By Gene Kershner
Earlier this month, New York State Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John D. Sabini, who was the subject of a News interview in August, announced members of the Racing Fan Advisory Council, which will provide input and advice to the Board on horse racing and wagering matters in New York State.
The council consists of individuals steeped in thoroughbred and harness racing, as well as off-track betting enterprises. The council will examine the “total racing experience” and report its findings to the Board. The council, formalized by the Racing and Wagering Board in June, is composed of long-term horse racing fans, selected on their involvement, interest, knowledge and devotion to the sport.
The members include:
- Chair: Patrick M. Connors, Professor of Law, Albany Law School
- Michael F. Amo, Chair and Co-Founder, ThoroFan
- Allan Carter, Historian, The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame
- M. Kelly Young, Associate Director of National Affairs, New York Farm Bureau
The racing fan advisory council’s mission is to grow of the fan base related to the sport of horse racing by:
- Recommending procedures to ensure that the opinion of the fan is a central part of the regulation of horse racing and advising the Board on issues related to horse racing and wagering.
- Advising the Board on appropriate actions to encourage fan attendance and wagering at the state's thoroughbred and harness racetracks and the state's off-track betting corporations.
- Visiting Board-controlled racetracks and facilities during race times, workouts, and during hours when members of the media are permitted to be present at the facilities.
- Advising the Board on the creation and development of an "I LOVE NY Racing" promotion.
- Giving an annual, nonmonetary award to both a thoroughbred and standardbred breeding farm in NYS that has worked to promote horse racing in New York.
- Recommending changes to the rules of the Board and to the laws affecting horse racing.
- Preparing an annual report to the Board regarding the operation of the state's thoroughbred and harness racetracksand the state's off-track betting corporations.
A fifth member of the council will be named at a later date and each member will serve a five-year unpaid term.
The council, likely the first of its kind in the country, was pushed through by Chairman Sabini and recognizes the racing fan as a key stakeholder in the future of the sport.
In speaking with Michael Amo earlier in the week, he encourages horse racing fans in Western New York to have a voice through this council. “Any issues or questions that a fan wants to bring to light, provides him/her with a vehicle to communicate their concerns,” said Amo, who co-founded ThoroFan, a 501(c)3 organization headquartered in Saratoga Springs. “We will be soliciting fan concerns and horseplayer issues at the ThoroFan website.”
While it is unknown how much influence a group like this will have at the end of the day, the recognition of the fan and having the ear of the Racing Board certainly bodes well for those who support the industry with their pocketbooks.
This week’s race of the week is the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby, to be run for $1 million at Parx Racing in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon with nine 3-year-old colts going 1 1/8-miles. The race features Belmont champion Ruler On Ice (5-2), Travers runner-up Rattlesnake Bridge (4-1) and one time Derby hopeful To Honor and Serve (3-1).
- For only the second time in history, the Pennsylvania Derby will feature a Triple Crown winner. Ruler On Ice will get a new rider, with top flight jock Garrett Gomez taking over for Jose Valdivia, Jr. Prince of Wales champion Pender Harbor (12-1) will venture outside of Canada for the first time to take on a solid group of colts looking to cash a big slots-fueled check.
- The Kentucky Cup series is being revived this weekend after a one-year hiatus. With the help of new sponsor, WinStar Farm, the series of five races, three of which are graded will be run this weekend at Turfway Park.
- Equibase will hold a free online handicapping challenge this weekend featuring the Kentucky Cup races from Turfway and several from Belmont Park.
- Mike Repole is pointing Uncle Mo at the Breeders’ Cup Classic, along with stable-mate and Travers champion Stay Thirsty. Most racing pundits figured Mo would be headed to the Dirt Mile, as he has never competed at the Classic 1 1/4-mile distance. Uncle Mo is scheduled to go in the Kelso Mile on Super Saturday at Belmont next weekend, while Stay Thirsty will compete in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, a key prep race for the Classic. Stay tuned.