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Woody Allen’s Bananas is one of the all time classic comedy flicks. To impress a love interest, the Allen character travels to the mythical banana republic of San Marcos to help a band of revolutionaries oust its ruthless ruler. When the revolutionaries prove successful, their leader declares himself El Presidente, and immediately pronounces that the nation’s new official language is Swedish; that underwear will be worn on the outside at all times and that all children under sixteen… are now sixteen! Real laws can sometimes appear to be as ridiculous as fictional ones. Laws often sound absurd because the facts and circumstances that justified their promulgation have drastically changed. Consider that until relatively recently it was still illegal in New York City to shoot pigeons off the decades-ago extinct Fifth Avenue trolley. Occasionally, deep-rooted traditions are clung to long after everyone else has discarded them. So, while most American jurisdictions have abandoned laws preventing retail businesses from operating on the Christian Sabbath, Bergen County, New Jersey still enforces so-called “Sunday blue laws.” Then again, some real laws appear ridiculous simply because they are ridiculous. Is there a check or limit on what laws a legislature may create? The only true test is whether the law squares with the Constitution. Unless completely devoid of all logic, an otherwise constitutional law will stand. In a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld a completely arcane law concerning the election of judges, Justice John Paul Stevens took note that his late colleague, Justice Thurgood Marshal, was quite fond of saying, “The Constitution does not prohibit legislatures from enacting stupid laws.” While legislatures have wide latitude in their power to make laws, administrative agencies are much more restricted in their ability to pass rules and regulations. The distinction is important, because in most jurisdictions, harness racing is heavily controlled via administrative rulemaking. As a creation of the legislature, an administrative agency may only act in the limited manner that the statute which enables it permits. In most jurisdictions, when an administrative regulation is challenged by someone affected, it will be upheld only if it has a rational basis and is not unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious. In other words, the rule must not just be constitutional; it must also make sense. The additional strictures placed upon administrative rulemaking are many. In New York, for example, the State Administrative Procedure Act mandates that an agency consider in its rulemaking the utilization of approaches which are designed to avoid undue deleterious economic effects or overly burdensome impacts of the rule upon persons. Further, New York law requires agencies to prepare a ‘needs and benefits statement’ for each proposed regulation setting forth the purpose of, necessity for, and benefits derived from the rule. Moreover, the agency must provide a citation for and summary, not to exceed five hundred words, of each scientific or statistical study, report or analysis that served as the basis for the rule, an explanation of how it was used to determine the necessity for and benefits derived from the rule, and the name of the person that produced each study, report or analysis. Additionally, New York specifically requires administrative agencies to give due consideration to the impact a proposed regulation may have on small businesses and rural areas, and to provide  flexibility, even to the extent of exempting some from coverage by the rule, or by any part thereof, so long as the public health, safety or general welfare is not endangered. Further, unlike legislated laws, rules and regulations proposed by agencies must undergo a public comment period before their enactment is considered final. In this vein, the agency may choose to hold a public hearing to better understand how proposed rules impact communities, industries or segments thereof. Against this backdrop, the New York State Gaming Commission recently considered a series of proposals put forth by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium in the RMTC’s quest to establish uniform medication rules in all racing jurisdictions. While the official position of the United States Trotting Association is that uniformity across the states is desired, the USTA requires that the standardized rules must comport with the specific needs of harness racing. In this regard, the RMTC proposals have in many ways proven to be centered solely on the wants and desires of Thoroughbred racing, as well as the customary training and racing attributes of their horses, without the least bit of concern for the Standardbred industry. The RMTC pitch regarding the administration of Clenbuterol is but one glaring example. Clenbuterol is a therapeutic medication used as a bronchodilator. While some question its effectiveness, others swear by its curative and restorative qualities, and urge that there are no legitimate alternatives to treat common respiratory ailments in horses. At least one scientist has put forth a study that long term use of the drug could be associated with heart failure. Yet, neither the purported safety nor efficacy of the medication was the driving force behind the RMTC’s submission to the various racing commissions. The RMTC’s position is that prolonged use of Clenbuterol has a ‘repartitioning’ effect in horses. This means that in certain quantities over certain periods the substance may turn fat into muscle, and thus has a mechanism ostensibly similar to anabolic steroids. Does it, and if it does, how long of an administration is required to cause such an effect? In truth, there are no good peer reviewed scientific studies on the matter. Nonetheless, RMTC recommends that the Clenbuterol withdrawal time for all racehorses be established at 14 days. This means that any administration of the medication given at any time within the 14 day period before a race would be a violation. Such administration would be determined by a scientifically-established threshold. If a race day specimen contained more than the threshold, the assumption would be that the medication was given within the prohibited timeframe. In New York, the previous Clenbuterol withdrawal time for both breeds was 96 hours. The Thoroughbred rule was recently changed to 14 days, and late last year the Gaming Commission proposed a similar 14-day withdrawal time for Standardbreds. Are Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds the same animal? Hardly. While classified as the same species, Standardbreds have been a closed breed since the late 1800s, with Thoroughbreds being a pure breed for at least a century before. It doesn’t require a science degree to perceive that the breeds are distinguishable in both the conformation and temperament of its members. Some argue that despite the foregoing, there remains a physiological identity to all horses. On this point, consider that there is an open question as to whether the supposed increase in muscle mass some attribute to the medication occurs with equal effect, or at all, in Standardbreds. One consideration is that Thoroughbreds have a high percentage of fast-twitch skeletal muscle fibers, while Standardbreds fall into an intermediate range. Such fact would infer that the purported repartitioning effect cannot be lumped upon the entire species. Again, studies are sparse, and legitimate studies involving racehorses are non-existent.   Even more relevant, while members of both breeds might share an equal 64 chromosomes, the marked differences in both the husbandry and placement in service of the distinct breed members are undeniable. Gaits, surfaces, feeding and training routines are all patently dissimilar. The glaring difference, however, is in the frequency with which the breed members compete. The average Thoroughbred makes fewer than 7 starts per year. Whether due to physical necessity or the lack of opportunity offered by the condition book, most runners get several weeks off between races. Standardbreds, on the other hand, race weekly during most of the year. This is especially true when a horse is competing in a high-end elimination series. Thus, the irony is that while a 14-day rule would still present ample opportunity for “loading-up” Thoroughbreds with Clenbuterol for non-therapeutic purposes, the rule for once-a-week harness horses would simply prevent use of the medication as a legitimate treatment option. What is more, the present 96 hour rule prevents an ulterior illicit use of the medication in weekly-competing Standardbreds, since the administration of the substance would be limited to scant days between races. In sum, a 14 day withdrawal rule for Standardbreds would not simply be nonsensical, but also would prove to completely damaging to the health, safety and welfare of horses that industry regulators are charged to protect. It is for all the foregoing reasons that the USTA, in conjunction with New York’s harness horsemen and assisted by equine scientists and practicing veterinarians, made its case against the 14-day rule in a January public hearing before the N.Y. Gaming Commission.   Subsequent to the hearing, the Commission proposed a modified rule. The modification retains a 96 hour pre-race withdrawal period for harness racing, with the exception that if the horse has not raced for a period in excess of 30 days and needs to qualify, that the 14 day withdrawal rule will be in effect for its first race back. In this regard, the Commission has acted in a way consistent with its mandate to do what is both rational and sensible while protecting the health and safety of the horses and the welfare of the horsemen and wagering public. The breed-specific rule ensures that competing harness horses will not denied a necessary therapeutic medication, and also makes certain that one on an extended layoff will not be administered the substance in a way that might cause performance enhancement. Perhaps RMTC will take the hint. Authoritarian regulations that provide strict and inflexible blanket commands which intentionally ignore conspicuous nuances so as to affect one segment of an industry over others might be expected from the ruling junta in San Marcos. Such edicts shouldn’t be generated by a group that is purported to be based in science and objectivity. Finally, those that believe they can steamroll ill-advised rules by threatening the resistant with government intervention and oversight should take pause; New York government just joined the resistance. Chris E. Wittstruck is an attorney, a director of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York and a charter member of the Albany Law School Racing and Gaming Law Network.

Six weeks ago USTA Director Joe Faraldo was leading a contingent to Vincennes Racetrack in Paris, France with the specific intention of sealing an international simulcast agreement between the U.S. Trotting Association and the French Trotting Organization (Le Trot). He was joined on that endeavor by Yonkers Raceway president, Tim Rooney, Alex Dadoyan, the executive director of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York , Mike Kimelman, president of Blue Chip Farms as well as a interested group of SOA of NY members and associates. Last night (March6) at Yonkers Raceway Faraldo won the second division of a trotting series sponsored by the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA). He shared the limelight with David Glasser, a business professional who recently re-joined the amateur driving movement. For both gentlemen drivers their victories were their first of the 2014 season. Faraldo's win came behind his own Rodeo Red in a time of 2:02.4 while Glasser won with JS Miss Linda, a trotting mare that he owns in a 2:03.1 clocking,. In his contest, Faraldo sat back off the early pace and then rallied in the deep stretch to a length victory after trailing the Carbon Footprint (Dave Yarock ) by three lengths as the field headed for home. Yarock's trotter held on for the place money and Tony Verruso took home the show dough with Sam's Honeybee. "When my horse is right he's a nice trotter and he was right tonight," Faraldo said after his victory and then added with tongue in cheek, "Even a blind squirrel gets an acorn every now and then." For Faraldo the victory was the 138th of his amateur driving career. En route to his victory Glasser used a two hole journey with JS Miss linda to overtake the pace-setter Get Packin (Bob Hechkoff) as the field rounded the final turn and then they went on to score a two length triumph in 2:03.1. Get Packin was second best and Hardrockinjessica finished third for Monica Banca. Glasser,47, has been in and around in harness racing his entire life since his parents Arthur and Evelyn Glasser owned and raced standardbreds for decades. It was his 20th career driving victory. Glasser began his amateur career in 1980 and except for a few seasons he never drove more than six races a year. Since 1991 he has driven just 28 times and his last victory came during the 1991campaign. and it was said that he truly celebrated his latest triumph. "I did some celebrating last night since this win was a longtime coming," Glasser said. By John Manzi for the North American Amateur Driving Association  

The rules of harness racing are dictated by the state where the racing activity occurs. All racing ovals are situated within the boundaries of a certain state. By virtue of inherent police power to protect the health, safety and morals of its citizens, each sovereign state independently determines how our sport is conducted. On this score, consider that medication regulations are solely within the purview of the individual state governments. When regulations are deemed to be "uniform," that identity happens only because each of the participating states adopt mirror image rules. Even if they appear to be the same or substantially similar from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the rules are, in fact, unique to each state. Licensing is a function of the state as well and, as everyone in our industry is aware, being licensed in one state in no way guarantees that a license will issue in others.  Federal law was created by the states. The promulgation of the U.S. Constitution was accomplished only because the independent colonies agreed to abdicate a very limited amount of their respective powers to a federal government for the greater good of all. As powerful as the federal government may at times seem, it can only act if a constitutional provision allows it to do so. In the racing realm, the sparse instances of federal regulation occur based upon the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. That provision reserves solely to Congress the regulation of commerce across state lines. It makes perfect sense. Imagine if each state developed their own regulations for the size and shape of mud guards on the rear of tractor trailers. Truck drivers would be required to carry scores of different flaps, and to stop and change the flaps at the border of each state. In fact, 55 years ago the U.S. Supreme Court struck down just such state regulations as unconstitutional burdens on interstate commerce. Thus, the Interstate Commerce Clause permits the federal government to regulate things such as interstate simulcasting and the transportation of horses across state lines. So, what about a state law or regulation that prohibits the interstate movement of racehorses for periods of time? Can such rules pass constitutional muster, or should they be struck down as being in conflict with the Interstate Commerce Clause as unnecessarily impeding the free flow of business among the states? These questions are not hypothetical. Several states have regulations geared towards ensuring that there are always enough horses to fill race cards at meets. Both the Pennsylvania Code and New York regulations dictate that a harness horse may not race at a track other than the track where claimed for 30 days or the balance of the current racing meeting, whichever comes first, unless released by the racing secretary. In Maryland, the rules bar a claimed harness horse from racing outside the state for 60 days if the claim was at Rosecroft, or for 30 days if the claim was at Ocean Downs, unless the respective meet ends sooner. Delaware regulations contain a blanket 60 day prohibition on racing a claimed horse out of the state without approval of the track where the horse was claimed. May a state prohibit an owner from immediately racing a claimed horse in another state? That was exactly the question decided by the Kentucky Court of Appeals last month. The case, Jamgotchian v. Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, was brought by a Thoroughbred owner who claimed a horse at Churchill Downs in Kentucky in May of 2011. Under Kentucky Thoroughbred rules, the horse was not permitted to race outside the state until the Churchill meet ended on July 4, 2011. In June, the owner entered the horse at Penn National Race Course in Pennsylvania. The racing secretary, in consultation with Churchill officials, rejected the entry based upon the Kentucky regulation. The owner claimed that the Kentucky prohibition violated the Federal Interstate Commerce Clause. In its ruling, the court stated that the test to be employed was whether, a) the challenged law is protectionist in measure, or; b) whether it can fairly be viewed as a law directed to legitimate local concerns, with effects upon interstate commerce that are only incidental. In other words, the court initially indicated that not every state regulation affecting interstate commerce is unconstitutional. In applying the test to the regulation in question, the court first reasoned that the general regulation of horse racing is both a traditional and legitimate state function, and is thus a valid exercise of Kentucky’s police power. In its analysis, the court pointed out that out of the thirty-eight states that permit wagering on horse racing, twenty-seven states have a claiming law similar to Kentucky's regulation. In sum, state regulation of claiming is pervasive across the United States. As to whether the regulation is protectionist or discriminatory, the court pointed out that the regulation applied evenly to both in-state and out-of-state licensees. Also, it determined that the effect on interstate commerce is incidental, inasmuch as the prohibition was strictly limited to horses acquired in the claiming realm. The court reasoned that the aggrieved owner could have purchased a horse privately or at an auction sale, and could have freely and immediately raced that purchase elsewhere. Finally, the court concluded that the regulation was limited in duration and scope, inasmuch as it banned transport out of state for racing for only the duration of the meet, which at the outside was just three months. To read the full text of the case, click here:,33&as_ylo=2014 While Kentucky upheld the regulation, it is unclear whether a federal court would agree with the reasoning of the Court of Appeals. That just might be Mr. Jamgotchian’s next move. By Chris E. Wittstruck, who is an attorney, a director of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York and a charter member of the Albany Law School Racing and Gaming Law Network.

YONKERS, NY, Friday, February 14, 2014--Ron Pierce, as quoted by Teddy Roosevelt..."Speak softly and carry a big stick." The 57-year-old Pierce has maintained that mantra throughout a Hall of Fame career, which, through the beginning of this week, included more than 9,000 wins and $204 million in purses. However, for all of his success, he's never had anything more than a Yonkers Raceway's visitor's pass. Until recently. After a trial run a couple of weekends ago--which resulted in eight wins--Pierce decided he enjoyed it so much, he'd fire up the EZ-Pass and become a Friday-Saturday regular. With four more victories this past Saturday night, Pierce is winning at better than a 31 percent clip (14-for-44), and started the week already ranked eighth in the driver standings. "We're extremely happy to have Ron driving here Fridays and Saturdays," Raceway president Tim Rooney said. "While others may think he's on the tail end of his career, driving here can do nothing but keep it ascending." "Ron Pierce has jettisoned himself into Yonkers Raceway's deep driving colony," Standardbred Owners Association of New York president Joe Faraldo said. "We wish him well and know that his presence only adds to the high quality of talented drivers sitting behind the best horses currently racing in North America." Pierce's previously-mentioned "visitor's pass" has included a pair of Yonkers Trot wins, two in the Messenger Stakes and another deuce in the final of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. "Physically, I feel better than I have in 15 years," he said. "It's worked out very well so far." The Raceway's live schedule resumes Saturday night, with the five-night-per-week docket continuing-Mother Nature permitting--every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway  

Due to an impasse in the negotiations between the Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association and the Management of Monticello Raceway, the horsemen's consent for interstate simulcasting of live racing from Monticello has expired.   Pursuant to the Federal Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978, the consent of the recognized horsemen's association at the host track is necessary for a racetrack to conduct interstate simulcasting. Accordingly, Federal law dictates that interstate export of the live Monticello signal immediately cease until further notice.   From the law offices of Joseph Faraldo  

Schenectady, NY – Harness Racing’s top guns descended upon the New York State Gaming Commission public hearing to advance concerns over proposed drug levels for racehorses.  U. S. Trotting Association President, Phil Langley, and Standardbred Owners Association of New York President, Joe Faraldo, led a group of distinguished veterinarians and research experts to counter the “one size fits all” approach being forwarded by the Thoroughbred-based Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) proposals. The appearance of the Standardbred leaders at the public hearing, called by the agency formerly known as the NYS Racing and Wagering board, was to hear “testimony about adoption of per se regulatory thresholds for 24 approved equine medications and amending pre-race restricted time periods for various drugs.” One particular therapeutic substance, respiratory aid Clenbuterol, has been at the forefront of a debate over uniform medication rules approved by the RMTC. Although there is widespread Thoroughbred support for the measures, the Standardbred industry has argued that the two breeds have very distinct differences and therefore should be treated differently.  The proposed rule would prohibit the bronchial dilator from being administered within 14 days of racing, effectively eliminating its potential benefit to Standardbreds that generally race every week. Langley noted that, “Our horses are so durable, they do not even look [like Thoroughbreds.]  Many of our horses race 30 to 40 times each year.  In fact, the leading money-winning horse of all time started 198 times.  We are not trying to get the standards lowered.  We just want to conduct [racing] the way we are.” Dr. Kanter, an expert in equine medicine and pharmacology, with over 40 years of experience as the track vet at Buffalo and Batavia.  “This measure could be denying horses the benefit of years of research of these useful therapeutic drugs, while the efficacy of known substitutes is yet unproven.” Dr. Janet Durso of Goshen, NY, reiterated those concerns.  “Clenbuterol is one of the best drugs for treating blood and discharge from a horse’s lungs.  Remedies would be problematic without it!” One of the contributing factors toward this proposal is the concern that some Thoroughbred trainers are abusing Clenbuterol by overdosing in order to achieve a repartitioning effect, or to build muscle mass.  That appears to be a non-issue in Standardbreds as they race too often for long-term dosages to be administered effectively. Dr. Tobin, a renowned expert from the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center, stated, “Clenbuterol did have a repartitioning effect and increased muscle mass, but this did not translate into an increase in performance.  In fact, it decreased performance.” Although the prospect of catastrophic injury of racehorses was discussed, Dr. Tobin noted that “Harness Racing was one of the safest sports in North America.  Only 1 in 15,000 fatal injuries occurred in Standardbreds, where 1 in 2,000 occurred in Thoroughbreds over the same time period.” Several other items were addressed, such as the list of 24 drugs that would provide for the basis of drugs that would have established levels for testing.  All others would be considered “off-limits” for use and result in positive tests if found in race-day blood or urine testing.  In addition, the proposal of special corticosteroid regulations sparked added debate. Of the nine speakers, eight of the experts gave convincing testimony toward the need for separate rules for each breed.  Dr. Dionne Benson, the executive director of the RMTC (Racing Medication and Testing Consortium), was the last speaker and lone dissenter.  She noted that the ad hoc committee for all breeds felt that the thresholds are appropriate, and that the state of Pennsylvania was “on-board” with her groups recommendations. Nonetheless, Joe Faraldo is not convinced that the RMTC proposals are suitable for Harness Racing.  “We heard today that not all of the scientific bases have been covered.  I believe that the [NYS Gaming Board] is cognizant of that fact.  Because this board took the time to listen to all of these points of view, and the science behind them, it is a good indication that Harness Racing will be treated fairly.” by Chris Tully for

YONKERS, NY, Monday, December 23, 2013-Bragging rights, congratulations...and $2,500 belong to Matthew Sanchez, who won Saturday night's final of the free, on-line handicapping contest, sponsored by Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York. Sanchez earned $346 from his mythical $20 win bet on eight races Saturday. He defeated 29 other final-round participants, including Karl Dilcher ($287) and a "dead-heat" between Harry Varteresian and Gary Arceci ($219 each). Sanchez also earned $500 for winning the first preliminary round. Dilcher earned $1,000 for his runner-up effort in the final, with Varteresian and Arceci winning $250 each. The $10,000 contest, a joint venture between the Raceway and the SOA and coordinated through Trackmaster proved quite popular, with more than 1,300 handicappers signing up. About the only snag was provided by Mother Nature, who snowed out the final two rounds of a scheduled five-round event. Thus, the final had 32 qualifiers (top 10 finishers in each round, plus deadlocks), with 29 making selections. by Frank Drucker for Yonkers Raceway  

The Standardbred Owners Association of New York and Yonkers Raceway are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement on the terms of a new three year contract. The new agreement will cover the conduct of racing at Yonkers Raceway for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 racing seasons. The previous expired contract had been extended until December 31, 2013 by mutual agreement.   The 2014 meet at Yonkers will cover 236 racing dates and is scheduled to begin Monday, January 6. A full 2014 racing calendar will be released shortly.   "We are very pleased to have fostered a relationship that would allow us to complete negotiations in such a quick fashion," said Yonkers Raceway Chief Operating Officer Bob Galterio. "I believe each side knew the issues of importance for the other and acted accordingly." The schedule tentatively calls for some matinee programs on Tuesday afternoons in the Fall, as Yonkers looks to develop more international outlets for their high quality racing product.   The SOA Committee and Yonkers management only had to meet two times to iron out the agreement.   "The negotiations were seamless," said SOA of NY President Joe Faraldo. "Horsemen can know there is stability for the next several years with 236 racing dates scheduled each season."   During the talks, the SOA of NY was represented by SOA President Joe Farlado, SOA Trustee Chris Wittstruck and SOA Executive Director Alex Dadoyan.   As part of the agreement, the SOA of NY agreed to remove the $100 payment for horses finishing sixth through eighth. That money will go into the purse account for distribution in the traditional form of purse money for horses finishing first through fifth. It was further agreed that the $10 per start fee will be automatically deducted from the purse account rather than burdening the owners with the accounting each week. That deduction will not be applicable in the NYSS events for which there will be a separate fee that will be the owners' direct responsibility.   The SOA of NY will also receive slightly higher revenue for its new insurance program "We will continue to maintain the non-contributory retirement program for qualified industry participants which is a great benefit to those horsemen that reach retirement age with enough service credit," said SOA of NY Trustees Chairman Peter Venaglia.

On Saturday, December 7, The Standardbred Owners Association of New York (SOA), the horsemen's association representing the over 1,000 owners, trainers and drivers regularly competing at Yonkers Raceway, held its annual membership meeting.   At the meeting, the results of the SOA's 2013 Board of Directors election were certified. In the driver/trainer category, Ray Schnittker and Peter Younger were unopposed in their election to three year terms. In the owner category, SOA President Joseph Faraldo, Robert MacDougall and Chris Wittstruck were all re-elected to three year terms, also in unopposed fashion.   Additionally, the following officers and trustees of the Welfare and Retirement Funds were elected to serve during 2014. They are:   Officers: President: Joseph Faraldo 1st Vice President: Peter Venaglia 2nd Vice President Irv Atherton 3rd Vice President: John Brennan Treasurer: Irv Atherton Secretary: John Brennan Trustees: Joseph Faraldo Peter Venaglia Irv Atherton John Brennan Jordan Stratton Henry Gargiulo (1st Alternate) Chris Wittstruck (2nd Alternate)   At the meeting, the Board discussed a variety of statutory and administrative goals for the upcoming year. Also discussed were the salient points of the new three (3) year horsemen's agreement which was recently negotiated with Yonkers management. That agreement calls for 236 race dates for each of the three years. Subject to approval by the New York State Gaming Commission, the 2014 racing season with commence on Monday evening, January 6.   by Alex Dadoyan for SOA/NY

"NYS Assembly Committee on Racing Delves Into Economic Impacts of harness Racing"   Commentary delivered by Joe Faraldo, Alex Dadoyan of the SOA of NY and Betty Holt of Harness Horse Breeders.   Testimony Submitted by the Standardbred Owners Association of New York to the NYS Assembly Committee on Racing & Wagering December 2013   Thank you Chairman Pretlow for the opportunity to present testimony on behalf of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, the Empire State Harness Horsemen’s Alliance and harness horsemen from across New York regarding the incredibly positive economic impacts generated by our harness racing and agricultural industries across the state.   I thought I’d begin by reading a brief excerpt from a fact sheet submitted to state legislators in the spring of 2003 by harness horsemen detailing what we anticipated would be the positive future impacts of a New York video lottery terminal (VLT) initiative that was just about to come on-line.   We predicted:   “…if revenues from the VLTs are distributed equitably to horsemen, purses and breeders funds, then this new program will not only generate a major new revenue stream for education, but also will trigger a renaissance for the entire horse racing industry in the state. These funds will bring more high-quality horses to New York tracks and make breeding a more lucrative industry in the state. As more breeders come to New York and owners and trainers expand the number of horses in their stables, numerous related industries will benefit indirectly. Clearly, one of the major benefactors of the addition of VLT’s at racetracks will be the agriculture industry.”   Fast forward a decade later and virtually every one of those harness racing predictions – higher purses, expanded agriculture, thriving breeding farms, and tens of thousands of racing related jobs across New York State – has come true.   As the Assembly noted in its own notice for this hearing, a 2011 economic impact study commissioned by New York’s racing and agriculture stakeholders concluded that our industry generated an overall $4.2 billion economic impact statewide and was responsible for 33,000 jobs.   So, not only have VLTs generated hundreds of millions of dollars in critical funding for education across the state, but New York’s harness industry has returned to its rightful place as a national leader and the promise of a New York racing renaissance has become a reality.   WHY THIS HISTORY IS IMPORTANT AND THE REASON HORSEMEN ARE NOW SERIOUSLY CONCERNED FOR THE FUTURE   As New York State prepares to undergo major changes to our gaming environment in the wake of the recently-approved casino gaming amendment, it is critically important to fully understand the significant economic gains that have taken place in the NY harness industry as a direct result of the existing VLT initiative and, more significantly, to recognize the potential impacts that the amendment’s enacting language could have on racing and agriculture.   For example, as you are aware, this enacting language includes a provision that mandates certain racing industry payments (derived from casino gaming) be maintained at 2013 levels (with a small cost of living adjustment based on the federal consumer price index).   And while this provision – which specifically relates to existing racinos that may receive a full casino gaming license and morph into a casino – has been characterized as a “floor” (ensuring that payments for purse support and breeding do not fall below 2013 levels), the fact is that the language, as written, also acts as an absolute “ceiling,” capping these payments at a virtually static 2013 level and not allowing for any future growth.   While we are obviously grateful for the creation of a hold harmless provision to ensure that agriculture and racing jobs are not immediately negatively impacted, our concern is that this hard cap on payments to agriculture and racing from casinos will essentially serve as a hard cap on any future, additional growth in racing and agriculture.   The message that this will send to potential investors – who, as you will see from my testimony below, have absolutely flocked to our state in record numbers in recent years – is that New York may be doing well now, but is closed for future business and has no horse breeding or racing investment opportunities available to them moving forward.   Other competing racing states have recognized that racing and breeding should grow right along with casino gaming and the very real fear now resonating throughout farms, training facilities and racetracks across New York is that we’ll not only fall behind in future growth, but that New York will eventually start to lose some of the hard-fought gains we’ve already achieved.   And to see exactly what is at risk, one need only look at recent statistics and real life case studies from the industry.   RACING AND AGRICULTURE-RELATED ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF VLTs IN NEW YORK STATE   The thoughtful, dual purpose VLT initiative implemented by New York State – charged with funding education and supporting a horse racing industry that is a major job-generator across virtually every region of the state – has increased purses and attracted investment into our breeding and agriculture sectors like never before.   New farms and training facilities are opening in regions across the state and our high-quality New York Standardbred horses are commanding the highest prices by far at auction.   While my full submitted testimony has a wide range of statistics for your review, let me just summarize by pointing out that virtually every indicator – the number of mares in New York, stud fees, sales prices, etc. – has increased exponentially since 2001.   REAL LIFE CASE STUDIES DEMONSTRATE MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR ECONOMIC IMPACTS   The economic multiplier effects of this purse money on various sectors of the New York’s economy are really quite amazing. Again, my full written testimony includes a number of very real, very concrete, very significant case studies that demonstrate how VLT-generated purse money is filtering throughout our local economies and is attracting even more investment across New York State.   Needless to say, these cases – from the $9 million in capital investments at Blue Chip Farms to Mark Ford’s new $8 million dollar training center in Middletown – are proof positive that purse money is being directly invested back into the New York State economy. Clearly, this isn’t just economic theory, conjecture or even predictions from a decade ago.   These are proven, on-the-ground economic gains in communities throughout New York State that are taking place thanks to our harness racing industry.   HOW CAN WE ENSURE FUTURE JOB CREATION AND GROWTH?   In light of all of these clear and positive economic gains, it should come as no surprise that horsemen, breeders, farmers and tens of thousands of others who are dependent on racing for their livelihoods are deeply concerned about how the coming expansion of casino gaming in New York State will impact these important economic benefits.   As noted earlier, other competing racing states have recognized that racing and breeding should grow right along with casino gaming, so one must ask why horsemen or breeders would invest additional resources – or even keep their existing horses already here in New York – when they can anticipate greater additional growth in nearby states?   With 33,000 New York State equine jobs at stake, it obviously makes complete sense to have a “hold harmless” provision to ensure that agriculture and breeding don’t get hurt by the expansion of full casino gaming.   However, what is less clear is the economic or policy rationale for capping racing industry support payments at 2013 levels for racinos that become full casinos and not allowing the opportunity for any future growth or investment in a critically important, proven, job-creating New York industry.   Recent record sales numbers by New York-bred horses at national sales demonstrate that breeding gains are continuing apace and there is no doubt that significant opportunities for additional growth in our agricultural sector exist across the state.   Within this clear and compelling economic context, the SOA of New York and harness horsemen from across the state are asking the New York State Legislature to reevaluate and reconsider the specific provision included in the casino enacting legislation that mandates a cap on racing industry support levels at the 2013 level.    While eliminating this cap would obviously require the creation of a new formula for determining reasonable and appropriate levels of industry support payments from full casino gaming (including both slots and table games), we are committed to working collaboratively with both legislators and gaming industry stakeholders to develop a workable solution.   Our experience with the existing VLT initiative has shown that it is possible to create win-win-win scenarios, and we look forward to working with you and your colleagues to continue to support and grow equine industry jobs in the great state of New York. Thank you.   CONTACTS:   Joe Faraldo, Standardbred Owners Association of NY 718-544- 6800   Joni Yoswein, Yoswein New York (representing the SOA of NY) 212-233-5700

YONKERS, NY, December 3, 2013-It was James Lang earning recognition in Tuesday night's third round of the free, on-line handicapping contest, sponsored by Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York. Lang earned $702 from his mythical $20 win bet on eight races. He defeated 841 other participants, including Roxanne Dsalles ($620), Daniel Escoto ($619), Joseph Falsetta ($615) and Fred Valerio ($590). The contest continues the next two Tuesdays (Dec. 10 and 17). The final round is set for Sat., Dec. 21, Yonkers' final racing program of the season. It is coordinated through Trackmaster (, and shall be run through that site, including free past performances pages for the designated contest dates. For each of the prelim rounds, it's $500 for first place, $250 for second place, $200 for third, $150 for fourth and $100 for fifth. The first ten finishers in each round qualify for the final, but each handicapper may only qualify once. As for the final, $2,500 to the winner, $1,000 for the runner-up and $500 for third place. The $10,000 total prize pool is a partnership between Yonkers Raceway and the SOA of New York. Nearly 1,300 handicappers have signed up through the first three rounds. by Frank Drucker for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, November 27, 2013-It was John Gallo taking home the big prize in Tuesday night's second round of the free, on-line handicapping contest, sponsored by Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York. Gallo earned $615 from his mythical $20 win bet on eight races. He defeated 905 other participants, including Philip Brunori ($600), James Dam ($568), Brenda Hogan ($558) and Dan DeSilva ($529). The contest continues the next three Tuesdays (Dec. 3, 10 and 17). The final round is set for Sat., Dec. 21, Yonkers' final racing program of the season. It is coordinated through Trackmaster (, and shall be run through that site, including free past performances pages for the designated contest dates. For each of the prelim rounds, it's $500 for first place, $250 for second place, $200 for third, $150 for fourth and $100 for fifth. The first ten finishers in each round qualify for the final (a three-way deadlock for 10th this week, so there were 12 qualifiers), but each handicapper may only qualify once. As for the final, $2,500 to the winner, $1,000 for the runner-up and $500 for third place. The $10,000 total prize pool is a partnership between Yonkers Raceway and the SOA of New York. More than 1,200 handicappers have signed up thus far.   by Frank Drucker for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, November 21, 2013-First-round bragging rights went to Matthew Sanchez, who won the free, on-line handicapping contest, sponsored by Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York. Sanchez earned $847 from his mythical $20 win bet on eight races Tuesday night. He defeated 731 other opening-round participants, including Gerald Steffanelli ($843), Tony Beltrame ($842), Wendy Mandar ($840) and Mitch Lampert ($760). The contest continues the next four Tuesdays (Nov. 26, Dec. 3, 10 and 17). The final round is set for Sat., Dec. 21, Yonkers' final racing program of the season. It is coordinated through Trackmaster (, and shall be run through that site, including free past performances pages for the designated contest dates. For each of the prelim rounds, it's $500 for first place (way to go, Matthew), $250 for second place, $200 for third, $150 for fourth and $100 for fifth. The first ten finishers in each round qualify for the final, but each handicapper may only qualify once. As for the final, $2,500 to the winner, $1,000 for the runner-up and $500 for third place. The $10,000 total prize pool is a partnership between Yonkers Raceway and the SOA of New York.   by Frank Drucker for Yonkers Raceway  

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, November 14, 2013--Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York have announced a free, $10,000 on-line handicapping contest, beginning this Tuesday, Nov. 19. The contest is to be coordinated through Trackmaster (, and shall be run through that site, including free past performances pages for the designated contest dates. Registration is now open. Here are the particulars...the preliminary dates are all Tuesdays...Nov. 19 and 26, along with Dec. 3, 10 and 17. The final round is set for Sat., Dec. 21, Yonkers' final racing program of the season. Contestants are required to make a mythical $20 win bet on eight of Yonkers races of their choice on a given program, with the top 10 "bankrolls" after each round qualifying for the final. Contestants (who have to be at least 18 years of age, as per state law) may enter each week, but may only qualify once for the final. Ah, the prizes. For each of the prelim rounds, it's $500 for first place, $250 for second place, $200 for third, $150 for fourth and $100 for fifth. As for the final, $2,500 to the winner, $1,000 for the runner-up and $500 for third place. The $10,000 prize pool is a partnership between the Raceway and the SOA of New York. "We're extremely happy to offer this contest," general manager Bob Galterio said. "It's a tremendous incentive for the regular Yonkers player, as well as for those who may not have looked at our product in a while. You get to watch and 'wager' on the best harness product available, and if you're good enough, make some money for the holiday season." "We welcome the chance to partner with Yonkers any time, and we're sure this contest is going to prove very popular," SOA of New York president Joe Faraldo said. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting now available daily. By Frank Drucker for Yonkers Raceway  

On October 22, 2013, the New York State Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, agreed to hear the  harness horsemen's appeal challenging the state's out-of-competition testing regulations. The court determined that the appeal was as a matter of right.   In August 2011, a Supreme Court Justice in Schenectady, New York determined in Ford et al. v. The New York State Racing and Wagering Board that the regulations were unconstitutional, devoid of due process, were arbitrary and capricious and “so lacking in reason as to require nullification in their entirety.”  In July 2013, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, sitting in Albany, reversed parts of the Schenectady judge's decision. The Court of Appeals will now issue the final ruling as to the legality and enforceability of the rules as they relate to Standardbred racing.   Joseph Faraldo, President of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, one of the petitioners in the lawsuit, commented, "Like the United States Supreme Court, New York's Court of Appeals hears only a very small fraction of the cases presented to it for appeal each year. We are heartened that the court will hear our arguments against the rules in 2014. From the time this process started several years ago, we have always maintained two things. One is that while we need rational and reasonable out-of-competition rules that catch and punish cheaters, we also need to ensure that the innocent are not ensnared in an indiscriminate dragnet. The other is that the rules promulgated over our strenuous and repeated objections are neither rational nor reasonable; are unconstitutional and, in some instances, would actually assist the cheaters to escape scrutiny and justice. We are confident that after our arguments are heard, the high court will reinstate the reasoned decision of the Schenectady Supreme Court."   In addition to the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, the petitioners are USTA director Mark Ford, SOA director and USTA district chairman John Brennan, veteran horseman Richard Banca, Sr. and retired SOA executive director George Casale.   The Petitioners have been represented throughout the proceedings by Andrew J. Turro, Esq. of the law firm Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klien, P.C.   Submitted by the SOA of New York  

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, October 17, 2013 - Yonkers Raceway is prepping for its fifth annual Fall Harvest Festival, a free, family-fun event, set for Saturday night. The Harvest Festival is slated from 5-9 PM on the track apron at the historic half-mile oval, and showcases the thriving relationship between horse racing and agriculture all across New York State. The Fall Harvest Festival includes pony rides, face painting, pumpkin patch and musical entertainment, along with New York wine and beer product sampling. Of course, a full card of parimutuel races is also part of the evening (first post at the usual 7:10 PM). A favorite among the Fall Harvest Festival highlights is the Fifth Annual Legislators' Challenge, in which elected officials from across the state compete in four non-wagering harness races (with occasional help from professional harness drivers). Post time for the first of three Legislators non-bettors is 5:30 PM. The "electeds" have been divided into three groups...the rookies, the veterans and the previous winners. Scheduled participants for the Legislators' Pace include, from the New York State Assembly Andrew Raia (12 AD - Northport); Keith Wright (70 AD - Harlem); Michael Benedetto (82 AD - Bronx); J. Gary Pretlow (89 AD - Mount Vernon); Shelley Mayer (90 AD - Yonkers); Michaelle C. Solages (22 AD - Valley Stream); Joseph Saladino (9 AD - Massapequa Park); Rafael Espinal Jr. (54 AD - Brooklyn); Andrew Garbarino (7 AD - Bayport); and Frank Skartados (104 AD - Newburgh). Rounding out the competitors is State Senators Joseph Griffo (47 SD - Utica). "The Legislators' Pace has become a much-anticipated annual event among racing fans, residents statewide, and of course, our incredibly competitive state legislators," Tim Rooney, Jr., general counsel at Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, said. "But for us, this is just a fun-filled way to remind the elected officials and residents who support us, that not only have we contributed over $1.8 billion to the state's schools, we've also helped revitalized the horse racing and agricultural industries across the state." "I am always excited to compete in the Legislative Challenge. It is a fun night, not just for those who are participating but for the entire family. Once again, Empire City has outdone themselves in providing a fun-filled evening for all," Assembly Member Benedetto said. "I would like to thank both the Standardbred Owners Association of New York and Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway for hosting this event and the Fall Festival," Assembly Member Garbarino said. "These two organizations have helped make New York a leader in the standardbred breeding and racing industries. For many years, these two industries have provided much-needed jobs and revenue for the New York State economy." "I am looking forward to once again participating in this year's fall harvest festival. It is a wonderful community event, and I appreciate Empire City Casino providing it to the Yonkers community," Assembly Member Mayer said. "I've been attending this event every year since its inception, and every year I'm blown away at how much fun it is," Assembly Member Raia said. "Events like these are not just great fun for the whole family, but also critical to illustrating the importance of New York agriculture and business." "The Fall Harvest Festival is one of the most exciting nights at Yonkers Raceway," Assembly Member Saladino said. "After winning last year's race, I am thrilled to come back and defend my title and create another very exciting night. The legislative challenge is a not-to-be-missed event. I hope everyone comes out to Yonkers Raceway for a night of fun at the races." "It is an honor to race at the Yonkers Raceway and participate in the fifth annual Fall Harvest Festival. Harness racing with my fellow New York State legislators highlights an industry that not only benefits the great state of New York, but also the local community," Assembly Member Solages said. "This is the most premier harness racing track in the country. I am excited at the opportunity to celebrate New York State's advancements in the agriculture and equine industries at the harness racing capital." "The fall harvest is a great opportunity for legislators to highlight one of the jewels of New York, Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, and it gives us a great opportunity to mix business and pleasure," Assembly Member Wright said. "As a legislator from Harlem, I don't get a chance to drive too many horses. I look forward to seeing everyone as I come around the clubhouse turn." Another highlight of the Fall Harvest Festival is a Racing Under Saddle exhibition event, with nine talented women competing in a mile-and-and-a-sixteenth event between the first and second races on the wagering card. The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available around the NYRA schedule. by Frank Drucker for Yonkers Raceway  

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