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Letter To The Editor: NYRA Disrespected Customers With Timing Of Surface Change Announcement – Horse Racing News


The New York Racing Association (NYRA) continues to disrespect its customers in its greedy pursuit of revenue. Both this past weekend and the weekend prior, decisions about surface changes were made last minute, depriving the bettor of an opportunity to make informed decisions on wagers.

On  Aug. 6.  in the fourth race (inner turf) the number seven horse, Ever Summer, broke down on the final turn. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. was taken via ambulance to first aid and returned to ride the fifth.  Ever Summer, sadly, was euthanized. Earlier in that same race, number one, Frivole (FR), was pulled up. Apparently jockey Manny Franco perceived some issue with the horse or the surface.

It is assumed that these unfortunate incidents led to the decision to move races seven, nine, and ten to the dirt. No spectator (to my knowledge) has any problem with management’s decision in this case. The issue is the timing. The announcement was made over the public address system at Saratoga with zero minutes to post for race six. This was literally seconds before the gate opened for the sixth race – seconds before the pick 5 pool closed. Bettors had no opportunity to review scratches, distance, and surface changes. This was over one hour after the fourth race had ended – more than ample time to make this important decision in the interest of safety.

The sixth race ran, and the mutual payments were delayed. I was told by a NYRA employee that management was contemplating a decision. This puzzled me. What decision were they pondering? They had already made their decision about the surfaces. After a delay of ten minutes or so, the sixth race mutuels were posted, and the announcer declared that the pick 5 would pay “ALL” in races seven, nine, and ten.

According to the New York State Gaming Commission rules 4011.25.(f) if the scratches aren’t in before the pool closes, the bettor should receive the post time favorite if their live ticket contains scratched horses. Rule 4011.25.(i) states that if the surface change is announced after the pool closes, the carded turf races (now dirt) should pay “ALL” numbers.

This is hardly the first time this has happened with NYRA. The events of this past Sunday at the Spa leave me with several questions, and I don’t even know who to ask.

  • Who ultimately makes the decision on the pool? How was NYRA able to circumvent the Gaming Commission Rules?
  • How is NYRA held accountable? Who ultimately questions the performance of their management?
  • Why do major racing media outlets avoid challenging NYRA when they mistreat their customers?

If NYRA is sincerely interested in serving its customers, there needs to be a mechanism for the fan voice to be heard.

— Fred Coppola, Horseplayer, New York


If you would like to submit a letter to the editor, please write to info at and include contact information where you may be reached if editorial staff have any questions.





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