Thursday, May 8, 2008

Synthetics in NY?

There's a lot of news out this morning and I haven't time to address more than one issue and even that only briefly. I'll try to add to my comments later and save the other topics for another day. Without any more ado...

This morning I learned that NYRA is considering replacing all the racing surfaces with synthetics. What! We are all aware of the overflow of bad press that has resulted from Eight Bells' breakdown, but this seems like a knee-jerk reaction to press, not a well thought out or researched decision. To release news of this magnitude is just a bad idea. In the mind of the public, I believe, stating they are considering this change is tantamount to saying it will be done. The fact that they said this makes me believe it is inevitable as well. Now if they don't go ahead and install these surfaces the first time a horse breaks down they will be labeled killers; and we all know breakdowns are going to occur. The same outcome will manifest itself if they change the surface at one venue but not the others. It would have been much more prudent to state that they would install a synthetic surface over the Belmont training track and to hold off issuing that news until they have actually decided to do so and how they will pay for it. Never promise a child ice cream and give them an empty cone. Also such a move seems a reasonable one and would allow some observations as to how a surface would fare in the North East during a year. What's wrong with that! Does anyone know how these surfaces respond to the weather variations we have here in NY? Again it seems to be putting the cart in front of the horse. I know I seem to be overreacting to this news but with the climate of public opinion and the press at the moment I think it was unwise to overstate anything. I was also unaware that the tracks at Belmont, either the main or training track, were considered poor training / racing surfaces. I was under the impression that quite the opposite is true.The same for Saratoga, especially the training track, as deep as it is I can't imagine the surface is unsafe. The main track at Aqueduct, we all know has problems, but with a fifty million dollar price tag to do all the tracks (and if that's their estimate, we all know it will cost more -reason not to do them all?) which track do you think is odd man out? Does anyone think they will install a synthetic at Belmont and then run at Aqueduct in the winter?Those nasty rumors of winter racing at Belmont are starting to haunt me. Adios Aqueduct?

It seems to me California acted hastily in their decision to change all their racing surfaces to synthetics. Let's learn a little from the toe they stubbed. Along with the travesty at Santa Anita this spring Del Mar, the premier meet of the west coast, got a bit of a black eye last year as a result of the surface. Their loss was Saratoga's gain.

It may be that these surfaces are the way of the future, in that case they will be here soon enough. However, let's march to the future having done our homework and having learned from any mistakes other's have made along the way. Public opinion, no matter how overwhelming, isn't always correct. Let's not bow to it just because of its' weight. Let's make information and the consideration of all possibilities the basis of a decision. Let's get this right!

Lot's more thoughts about this...

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