Rags & his Connections. That was an awesome race !! 

  • Faresfarmshannon

    Brilliant, Ray. Well said. Perhaps a personal invitation to Saratoga would suffice?

  • Nyhorseracing

    Wow That was a great letter. I only hope the right people read it and think about it..

  • Allisondbooth

    Lovely letter Ray, eloquent and factual. Thank You!

  • Michael Goldsberry

    Ray, as a lifelong fan, and someone who spent 11 summers in Saratoga working on the backside, I loved your perspective on the State Government’s total disregard for what is at stake for our sport in NY, and their apparent lack of knowledge about it’s impact on their state and the industry nationwide. Thank you for speaking out, it’s obvious you love this game as much as I do

  • Bajno1

    Nice letter Ray.  Now I know it is not your preferred breed, but will you kindly write an open letter to Chris Christie when he avoids going to the Hambletonian this year?

  • dave

    ray….if they gave an eclipse award for ‘letters,’ your missive to our govenor would
    be the unanimous winner.  great job, only hope he does read it.

  • Marshall Cassidy

    well done, Ray!

  • kevin callinan

    exactly

  • Lfmroyal

    Thank you!  It will be interesting to see if he responds and what his answers are!  I guess it is always politics first.  If there was a triple crown to be had, I am sure he would have been there. 

  • Lisa Wintermote

    Much needed, beautifully timed, in short– BRILLIANT!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cardsbymarcy Marcy Leonard

    Beautifully written, wonderfully told.  Once again!! Thanks Ray!!

  • 2LINDAMARIE2

    HERE HERE…HERE TOO….WELL SAID RAY…THANKS!

  • Kysuze

    As I read, I was trying to imagine a Kentucky Governor missing the Kentucky Derby. It would NEVER happen! All of our Governors have had enough sense to understand how much the horse industry means to our state.

  • Shaboo Ritter

    Awesome and Thank YOU 

  • John Greathouse

    Excellent!!

  • Gene_sorrell

    Thank God I moved from NY to FL years ago.  Cuomo -what a doofus!

  • Michele

    Nicely done!  It’s terrible that he wasn’t there.  You try to be positive about the state taking over yet you can’t help but be apprehensive..and this is why.

  • K2ees

    Thank you Mr. Paulick for a well written letter. I do not understand why we, the constituents, seem to be waging war against our political leaders. Are they not meant to be leaders with a far sighted vision? What has become of the honor of the political office? We are in battle with out Governor here in Pennsylvania who I fear does not appreciate the implications of the economic demographic of horse racing in our state.

  • Giacomo Fatolla

    Great note, Ray- milder than I would have phrased it, but maybe Leibman will tell him that you are a voice to be heeded? Remember that Mario didn’t care for racing and this fellow cares only for whatever will propell him higher. Unless the industry plays the $$ game at the highest level, we will be a footnote in his agenda.

  • Pattie

    Fantastic letter, Ray. I only hope it reaches Cuomo’s eyes. Not that it would make any difference, I’m sure. I don’t understand why he doesn’t see what an important part the thoroughbred race horse industry is to New York. 

  • Lou Baranello

    Impressive letter, Ray

  • EBarnes624

    Great letter. But like his dad who only attended 2 Belmont Stakes during his term, I’m not expecting much from the Andy either!

  • Jcbozhome

    wow.   well done….here in California we know all about dweeby governors…this one definitely falls into that category.

  • http://Bellwether4u.com James Staples

    90% of the POLITCIANS r CROOKS in Amercia for sure…locking people up for insider trading while they (senators/congressmen) were doing the same damn thing through a loop hole n the law untill the Amercian public got wind of it…it got plugged real quick…RAISE N HELL WORKS!!!…GET BUST HORSE PEOPLE!!!…ty…

  • Terrymcleod

    very well put

  • Chasman

    Should it come as any surprise that Gov. Cuomo was a No-Show! Since there was not going to be a chance for the Triple Crown with I’ll Have Another scratching, that meant “less Big Media coverage” aka Mainstream Media and thus less coverage in the U.S. for whoever won the race or even the result of the race without I’ll Have Another running…Gov. Cuomo is bad for the racing industry and his no-show on Saturday makes him a grade A hypocritc for his previous comments on the NYRA…He had a chance to show it was about the sport and not political power – which at the end of the day it is always about who has the clout with politicians…

  • Cpramsey71

    Very well said!!! Hope you emailed it to him also!!

  • NY Owner

    Well said Ray!  Thank you.

  • Jeromebrown

    To bad nobody will here Ray’s message. Yes we—hear well, but nobody else does. I hate to say this writting is a waste of time, so I won’t. I will say this has fallen on deaf ears. So as they say “The show must go on”

  • in tears

    Ray. Well done and to the point. Direct, but polite

  • James Staples

    U put it on his @SS Ray…ty…

  • Patti Davis

    You forgot to sign it, Ray. ;-)

  • Horse Angel

    Mr. Paulick,
    It is true the sport of kings is taking a beating these days, but for good reason. I would like to hear you talk about the fact that all the wonderful people depending on this 
    industry to make a living are willing to take more responsibility for the health and well-being of the horses, for without them there would be no sport!  All the political corruption and money making has caused people to loose focus on the fact that these are animals, not cars to be disposed of when they are used up, they are living breathing beings that are being physically and emotionally abused for the sake of the sport. Regulate the breeding so there is more quality in your horses and less horses being sent to slaughter, and to dispose of.
    There are good and bad people everywhere, focus on flushing out the bad people from your sport and show the world that horse racing respects and cares about their horses and the integrity of the sport, maybe then the politicians will go away and the American people might have some sympathy for you!

  • Melvynarthur

    Great  Mel

  • Jimculpepper

    Do you really suppose brother cuomo reads the Paulick report?

  • Jerry

    Great story. Now can you write one to Delaware Park

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hermans-Kennel/100000711619018 Herman’s Kennel

    Well Said!

  • Jseder

    One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Putting the same crew back in charge of NYRA will produce the same results we’ve had.

  • Lobieb

    Ray the letter was great.  I just want to inject one thing into these comments.  The people with the money get elected into office and you know it is us, the voting public that gets them there, so who do we blame, but ourselves.  It’s nice to hang on to a popular person’s coat tails to say oh ya I voted for the winner.  If the american public would do their research, not vote for “the popular guy” then maybe we would have people who truly deserve to be there and who want to work for all the people, not the few.  NY voted Cumo in, now they must lay in their beds until election time comes around again and you know what……they still won’t learn. But hey if he runs for election in 2016 for president you better believe this is one vote he will never get.

  • nancy

     I sincerely hope that you have sent your letter to Gov. Cuomo personally. I don’t know what his problem is against the horse racing industry. I have attended every Belmont Stakes since living in NYC since the late 80′s. As far back as I can remember, it was always attended by New York politicians, if only for the fact that this is a huge New York event, and that is what politicians do. My most memorable one occurred in 2002, where Mayor Giuliani and the Clinton’s headed up the post parade through the paddock to the track where they were given a standing ovation.

  • Sal Carcia

    Ray, great letter. Governor Cuomo took some hits last week over his support of Genting’s plan to build a casino and convention center at Aqueduct. Genting supposedly donated around $2 million to a Cuomo advocacy group in return for the Governor’s support of their plan. Maybe, if the game of racing collectively pressures the governor, he will respond by turning over the NYRA to racing executives that will do what’s best for the game. My only regret is that not many in the game supported Charles Hayward when he was unfairly removed from the leadership of the NYRA. We need to make up for this mistake by letting the Governor know we are here.

  • Jersey Josh

    Ray…Nice read but did you just ask a politician to do the right thing?  Now that’s funny!

  • Jersey Josh

    Krissy only know where the Mall at the Meadowlands is located.  Track? What Track?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HBI6ED45S7XH4IOHVURB2VXRE4 Chris Lowe

    Sure knows where the food court is,too.

  • DebiT

    Wow!!! I certainly learned a thing or two reading your very informative letter.  I purchased a race horse a couple of years ago.  I didn’t know that much about the industry except going to Belmont with my Dad from time to time.  We lived in Valley Stream, just 10 minutes away.  I knew I loved the horses and Dad taught be how to handicap but I never knew just how much went on at the barns.  I met so many hands on people who make their life as owners, trainers, riders, etc.  Very down to earth, very caring to the horse and to each other.  Maybe the Gov should buy a race horse and learn a little more about this great sport.  He’s bound to have a different take on things.

  • Indulto

    A worthwhile effort, Mr. Paulick, on behalf of all who fear further intrusion of state governments into racing; particularly in a state with a history of racing-related corruption and incompetence displayed by government, racetrack operators, and off-track bet-takers.
     
    The specter of NYCOTB must be weighed against the reality of former NYRA leadership that illegally maintained excessive takeout for reasons under investigation, and still does so legally to the detriment of the majority of its customers as well as to the state’s taxpayers.
     
    Despite the defection of the heralded Triple Crown candidate, Belmont day was a success – possibly because the Governor decided not to let his presence distract media attention from the proceedings before a crowd already denied an opportunity to witness history in the making. I agree that his absence would not have been acceptable had the Triple Crown been on the line.
     Of course the media must keep the pressure on the Governor to make certain greater transparency is a part of restructuring the NYRA board of directors, and that his appointments result in genuine reform and revitalization of racing in New York. Hopefully more columns will follow on this website and others in a similar tone, that identify qualified potential appointees and verify their credentials.

  • Sal Carcia

    Over the last few years, I have felt Charles Hayward did an outstanding job running the NYRA. He successfully brought them out of its indictment and then kept them financially viable as the state floundered with its effort to open a slots parlor at Aqueduct. He did this all the while working in a political minefield. Throughout this time, racing was first class and mostly clean. From handicappers perspective, I feel the NYRA website is by far the best in the game. He made mistakes but he always corrected them. I wish we had him back.

  • NY Owner

    I posted the link to this letter on Cuomo’s Facebook page.  Maybe he’ll get the hint!

  • Pedigrees

    well done, ray. you might be the man to make racing czar and cut thru the nightmarish stupidity endemic to the game and accomplish a level playing field for all.

  • bluegrass12

    Bravo Ray, from all of us!  Now if only Gov. Cuomo would read it and take it to heart.  Sorry to say I am afraid he just won’t care to “get it”.  Too much to be gained from his casino buddies.

  • Mike Levy

    Ray, this is so much on target…with respect and admiration you came with the best of Joe Hirsch….Thank you

  • Dana Wimpfheimer

    Fantastic job, Ray!! How could he avoid reading this? Hopefully, most probably doubtful, he will respond with positive results for NY racing. It was an absolute disgrace he was not present on Saturday.

  • Convene

    Right on the mark, Ray! Just as in Canada – and in so many fields as well as racing – our political leaders need to remember that although some things are financed by wealthy people, the majority of the people who care about those things are anything but wealthy. Of those full stands, I would bet most of the seats were filled by the, “ordinary joes,” like me – people who choose to spend their money and their time on something that transcends mere dollars. The people carrying racing – the betting public – aren’t wealthy or elite. Most of them are just plain ol’ common folks. Who ever wept when the slot machine broke down? Weigh that against the genuine grief all those plain ol’ common folks show when the same thing happens to a horse. We need racing, if only to remind us all that life is not about money; it’s about caring, compassion, enthusiasm and faith – the faith to take a chance and believe in the future. I wonder whether Gov. Cuomo even knows what any of those things are. Up here, our politicians have forgotten. I so hope that doesn’t happen in your country too.

  • Allison Roulston

    Congratulations, Ray! It belongs on the Op-Ed page of of the NY Times 

  • James D. Jimenez

    Ray,
    Nice job, hope it reaches the people that can help.

  • Ssk12955

    Great letter Ray. Let’s hope he reads it and comprehends your thoughts.

  • Dcw

      It went in one ear and out the other.A must for pols.If it was evan read.

  • Robb

    New York racing is making great strides.  The worst thing that can happen is for the governor to use it as some kind of an example of his power.  The people aren’t giving up on New York racing; if anything, they’re coming back to New York racing.  I would hope that cooler heads prevail and that the state lets racing continue to flourish here.

  • Jerry

    Yawwwwnnn.  Who cares what Ray Paulick has to say. Just another NYRA hack. 

  • Jerry

    I’ll try this again.  Ray you are nothing more than a NYRA hack.  They can do no wrong in your eyes while they lost tens of millions of dollars a year you remained silent.  You have no high ground, just like the other phony Steve Crist.  No one cares what you or the other NYRA puppets have to say.  Go away.  I hope you post this, but you won’t.

  • RayPaulick

    Jerry,

    Maybe you didn’t read the entire open letter to Cuomo…specifically the part that says “NYRA has been far from perfect.” The war is over; Cuomo has won. I just hope he finds the right people to run NYRA. It is, to coin a phrase from the financial crisis a few years ago, “too big to fail.”

    It is the first time I’ve been accused of being a NYRA hack, but that’s fine. You’re entitled to your opinion.

    Both of your comments are posted.

  • Ron

    Kudos, Ray, on one of your best pieces, and I’ve been reading them for years.

    I hope you can get through to Mr. Cuomo, but sadly I fear “like father, like son”.

    How a Governor of NY can ignore this proud, historical sporting event bewilders me.

  • Matthew Martini

    The government involvement is a concern. Does Cuomo and his appointees really care about horse racing? He is trying to clean up a mess, but in no way does his involvement imply that he has the vision and intent to make horse racing succeed in New York.

    Based on the takeout fiasco alone, the NYRA failed its customers. Changes needed to be made.  I’m no industry insider (simply a middle-class fan), but I assume that there needs to be a healthy symbiosis between New York and the other major markets within the industry for racing to be at its optimal state. Racing needs to be self-sustaining. It needs to align with the sentiment of the public, because, after all, there is no future to any business without the backing of the public. Does Cuomo know what the fans want?

  • Canarse

    Great letter, Ray.  Who knew so many great things can happen at the track?  Did you forward it to MacGregor at ESPN?

  • Jerry

    Ray:  Less than perfect?  Let’s see NYRA has lost tens of millions of dollars annually for the past 10 or so years.  They have threatened to not run the Saratoga Meet.  They have had multiple taxpayer bailouts.  They have talked about this highest integrity by adding the Detention barn and refusing to deal with computer based rebate shops, only to do away with both of those “Integrity” actions.  They have been one of the most secretive organizations in NYS, suing so they didn’t have to give over basic information like salaries.  They have basically all but ignored the State regulator, instead going over their head at every turn to politicians to get their way.  They have wasted money like no other organization.  They the knowlingly extracted $8 million dollars from the people racing needs to the most, the bettors.  And for all the “less the perfect” behavior their salaries weren’t enough – they gave themselves raises on top of their $400,000 dollars salary because they had done such a good job. Oh, and they tried to hide those raises from regulators, oversight boards and the like.  They have been one of the most arrogant orgranizations in the state, and when you get arrogant, you think you can do no wrong.  And that is when you start doing things wrong.  But none of the above has ever been written about by you, Mr. Paulick.   They have refused to cooperate with the State Comptroller, the NYS Oversight Board and the NYS Racing and Wagering Board, and most recently the IG.  I could go on and on, but i actually know what I am talking about.  I don’t write columns from the NYRA talking points that they distribute to the turf writers who do their bidding.  Thank God Governor Cuomo took over and will make sure the place is operated in an ethical and proper way.  I rest my case!

  • Bob Hope

    You’ve won the battle, accomplishing what your father Mario, who also served as New York governor, couldn’t do: a state takeover of horse racing from the NYRA board of trustees. 
    While Ray’s piece is a wonderful tribute to N. Y. horse racing and the people in it, let’s pause to remember that Governor Mario Cuomo, after his first election, extended the NYRA franchise for 25 years. Mario Cuomo, while accused of a dislike of thoroughbred racing, certainly was not guilty of that accusation.  We must remember, “to be loved you must be lovable and in that quote lies the question”.  Let’s not forget that fact ! 

  • http://twitter.com/Kerbrech Evelyn Waugh

    If new leadership at NYRA means the “departure” of Steve Dunker, then I doff my hat to the Governor.

  • Al W – Ky

    Excellet Letter!

  • GERARD FABER

    Superb! You said it for all of us. Thank You!

  • nomoralcompass

    Great letter Ray, but exactly who are you going to give NYRA to? The same feckless and withered group that has run racing into the ground in NY? And for all of the glory of NY racing cited in your letter, if not for the casino money that Cuomo has his eyes on, would anyone care? 

  • Brock Sheridan

    Very nice letter Ray. In fact their is quite an thoroughbred breeding, selling and racing industry here in Florida that needs to see successful racing in New York as well.

    Hope you sent a hard copy to his office as well.

  • Equineplay2003

    Ray,
    This is your finest piece regarding the Belmont. The journalism equivalent to Reggie hitting three in a World series game, Sinatra’s comeback at The Garden, and this kids first kiss on a playground in Flushing Meadow Park :).

    It was nice having a chat with you under trying times on the backstretch on Friday.

    See you at HP soon………

  • Reynolds Bell

    Great letter and great message Ray.  

  • concerned

    I appreciate all your positive comments about admirable people in the industry–Phyllis Wyeth, John Velasquez.  However, you did not mention that NY taxpayers bailed out NYRA from bankruptcy at a cost of 100 million.  And NYRA is a non-profit that pays no taxes and pays top executives almost half a milllion in salaries.  More realistic financial planning at NYRA could cause NY taxpayers  and editors of Newsday, the NY Post  and others to have  a more positive impression of the industry.  Without realistic changes and smart marketing,  the industry may not survive. 

  • Kevin cox

    “NYRA has been far from perfect.” ?  Would that have been more strongly worded had you been one of the patrons fleeced during the 15 month illegal takeout period ?   Also, when was the last time ANY racetracker said “You know, I really wish a politician would’ve showed up today.”  I think it was refreshing that he stayed OUT of the spotlight. 

  • voiceofreason

    A government run industry scares us all. But the industry without government intervention is simply dead… corrupt, broken and dead. If NYRA is your poster boy of how good things can be WITHOUT government, you might want to rethink your position.

    Oh, and asking for Cuomo to stop focusing on the industry elite is like saying “pay no mind to the people who control the sport”. Why?

  • Sal Carcia

    We saw how Gov. Cuomo’s appointees on NYSRWB botched the whole detention barn execution for the Belmont Stakes. Today, NYSRWB mistakenly announced the Giant Ryan was euthanized on track. Good luck in NY with the Gov’s appointees running the NYRA.

    Also, it was the Comptroller that wanted to see the original detention barn shut down to save money. The Comptroller wanted to charge for horses being shipped between tracks. This would have been detrimental to the game. Then the Comptroller wanted to reduce all marketing efforts and cut down on the overall staff at the NYRA. Luckily, Charles Hayward was able to protect the interests of the game.

    And all the oversight agencies which were filled with the governor’s appointees missed the takeout overcharge as well and somehow were not held accountable. The NYSRWB were asked to opine on the takeout law and they claimed the spam filter ate the rquest. I see this differently than you do, Jerry.

  • Sarjoe1m@aol.com

    Sal u got it right , u r one of the few who post know what is going on.
    People for get how much power the Racing Board has over the game,I E how long it took Nyra to get live streaming,& a long time ago u could open up a phone account on Otb for $300 but to open up a phone with Nyra u had to open it up with $1,000…Joe

  • Ernie

    Well done.

  • Nancy

    Bravo Ray Paulick, Bravo!

  • Laura Peterson

    How nice to read something uplifting about horse racing and the people and traditions that make it special!

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