Breeding and training thoroughbreds and harness horses has been a tradition in our region for decades.
But shifting ethical practices, purses based more on slot-machine returns than actual horse races, and alleged corruption have crippled the sport.
The head of the New York Racing Association is now on leave, under investigation for allegedly skimming winnings owed to bettors — a scandal that is only the latest setback for debt-wracked NYRA. This from the Albany Times Union.
New York Racing Association President Charles Hayward…already on thin ice with state authorities for a series of missteps in dealing with government leaders, now finds himself in serious trouble as a result of the state Racing and Wagering Board inquiry that concluded he misled the public when he asserted that NYRA was surprised to learn it had overcharged bettors by about $8.6 million from mid-September 2010 through the third week of December 2011.
Since a casino opened at Aqueduct late last year, offering vastly richer prizes, 30 horses have died racing there, a 100 percent increase in the fatality rate over the same period the previous year. Like Wes Vegas and Coronado Heights, many had been injected repeatedly with pain medication in the weeks before their breakdowns, according to a review of veterinary records by The New York Times.