April, 2016


Albany Update: The New York State Budget was released in the early hours of Apr. 1, and it contained much good news, with one unwelcome surprise, for the New York Thoroughbred industry. The issues that were the focus of NYTHA’s lobbying efforts this year were addressed in favor of the industry; provisions that would have increased the payments made from VLT purse enhancements to from 1.0% to 1.6% and that would have funneled 25% of NYTHA’s funding for its benevolence initiatives to the New York State Gaming Commission were struck from the budget. Added to the budget was language that will allow the one-time use of a small portion of the purse cushion to offset an increase in the base premium for the Jockey Injury Compensation Fund’s Workers’ Compensation policy.

In the eleventh hour of budget negotiations, Nassau County OTB struck a deal to turn over the operation of its 1,000 proposed VLT machines to Resorts World, machines that will be installed at the Aqueduct Racetrack casino. The Thoroughbred industry, however, will receive no payments from these machines unless VLT revenue drops below 2013 levels. A delegation from NYTHA and the New York Thoroughbred Breeders met with members of the legislature to express concerns over this agreement.

“The situation with Nassau County OTB illustrates perfectly why the partnership with horse racing is essential to New York’s gaming industry, and why racing should share in the revenue generated by Nassau County OTB’s VLT machines,” NYTHA President Rick Violette Jr. said. “Nassau County OTB couldn’t find a home for those machines until they piggybacked on the casino at Aqueduct Racetrack. They wouldn’t be making dollar one without racing, yet somehow we get zero? We are not happy about it, and we will be in Albany asking for a seat at the table, so that we will be included in negotiations going forward.”

“We Love The Backstretch Wednesday” NYTHA has unveiled a new weekly feature, “We Love The Backstretch Wednesday,” which puts the spotlight on the invaluable men and women who care for our horses. Talented equine photographer Susie Raisher roams the New York barn area each week, getting behind-the-scenes shots of the backstretch workers in action. Click the links to check out the first three “We Love The Backstretch Wednesday” photo albums, and follow NYTHA on Facebook and Twitter for upcoming pictorials.
 “WLTBW” Week 1                 “WLTBW” Week 2                “WLTBW” Week 3

Retired Racehorse Research Project:  The New York State Gaming Commission has undertaken a research project to follow up on a group of New York-bred horses that have concluded their racing careers. The Gaming Commission put together a list of every New York-bred that raced between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2012, and has not raced since, and is reaching out to members of the Thoroughbred racing community in an effort to track each horse on the list.  The goal is to provide the industry with much-needed information on retired racehorses.
The Gaming Commission is asking NYTHA members for their assistance in this project. Please take a moment to scan the list. If you have an update on a horse, email Gaming Commission Director of Communications Lee Park at Lee.Park@gaming.ny.gov with the name of the horse and its current status. Thanks for your help!

Tax Return Program Has BEST Year Yet: The Backstretch Employee Service Team’s Executive Director Paul Ruchames reports that the 2016 tax season was a good one for backstretch workers. “This was the fourth year that BEST has worked in collaboration with the Bethpage Federal Credit Union to provide backstretch workers with free tax preparation service,” Ruchames said. “The Credit Union’s tax preparer, who is part of the VITA program of the IRS, helped 30 workers to receive a combined total of over $60,000 in tax refunds this year. Over the last four years, we have been able to help a couple hundred workers receive about a quarter-million dollars in refunds.”

The BEST Saratoga health clinic will add a dispensary this spring, which will enable workers to get free acute care medications at the time of their treatment visit. “BEST thanks NYTHA and a group of anonymous trainers for their invaluable support in this project,” Ruchames said.

BCCA: What’s the latest from the Belmont Child Care Association? The Hance Family Foundation established a Beautiful Me program at BCCA’s Anna House to address issues of self-esteem in young school-age girls. The girls participated in a series of classes that helped them understand to how to best seek support for their concerns.

Looking ahead to the Saratoga meet, BCCA has teamed up with the National Museum of Dance of Saratoga Springs, which will offer free weekly dance classes at the museum, providing the children of NYRA’s backstretch workers the opportunity to enjoy the art of dance. In addition, the children and their families will receive tickets to attend a performance of the New York City Ballet at SPAC in late July.

BCCA also partners with the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame on the Discovery Paddock at Saratoga Race Course, which offers an interactive experience to introduce young children to the beauty of the Thoroughbred.
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