NYRA Continues Look at Surfaces, Violations

by Teresa Genaro

The New York Racing Association said Feb. 27 it is considering changes in racing surfaces and is examining internal procedures it uses for rule violations.

Glen Kozak, vice president of facilities and racing surfaces for NYRA, said the organization is actively exploring changing surfaces, for reasons not only of safety but for preserving the tracks' turf surfaces. While the safety of horses and riders was discussed as a primary concern, Kozak said the option of a synthetic surface could help in providing a "much better surface" by managing turf racing.

During the NYRA board meeting member Anthony Bonomo proposed that NYRA investigate the possibility of establishing house rules for infractions. He expressed frustration at the length of the process currently overseen by the New York Gaming Commission, into which the New York State Racing and Wagering Board was folded in February.

While acknowledging NYRA would not have the authority to issue suspensions, Bonomo would like to explore the consequences should NYRA have the authority. "We get the blame when something goes wrong, but we don't have the authority to do certain things," Bonomo said.

Bonomo also proposed holding quarterly meetings with trainers and private veterinarians. NYRA is working on a manual for Thoroughbred owners, with an emphasis on safety issues and equine health.

In other business, board member Bobby Flay raised the issue of a 2014 Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park, saying he was asked by Breeders' Cup to inquire about its feasibility. Belmont hasn't hosted the Breeders' Cup since 2005.

Impediments have included schedulingwhen the Breeders' Cup World Championships is held on the weekend of the New York City Marathon, available hotel space is scarceand late post times that would require the installation of lights. Flay indicated neither of those would be "deal-breakers" in considering a 2014 Belmont Breeders' Cup.

What may well be a deal-breaker, though, is the lack of common ground on the use of the anti-bleeding medication Salix on race day. Breeders' Cup announced March 1 it plans to maintain the Salix ban in 2-year-old races in 2013 but will allow the drug's use in all other races; it had planned to ban it in all races this year.

That could, however, change in future years.

Said Rick Violette, a NYRA board member and president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association: "To take away legitimate protection for horses is not something we would endorse."

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