David O'Rourke

Saratoga's Racing and Gaming Conference Set to Return

After a two-year absence, the Racing and Gaming Conference is back. The two-day conference will kick off Aug. 16 and will be held in the 1863 Club on the grounds of Saratoga Race Course. With the goal of examining industry trends and challenges facing the sport, the conference was known for bringing together notable industry leaders from across a wide spectrum, including racing officials, regulators and politicians. This year, more than 40 gaming and racing industry professionals will participate in 14 sessions as speakers and panelists throughout the two days....

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Saratoga to Open at 100% Capacity

Edited press release After racing with no fans in 2020, Saratoga will open with 100% capacity in 2021, the New York Racing Association announced today. With 70% of adult New Yorkers now vaccinated against COVID-19, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday the immediate removal of COVID-19 protocols and restrictions for nearly all activities and industries, including outdoor sports and entertainment venues. Accordingly, NYRA will open all sections at Saratoga at 100%. The lifting of all COVID-19 protocols, including the requirement for fans to provide vaccination status, applies to all hospitality...

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Aftercare Bill Passes in New York

Shortly after midnight Wednesday, the New York State Assembly passed an aftercare bill which prohibits the slaughter of racehorses and racehorse breeding stock, requires that racehorses be microchipped, and provides tax incentives for Thoroughbred aftercare donations on tax returns. The bill will now be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to sign it. The purpose of the legislation is to ensure the prohibition of the inhumane slaughter of retired racehorses and breeding stock. The legislation also increases access to funding for appropriate care of retired racehorses by ensuring...

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NYRA Launches Elizabeth Bracken Memorial Scholarship

The New York Racing Association launched the Elizabeth Bracken Memorial Scholarship to support and encourage students enrolled in the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program (RTIP) to secure careers in the Thoroughbred industry. The $10,000 scholarship, to be awarded annually, will be open to juniors and seniors who have completed one full semester in the RTIP and have expressed the desire to work in the Thoroughbred racing industry. The scholarship honors the memory of Elizabeth Bracken, an RTIP graduate who spent 16 years at NYRA before returning to RTIP...

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NYRA and TVG to Donate $410,000 to Support COVID-19 Relief

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) and TVG have announced a series of COVID-19 relief donations for a broad spectrum of non-profit organizations working to support the Thoroughbred racing community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The $410,000 in charitable contributions will be distributed to seven non-profit organizations including the New York Chapter of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America (NYRTCA), the Backstretch Employee Service Team (B.E.S.T), the Belmont Child Care Association (BCCA), the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium (RMTC), the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program (RTIP), the Permanently...

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In an Unusual Year, Some Things Stay the Same at Saratoga

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Even without spectators on the grounds, the 152nd summer of racing in Saratoga produced a total betting handle of $702.5 million that was remarkably close to last year's record figure of $705.3 million. The daily average handle for the 40-day meet in 2020 was $17.6 million and the daily average handle for the weather-shortened 39-day meet in 2019 was $18.1 million. The season concluded Monday as quietly as it began July 16, with a program conducted without fans, in compliance with New York State's COVID-19 protocols...

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NYRA, NYTHA to Match Projected TAA Contributions

The New York Racing Association and the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association have announced they will match the projected per start owners' aftercare contribution to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance through the end of the now cancelled Aqueduct Racetrack spring meet. New York's owners donate $10 per start to the TAA, and NYRA matches that donation at the conclusion of each meet. Based on a projection of 1,200 starters through the end of April at Aqueduct, NYRA and NYTHA will contribute $24,000 to the aftercare program. "It is important that we...

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NYRA Suspends Racing Through Apr. 5; Wood Postponed

The New York Racing Association has officially suspended live racing at Aqueduct Racetrack through at least Apr. 5 due to the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic in New York. As a result, the GII Wood Memorial S., previously slated for Apr. 4 at Aqueduct, has been postponed to a date yet to be determined. A decision regarding the other Apr. 4 stakes, including the GI Carter H., will also be made at a later date. "While this decision is necessary, NYRA is working hard to determine when we can...

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Levy Named Food & Bev Provider for Belmont/Saratoga

Levy has been selected as the food-and-beverage provider at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course by The New York Racing Association Inc. Levy will begin servicing Belmont with the opening of the spring meet Apr. 24, as part of a multi-year agreement. Following the conclusion of the spring meet July 12, live racing shifts to Saratoga Race Course July 16, and Levy will manage all concessions and hospitality areas, including the 1863 Club, The Stretch, Turf Terrace, Club Terrace, The Porch and Easy Goer. Levy will manage a hospitality team...

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Imbriale Replacing Collmus at NYRA

John Imbriale, who has been with the New York Racing Association for better than 40 years, has been appointed the full-time racecaller and track announcer, taking over the position held by Larry Collmus since 2014. Imbriale joins a long list of legendary racecallers in New York, including Tom Durkin, Marshall Cassidy, Chic Anderson, Dave Johnson and Fred Capossela. "John Imbriale is a central part of the fabric of thoroughbred racing in New York," said NYRA CEO & President Dave O'Rourke. "Johnny I's high level of professionalism and flawless delivery are...

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Horse Racing Integrity Act Moving Through the House

The Consumer Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a major hearing today on the Horseracing Integrity Act (HIA) that brought together horse racing industry heavy weights and representatives from two major animal welfare groups to advocate for passage. Congressman Paul D. Tonko (D-NY) spoke at a hearing Tuesday in support of H.R. 1754: the Horseracing Integrity Act, legislation that would establish a non-governmental anti-doping authority responsible for implementing a national, uniform medication program throughout the sport. Tonko introduced the bill last year with fellow Congressional Horse Caucus...

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