I asked, was denied, but look forward to meet!
The NYRA. They oversee three thoroughbred race tracks in New York—Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga. They offer the finest racing in the world and their 40-day meet at Saratoga remains a gem; a cross between aristocrats and commoners, a true potpourri of American society.
I’m not sure how much money the NYRA makes each and every year. We know that they probably lose money on the horse side, but because they receive monies from casino revenue at Aqueduct, and because they draw over 900,000 each year to Saratoga, they probably make a few bucks when all is said and done.
They have tried to run themselves, but that has been a mixed bag. While on their own, they overpaid their executives and needed help from the state. The state then took them over, helped them clean up and now the NYRA is private again.
When they go private, problems seem to develop. As a private organization, they don’t have to tell the public anything. They can pay their executives anything they want and they could—like they did before—skim handle and do other shady things that got them in trouble before.
Now, I’m not accusing the NYRA of anything. They now have to deal with everything—pay for backstretch workers, health insurance and much more. They can’t come back to the state for a bailout when premiums go up. Well, they could, but the state might take over—again.
Of course, there is an upside to being private. We know that state run organizations are not run as well as private ones. Too much overhead, too much politics, too many favors all play a part in bogging things down. People that work for states are hard workers, but many of them have job security, nice pensions and that doesn’t create a sense of urgency. A private NYRA can do things faster and one would think easier by not having to wait for board meetings, state approval and all the other red tape.
Based on this history, you would think the NYRA would be more accommodating. Horse racing is not a popular sport among the American masses. We love a superhorse, love a Triple Crown winner and love the Kentucky Derby. In 2015, American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, breaking a 37-year drought in the process. The TV ratings were superb. Three years later, Justify won the Triple Crown. The TV ratings were good, but were down significantly from 2015. That just shows how event-oriented Americans have become. Instead of rushing to the TV, many said, “Ehh, I just saw that three years ago, I don’t need to watch this year.”
I’m a freelance writer; I cover horse racing when I can. I don’t spend 40 hours a week on it, but I spend plenty of time reading, researching and writing about the sport. I’m a fan of the sport, know a lot about it and feel I can bring good insights to it. I’m not a handicapper and writing previews and recaps are things I find quite boring. How many of you care about what the fractions are in a horse race?
For the second time in three years, I applied for a media credential for the upcoming Saratoga meet and for the second time, I was denied. I thought my chances were greater this year because I freelance for a national website that publishes stories, insights and provides betting opportunties for those who subscribe.
I also thought my chances were greater because many who received creds in the past are no longer working in the business. The New York Post, New York Daily News no longer sends reporters to cover the Spa meeting. In this time of declining newspaper revenues, many publications decided to make cuts and covering the Saratoga meet was probably an easy one to slash.
Am I bitter over this? Absolutely not! The NYRA can issue media creds to anybody they want to. In my case, I’d be lucky to cover 10 of the 40 days. I’m not a member of the Turf Writers Association and I have never worked for a major newspaper, racing publication or magazine and would never have the audacity to call myself a professional sports writer. I’m not even sure I’m that good a writer; I think I’m okay, I believe I can find angles that people enjoy reading, but what do I really know?
My thinking is that credential requests—because of the plights of the New York papers—would be down and that the NYRA would want to find bloggers, freelancers and others that love the sport and want to cover it. I might be wrong. Maybe they have an enormous amount of these people already and they need somebody like me like they need mold in their bathroom.
Again, there is no bitterness here. I wasn’t shocked they denied me, just a bit surprised. Sometimes, less is more, but in horse racing, I’m thinking more is more.
All that said I’ll be there when I can to watch and enjoy the races. I plan on interviewing people when I’m there and doing some off the wall features. I’ll do the best I can. I’m just a freelancer; I certainly can’t make a living off my writing, in fact, I might sign up to an Uber driver because I can probably make much more driving than writing.
But, writing is a passion and it’s too bad the NYRA can’t see that in an application.