Assembly candidates in Saratoga district in accord on NYRA issues
There's nothing partisan about horse racing in Saratoga Springs, judging by the views of the New York Racing Association voiced by Assembly candidates vying to represent the city.
Assemblyman Tony Jordan, R-Jackson, and Democratic challenger Carrie Woerner each stress that with the ongoing tumult and uncertainty surrounding the scandal-plagued corporation's takeover by the state, it is of the utmost importance that things shouldn't change much for the historic Saratoga Race Course.
"What happens with the new board of NYRA," Woerner said, "their first rule should be do no harm."
This was a sentiment echoed by Jordan.
The two candidates are vying to represent the 113th Assembly District.
To avoid messing with the winning local formula, both candidates are calling for local representation on the new board.
The candidates also agree that revenue generated by video lottery terminals should continue to be used to subsidize the state's breeders and horsemen and also to increase purses at NYRA's tracks in Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga Springs. They both noted the increased handle in 2012, which is attributable to higher purses, and the large benefit of a strong horse industry in the region, which to some degree is propped up by state subsidies.
Regarding the relationship of handle to purses, Woerner added that she would like to see a greater return on the state's investment.
On the possibility of each track having new operators under the NYRA Board or racing potentially closing at Aqueduct, Jordan said it is important to remember that racing at Saratoga doesn't exist in a vacuum. He stressed the interconnectedness of the three tracks, highlighting the needs of trainers who might leave in the winter and not come back in the summer if Aqueduct's winter meet were to be canceled.
Woerner said it was too soon to consider these long-term questions and wants to first focus on the makeup of the new NYRA board, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo, state legislators and NYRA have yet to appoint.
Reach Gazette reporter David Lombardo by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.