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On December 5, the Board of Directors of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York (representing competing harness racing horsemen at Yonkers Raceway) resolved to donate the sum of $5,000.00 to the Goshen Historic Track located in Goshen, New York. The contribution, which was mailed today, was in recognition of not only the important place the venue holds in our industry, but also in appreciation for the oval's significant role in assisting racing participants in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. During a truly dark Spring for pari-mutuel harness racing in New York State, a bright shining light was provided through the kindness of the Goshen Historic Track trustees. First, through the trustees, SOA of NY director, Ray Schnittker was able to utilize the facility to accommodate an initial number of qualifiers. These races not only prepared horses for their anticipated return to live racing, but also provided necessary charted lines for the horses, as the USTA sanctioned the events for this purpose. After the USTA's approval, the kindness shown by the Historic Track's personnel and the necessary approval of the tracks President Steve Jones, allowed for weeks of qualifiers to be held. The SOA of NY cultivated volunteers to collect fees and helped defray the costs associated with the effort in order to provide a starter, racing office personnel, a USTA qualified Presiding Judge, along with associates and a paddock judge. A teletimer was installed and a company was secured to monitor its proper function on a regular basis, as was a track re-measuring protocol completed. Additionally, the USTA provided an online entry portal and both an ambulance service and disinfecting company were hired.  

Yonkers, NY — The Standardbred Owners Association of New York has contributed $25,000 to the Standardbred Racing Investigative Fund to help meet the challenge of the $250,000 matching fund grant from Hanover Shoe Farms that was announced in April by Hanover Shoe Farms’ President and CEO Russell Williams and Executive Vice President Bridgette Jablonsky to promote integrity in harness racing. The Standardbred Racing Investigative Fund announced its formal launch on Sept. 29. SRIF is a 501(c)(3) corporation formed to fund expert investigations into matters concerning the health and welfare of horses in the harness racing industry, such as prohibited medication practices and fraudulent trainer listings. The SOA of NY encourages other horsemen’s associations, track operators and specifically those individuals most vocally concerned about integrity in harness racing to do whatever they can to assist the SRIF. All contributions should be made out to the Standardbred Racing Investigative Fund and sent to: Standardbred Racing Investigative Fund, P.O. Box 339, Hanover, PA 17331. Additional information regarding the SRIF can be found at the following links. http://ustrottingnews.com/usta-announces-creation-of-standardbred-racing-investigative-fund/ http://ustrottingnews.com/srif-national-investigative-fund-launched-to-protect-horse-welfare-strengthen-integrity/   from the SOA of NY

On Saturday, December 5, 2020 at 3pm, a harness racing meeting of the Board of Directors of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York was held virtually via Zoom Video Conferencing. Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the annual December General Membership meeting of the Association was postponed to an unannounced later date. At the Board of Directors meeting, it was announced that the following, all incumbent Directors, were re-elected without opposition: Michael Forte (Driver/Trainer category) Jordan Stratton (Driver/Trainer category) Tom Ceraso (Owner category) Sandra Kaufman (Owner category) Stanley Noga (Owner category) The following Officers were elected to serve for 1 year terms: Joseph A. Faraldo, President and Executive Committee member Peter Venaglia, 1st Vice President, and Executive Committee member Irv Atherton, 2nd Vice President, Treasurer and Executive Committee member Chris Wittstruck, 3rd Vice President Peter Younger, Secretary The following Executive Committee were elected for 2021: Joseph Faraldo Peter Venaglia Irv Atherton Jordan Stratton The following Trustees of the Retirement and Welfare Funds were elected for 2021: Peter Venaglia (Chairman) Joseph A. Faraldo Irv Atherton Chris Wittstruck Peter Younger Jordan Stratton (1st Alternate) Ray Schnittker (2nd Alternate) Tom Ceraso (3rd Alternate) In addition, the Directors engaged in an extensive discussion regarding the SOA's legislative and administrative priorities for 2021. Additionally, various Directors provided an update concerning the Association's recent interactions with track management regarding a variety of issues.  

YONKERS, N.Y. – Purses at Yonkers Raceway will increase for the week beginning Nov. 8, about seven weeks after Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts Yonkers Raceway reopened to patrons at reduced capacity. The increase will be effective for all classes and on average, represents an approximately 14% bump from current levels. The new purse structure will be as follows: Class of Race Current Purse Purse Effective 11/8/2020 Open $25,000 $30,000 Winners Over $20,000 Last 5 $22,000 $25,000 Non-winners $20,000 Last 5 $17,500 $20,000 Non-winners $15,000 Last 5 $15,000 $17,500 Non-winners $10,000 Last 5 $12,500 $14,000 Non-winners $7,500 Last 5 $10,000 $11,000 Non-winners $5,000 Last 5 $8,500 $9,500 Claiming $30,000 $17,500 $20,000 Claiming $25,000 $15,000 $17,500 Claiming $20,000 $12,500 $14,000 Claiming $15,000 $10,000 $11,000 Claiming $12,500 $8,500 $9,500 Non-winners 8 pari-mutuel races $16,000 $18,000 Non-winners 6 pari-mutuel races $14,000 $16,000 Non-winners 4 pari-mutuel races $12,000 $14,000 Non-winners 2 pari-mutuel races $10,000 $12,000   Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights through Dec. 22. First post time is 7:12 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. From the SOA of NY

The Standardbred Owners Association of New York (SOA of NY) has made every effort to insure a continuity of personal aid and racing from the time of the shutdown of racing at Yonkers Raceway, through the resumption of racing in June and after the recent grant of authority to open the Racino. The cost to the SOA of NY to for aid and for supplementation of the purses account to keep racing going while the Racino was closed was in the neighborhood of $1.4 million dollars. With the advent of the reopening of the Racino at Yonkers, on site play on the VLT machines has resumed. That raises the question as to why, if the Casino can operate at 25% capacity, with attendees, does not the onsite simulcasting and on track wagering by fans get the same consideration? The SOA of NY is petitioning for such approval of simulcasting and on track wagering from leading racing Legislators and from the Executive Branch of State Government. We are hereby requesting that MGM Resorts-Yonkers join in that request and that it bring back many of the key personnel necessary to secure the return of onsite wagering. Of course, much of the wagering is on self-serve betting machines, not very dissimilar from the VLTs. MGM Resorts does an admirable job with its Racino protocols, and there seems to be no reason why those efforts cannot be duplicated consistent with MGM's responsibilities as a NYS licensee, holding a racing and simulcasting license along with its Racino license. The additional revenue from on-track wagering certainly would not hurt the purse account or the NYS Agriculture and Horse Breeding Development Fund (NYSS) which has been negatively impacted by the pandemic as has all of racing and agriculture in NYS. We have endured quite a hit that can negatively impact our industry and its economic multiplier effect to NYS. Racing, as you know, has struggled with no racing, lower revenues that fuel the Agricultural industry in NYS, less racing opportunities and no finally fans on site. The SOA Board of Directors continues to strive towards a return to normalcy. Our cooperative efforts with MGM Resorts has now seen the return of live racing next week on a five day per week schedule with still reduced purses and 9 races per card. It is anticipated that we will see that number of races per day slowly increase and the purses themselves begin to slowly crawl their way higher in the near future. Those achievements will only be possible through a careful analysis of the economic trends that we hope -- and are optimistic -- will continue on the rise The SOA of NY Board of Directors' wish to thank our member for the confidence shown in our judgments so far, as well as your support and cooperation in those efforts. From Joe Faraldo fro the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – For Ron Buker, part of the fun of owning Standardbred racehorses is sharing the experience with the whole family. That’s why on race nights, Ron, his wife Briana, and their three children all gather in front of the TV to root the harness racing horses on and share quality time together. “What really got me into buying more horses was I have three kids. When we turn the TV on to watch the horses race, they would say, ‘daddy, there’s your horse.’ I would say, ‘no, this horse is all of ours.’ That’s priceless, a bond like that,” Buker said. “The kids absolutely love horses. When the horses do race on TV, we all sit together and watch, get excited. Win or lose, it’s a priceless moment with everybody together having a good time.” Buker was a longtime patron of Dover Downs before he relocated to South Carolina for work. He always dreamed of being more than just a fan and took the plunge in January 2019, becoming an owner on the Delaware circuit. In the short time since, Buker or his Bukers Stable expanded to racing across the U.S., starting horses in 289 races. Horses owned wholly or in part by the Bukers have won 56 races, placed in another 86 and earned $634,009. The stable has also raced horses in Australia.  “I owned one and it wins, then you get the itch; you buy another one and then the next thing you know, you have a bunch of them,” Buker said. One of the stars in Buker’s current lineup of 12 horses is Lady Dela Renta, an Australian-bred Well Said daughter who’s won three straight races at Yonkers and will try to make it four in a row in the $25,000 filly and mare open handicap pace Thursday night (Sept. 17). Imported to the U.S. last summer, Lady Dela Renta made an immediate impact, earning a 1:49.2 lifetime mark at Pocono in just her third Stateside start Sept. 3, 2019 for Blindswitch Racing and Dolne Farm. Bukers Stable joined the partnership this February and as of Aug. 27, assumed sole ownership of the standout mare. Lady Dela Renta looked to be a rising star last fall and winter, scoring a neck win in the local filly and mare open handicap Oct. 4, 2019 and three open wins at Saratoga from October to December. She entered the first leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series at Yonkers March 13, but when the series was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, she headed to the Midwest. Lady Dela Renta was winless in four starts in the distaff open at Scioto Downs before her connections made a change. “When she was out there in Ohio, she wasn’t racing to her full potential. Since she is an Australian horse, I knew the one trainer who would be the best for her was (Shane and Lauren Tritton’s) Team Tritton. I called (Shane) up and said, ‘I want to send her to you, you’re going to be the best for her.’ He said he liked her in Australia and they would gladly take her,” Buker said. “They take really, really good care of her. I think she’s Lauren’s pet,” Buker said. “They key behind it all is taking care of the horse. They’re not out there racing her every single week and hard racing her. It’s not all about drying all the money out of her right away, it’s taking care of a good horse.” After making her last Scioto start July 10, Lady Dela Renta qualified with Lauren Tritton in the sulky at Yonkers July 31. She scorched the track with a 1:52.2 victory, pacing a final quarter of :27.2. Lady Dela Renta then posted three straight pari-mutuel wins at Yonkers with Jordan Stratton driving: a 3 3/4-length win in a $15,500 overnight Aug. 13 and back-to-back wins at the $18,000 level by 1 length and 3 1/4 lengths, respectively Aug. 20 and Sept. 3. “With her, it’s the right trainer for the right horse,” Buker said. “It just goes to show that if you take care of the horse - because they aren’t machines - they’ll take care of you and then they show their full potential. “When they qualified her, that was a wow factor. She came back and won the first race, second race, and then the last race. This is for real here, she’s on a roll,” Buker said. “I think the first race stood out because I was anxious to see her in the first start with Shane and Lauren. After the first race, there was a lot of excitement. I think the last race stood out because she was in with a good group of horses and it looked like she won with ease.” Lady Dela Renta drew post three in Thursday night’s feature and will have Stratton in the bike again. The pair are the 3-1 second choice on the morning line. Favored at 5-2 is Snobbytown, a Ron Burke trainee who twice won and twice finished second in this local feature in four starts between June 23 and July 30 (her last pari-mutuel outing). She will return tonight off a runner up finish to Caviart Ally in a Meadowlands qualifier Sept. 5.  The field also includes Neverforgetwhour, who like Lady Dela Renta, streaks into this filly and mare open handicap with three straight wins; she won local $15,500 overnights by a head, nose, and 1 length Aug. 13, Aug, 27, and Sept. 3, respectively. With regular driver Stratton opting for Lady Dela Renta, Scott Zeron gets the call on the 9-2 shot on the morning line. Coral Bella, who steps up off a win in the non-winners of eight condition last out, Robyn Camden, Apple Bottom Jeans, and Imprincessgemma complete the lineup. “I know we’re in with good company, but if any horse is ready to go 4-for-4, it’s her. She’s got the perfect draw, perfect spot. Jordan is the key man. He knows the horse, loves the horse, and when you can get a driver that loves and knows the horse like he does, you can’t lose,” Buker said. “We haven’t seen her best yet,” he continued. “She hasn’t been unleashed yet; Her best definitely is yet to come. She hasn’t let it all out and I think we’re going to see a little glimpse of it (tonight).” Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights through Dec. 22. First post time is 7:12 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, N.Y. – Longtime Standardbred owner and experienced businessman Pat O’Brien has joined the Standardbred Owners Association of New York as Executive Director.  O’Brien’s venture into the harness racing world began in 2008 when he began going to the track with friend and Standardbred owner George Hartman. O’Brien was instantly intrigued and spent six months studying all aspects of the game, and in particular, horse ownership. O’Brien became an owner in 2008. He started with just two horses and his stable grew. To date, he has owned or co-owned 137 Standardbreds who have started in over 1,600 races. O’Brien prides himself on attending his horses’ races in person as often as possible and introducing new fans to the sport. “I always say, who doesn’t like a horse? You may have people who don’t like dogs, don’t like cats. You never hear a person say they don’t like horses. They are beautiful animals,” O’Brien said. “Every time I bring neighbors, friends to the racetrack, bring them into the paddock before and after the race, they are just amazed by these animals. They can’t believe how quiet and content they are before and after the race, how they’re not high strung. I’m also one of the few owners who always bring carrots for the horses after the races.” O’Brien’s most notable horse to date is Act Now, a $40,000 buy from the 2012 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale who won 11 of 38 starts and earned $534,539. The multiple stakes winner’s resume includes a 5 1/2-length win in the Lady Maud at Yonkers in 2014.  “The best thing about that race, I was there with about 20 people. I had my cousin from Ireland, his wife and their three boys were out for the race. That was tremendous. I have that picture hanging up in the living room. She was clearly my top horse,” O’Brien said. O’Brien earned a degree in business from Nassau Community College in 1986 and a degree in Business Management from Long Island University in 1989. He worked at Ford Motor Credit Company until 2009, reaching the level of Branch Manager before the Great Recession hit. O’Brien then took his passion for harness racing full time, focusing on his Pat O’Brien’s Irish Stable. In his free time, O’Brien, a son of Irish immigrants, enjoys spending time with his four siblings and 10 nephews and nieces. “I worked over 20 years in the automobile financing business, not at a dealership, but in the corporate world,” O’Brien said. “Unfortunately, when the financial crisis hit, Ford Motor Credit Company closed all their offices. I decided not to go back to work. During that time period, I went from owning two horses to 13. All the sudden, I was basically a full-time horse owner.” O’Brien said he was thrilled to be offered the position of Executive Director at the SOA of NY after a series of phone calls, Zoom interviews, and finally an in-person interview.  O’Brien’s priorities in his new position include establishing a great working relationship with MGM Yonkers Raceway, protecting the interests of the horsepeople who compete at Yonkers Raceway, assisting in negotiating a contract renewal between the track and the horsepeople, and ensuring the SOA of NY operates efficiently and effectively.  “The SOA’s Personnel Committee received hundreds of resumes from individuals regarding the Executive Director position and conducted numerous interviews in an effort to find the right person to help the SOA deal with the numerous important issues affecting our members,” said Peter Venaglia, SOA of NY First Vice-President and Chairman of the Personnel Committee.  “Pat clearly stood out as the best of a number of well-qualified candidates due to his obvious passion for and commitment to harness racing that he has displayed as a very involved owner for many years,” Venaglia continued. “We welcome Pat aboard, and we know that our members will benefit greatly from Pat’s efforts on their behalf.” by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

According to an announcement by the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, there will not be an upcoming shutdown of racing at Yonkers Raceway, which had previously stated that racing would be taking a break after Saturday, September 12. Standardbred Owners Association of New York President Joe Faraldo has announced that, as a result of the SOA of NY covering purses for a number of weeks and an agreement reached with MGM Resorts Yonkers, there will not be a shutdown of racing at the track. Faraldo has stated that racing at Yonkers will continue next week on the same four-day schedule and that, thereafter, Yonkers racing will return to a five-day-per-week schedule through December 22. Faraldo also went on to announce that purses will remain at current levels until a build up in the purse account is seen. From the SOA of NY

Yonkers, NY - Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts (“Empire City”) and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York (“SOA”), the organization representing horsemen at Yonkers Raceway, announced an agreement to extend racing at the historic harness track through Saturday, September 12th. This will allow for the New York Night of Champions to proceed as scheduled on September 12th, which will showcase the best trotters and pacers bred in New York State “In partnership with the SOA, we are excited to be able to continue harness racing operations despite the continued closure and loss of revenue from our casino operation,” said Ed Domingo, senior vice president of Empire City. “This agreement further demonstrates our commitment to the sport and to the men and women employed by the horse racing industry.” Racing prize purses are funded primarily through gross gaming revenue generated by Empire City Casino and casino operations remain suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With limited funds available in the prize pool and no continued funding stream due to the casino closure, racing operations were expected to cease in August. However, MGM Resorts has agreed to continue racing operations and the SOA will contribute $1.2 million to purses from their reserve fund to allow the sport to continue operating through September 12th. “We recognize the hardships our horsemen have suffered during the pandemic,” said Joe Faraldo, president of the SOA. “We have chosen to take $1.2 million from our treasury in order to supplement the purse account and allow us to continue racing until the NYSS Night of Champions September 12th.” While the agreement allows for the preservation of the New York Sire Stakes races, several other stakes races scheduled for later in the year will be eliminated because of the limited purse funds. Those cancellations include the Yonkers Trot and Messenger Stakes. The racing schedule at Yonkers Raceway was interrupted earlier in the season with a temporary closure of the track due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Live racing operations resumed June 22nd with extensive health and safety protocols in place. Pursuant to state and health guidelines, spectators are not permitted at Yonkers Raceway but races are simulcast and available for viewing and wagering online at www.EmpireCityBets.com. As always, the health and safety of our customers and employees remains our top priority. For more information on the race schedule, please visit www.EmpireCityCasino.com. From Yonkers Raceway

NEW YORK -- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that harness racing across the state will be allowed to reopen as of June 1 without fans. As the state moves forward with their phased reopening, Cuomo said they are also looking to open economic activities without crowds or gatherings. "If you can have economic activity without a crowd, that's great," he said. "We can do that in this state horse racing tracks and we're going to do that." Cuomo said there will be be guidelines for the actual participants. The horse racing venues that will be opening up are as follows: - Aqueduct Racetrack - Batavia Downs - Belmont Park - Buffalo Raceway - Finger Lakes Racetrack - Monticello Raceway - Saratoga Race Course - Saratoga Raceway - Tioga Downs - Vernon Downs - Yonkers Raceway Cuomo added the reopening of the Watkins Glen International racetrack, which will be able to open on June 1 without fans. When asked about baseball, the governor said there is a large number of maintenance staff and support staff that has to be accounted for. He questioned about social distancing measures.  

The Standardbred Owners Association of New York has announced that it will be providing a second grant to qualified harness racing grooms (those who have paddocked horses more than a threshold number of racing nights) in order to further assist them during the shutdown of racing at Yonkers Raceway. Last month, the SOANY provided a stipend of $400, and an additional payment of $400 is being issued this week. The SOANY is working collaboratively with government officials to move towards the resumption of racing at Yonkers Raceway. In the meantime we recognize the economic hardships being faced by our grooms throughout this period, said Joseph Faraldo, President of the SOANY. The grooms play a vital role in caring for our horses, and their continued hard work during the coming weeks will be vital as we quite literally try to get our horses back on track, added Faraldo.

The Standardbred Owners Association of New York is pleased to announce that the 2020/21 SOA of NY John R. Brennan/MGM Yonkers Scholarship Application and Rules are available. The Scholarship awards a $5,000 first prize, $3,000 second prize and $2,000 third prize. Application deadline is May 31, 2020. The Scholarship applicant or his/her immediate family member must be a 2020 SOA of NY member in good standing. Or the applicant can be an immediate family member of a Backstretch employee (caretaker) covered by the SOA Welfare Plan. “Immediate family” means spouse or child. Either the applicant or their parents must have participated at Yonkers Raceway in the last 12 months as an owner, trainer, driver or caretaker. For a complete list of rules and eligibility please click here. For the application, click here.

Yonkers, NY — To all owners and trainers: The procedure as far as the SOA of NY has learned is that commencing April 29 and continuing on April 30 and May 1, the trainers currently in possession of any and all horses requiring hair follicle testing must call this number (845.794.5061) after 9 a.m. on the dates indicated above if they intend to bring horses to Monticello Raceway to have hair samples drawn. Most likely the following week is when you will get an appointment, perhaps on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Out of state people may have to contact Dr. Scott Palmer as indicated on the Directive, which may be read at this link. We do not have information for the contact person or number at the other two tracks (Buffalo or Saratoga), but assume that will be made available to inquirers through either Scott Palmer or Brian Barry at the NYS Gaming Commission. from the SOA of NY

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) recently conducted two useful webinars regarding the federal programs contained in the CARES Act designed to provide relief to small businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak. The webinars focused on the racing industry, with particular attention to the potential relief for trainers, including loans under the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) which provides loans which have the potential to be converted into outright grants provided that the proceeds are used for the appropriate specified purposes. The links to the webinars are as follows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puoifion740&feature=emb_rel_end https://youtu.be/tH15W1dPzhc Every individual’s situation is unique, and it is therefore important that you consult with your financial and legal advisors in connection with your pursuit of relief under the CARES Act.  

The Standardbred Owners Association of New York has announced that it will be providing grants to qualified grooms in order to assist them during the temporary shutdown of harness racing at Yonkers Raceway.  The qualified grooms (those who have paddocked horses more than a threshold number of racing nights) will be receiving a subsidy of $400.  The payments will be sent out during the week of April 6th. “The grooms who paddock the horses at Yonkers Raceway have seen their income disappear due to no fault of their own,” said Joseph Faraldo, President of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York.  “They provide an important contribution by providing care to our equine athletes before and after they compete at the track.  The grant is designed to assist them until we can resume racing and the grooms can get back to doing their job and we can all get back to the sport we love,” added Faraldo. Standardbred Owners Association of New York

It has been reported that John Brennan, chairman of USTA District 12 and a  native of Rockaway Beach, N.Y, has passed away. He was 69. He was the first reported death in New Jersey from the coronavirus.  He was hospitalized at Hackensack University Medical Center last Friday, and had conditions that included emphysema, diabetes and hypertension, said state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. He suffered a heart attack Monday night and was revived, but died Tuesday morning after a second heart attack, Persichilli said. Brennan had not recently traveled outside the United States, she said. Brennan finished school in 1968 and worked as a steamfitter for four years before he began his career in harness racing in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Has been training horses for more than 40 years, racing stables in New York and New Jersey. He won the 1995 Merrie Annabelle with Missy Will Do It. Was previously part-owner and trainer of Sugar Trader, winner of the 2003 Yonkers Trot and runner-up in the 2003 Hambletonian. He was on the board of the SOA of N.Y. for more than 30 years, an HHI delegate for more than 20 years, and a USTA director for 22 years. He was currently the horsemen’s representative at Yonkers Raceway.  More information on funeral service will be posted when available.  by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink  

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