The Racing and Wagering Board today (Tuesday September 21) approved a new rule aimed at enhancing the ability of New York horsemen to compete consistently throughout the year at New York harness racing tracks.
The amendment to the harness rules authorizes New York State tracks to write condition or claiming races, as and when appropriate, restricting entries to horses that have competed in New York State for the majority of their most recent starts, provided that the track card at least one equivalent race without the restriction on the same or next race date.
"This revision will be particularly beneficial to New York horsemen during winter months, times when tracks in nearby states are closed," Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John D. Sabini said. "Because horsemen from these other states flock to New York during these times, some New York horsemen have been placed at a disadvantage.
"While our revision is preferential, it is not exclusionary. The New York regulars who are here consistently should not be frozen out in the cold when winter rolls around."
The revision, passed unanimously by Chairman Sabini and fellow Board Members Daniel Hogan and Charles Diamond, is slated to become effective Oct. 13.
Chairman Sabini credited George Casale of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York for his assistance with the preference rule.
The Board also gave initial approval to a demonstration project that will allow harness tracks to designate a specific area of the paddock where mobile telephones may be utilized by persons authorized to enter the paddock. The initiative, which is subject to review by the Governor's Office of Regulatory Reform before it is implemented, will be evaluated after it is in place for one year.
Chairman Sabini thanked driver-trainer-owner Ray Schnittker, a member of the Harness Writers Association Hall of Fame, for his input on the mobile phone initiative.