Given all the hype, you might have thought that “I’ll Have Another” could have saved the horse racing industry.
But the Triple Crown was not to be, as the scrappy colt was scratched with a swollen tendon. So despite all the usual color and excitement, this Belmont Stakes didn’t make history, much less rescue an industry in turmoil.
Consider the dismal facts.
Consider that a state takeover of the board of the New York Racing Association still awaits legislative action in Albany, as investigations into NYRA continue.
Also consider that off track betting agencies that support racing are also struggling to stay in business. Suffolk’s bankrupt OTB hasn’t paid its light bill. New York City’s OTB closed two years ago.
And while credit is due to Governor Cuomo for orchestrating a state takeover of NYRA, recognize that the association that operates tracks at Saratoga, Aqueduct and Belmont remains in limbo.
NYRA also faces a probe of a score of horse deaths at Aqueduct linked to drugs. And its finances are in tatters, as it operates on state loans and racino subsidies, after losing millions due from failing OTBs.
So as Cuomo pushes ahead with his plan to amend the state constitution to permit casino gambling, legislators should insist that fixing the state’s horse racing industry should be job one.
How can political leaders make a credible case for expanding gaming enterprises, when the state can’t stop subsidizing a horse racing industry that not only lacks stability and integrity, but still operates in deficit after being propped up with public loans?
As we said, the stakes are huge.