Down the Stretch: NYRA takeover prompts many questions

With the Saratoga meet ending today, the thoughts of New York Racing Association executives and hors

With the Saratoga meet ending today, the thoughts of New York Racing Association executives and horsemen appear to be highly focused on what lies ahead.

No, not the Belmont fall meet, but the takeover of NYRA by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Sometime in the foreseeable future, the governor will gain control of NYRA’s Board of Trustees, and this is a cause of great concern among the trainers and owners I’ve spoken with.

What this may mean to the NYRA — as well as to how it will impact racing in the state — may be one of the most important questions since NYRA first obtained the franchise in 1955.

For decades, New York pol­iticians have been frustrated by NYRA’s modus operandi, often complaining that the assoc­iation was “stonewalling” them on var­ious important financial issues. Since NYRA never viewed itself as being under state control, it more often than not failed to cooperate to the degree which the state would have liked.

All of that is about to change.

Once Gov. Cuomo is in control, there will be a level of financial transparency unprecedented in NYRA history.

But will that be all the new board is interested in?

How much of an impact in the day-to-day operations will it have, and how many of the political appointees will have the necessary knowledge of racing to make informed and intelligent decisions?

How many current NYRA executives will be sent packing? Will current president and COO Ellen McClain survive, or will Oversight Board chairman Robert Megna, who in May stated that he would not recognize the validity of her appointment, get his wish.

But the biggest question of all — for horsemen, for owners and for those who care about racing — may be whether Gov. Cuomo reduces the current VLT revenue stream, which has saved harness racing and which has rejuvenated thoroughbred racing and breeding in New York.

It’s going to be a very interesting, and important, fall.

Clear and 77 degrees at first post Sunday, another gorgeous afternoon.

Fast and very firm, with the portable rails up at nine feet on the inner turf and 12 feet on the Mellon.

It was unofficially Ramon Dominguez day, as the meet’s top jockey rode six winners for the second time at the meet. That gave Dominguez 66 wins, a new Sar­atoga record.

Lost in the Dominguez hoopla was the fact that Javier Castellano rode three winners.

Second Race

Two-year-old maiden fillies

going seven furlongs and firster Cue the Moon ($10.60) overcame sufficient trouble to run down a game Emollient to win by a well measured half-length. The Jim Bond trainee sat an in-behind trip to the head of the stretch, was pretty much stopped cold from upper to mid-stretch, then angled out and around favored Liquid Lunch and Emollient before going on to victory under an easy hand ride. Good education for a filly whose four siblings were all winners.

Nice effort from the runner-up, a Bill Mott-trained daughter of Empire Maker. After showing very little early speed, Emollient steadily moved up, while wide, down the backstretch. She was caught four-wide around the turn, collared Liquid Lunch in upper stretch and fought on before being outfinished. Considering her trip, and given that Mott-trained babies usually improve second time out, watch for Emollient.

Antipathy, a half-sister to $1.3 million earner Scat Daddy, lunged at the break before finishing fifth. Running time was 1:24.30.

Tenth Race

So Many Ways ($9.80), coming off a victory in the opening-day Schuylerville, parlayed a perfect stalking trip into a decisive

21⁄2-length score in the Grade I Spinaway.

With odds-on favorite Teen Paul­ine taking constant pressure from Corail through fractions of :22.29 and :45.13, Javier Castellano and So Many Ways sat chilly a couple of lengths off the embattled leaders. He moved his filly to the favorite around the turn, took over from that one at the 1/8th-pole and never had an anxious moment, as he defeated Sweet Shirley Mae. Teen Pauline held third.

Tony Dutrow, who won last year’s Spinaway with Grace Hall, trains the winner for Maggie Moss. Running time was 1:23.74, or .56 seconds faster than the maiden fillies in the second race.

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