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New York State Gaming Commission to explore reforming steward practices
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 - by Lee Park, director of communications, New York State Gaming Commission

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Schenectady, NY --- The New York State Gaming Commission announced today that it will undertake an initiative to increase transparency and reform Steward practices to further underscore the integrity of New York’s world-class horse racing.

At its March 12 meeting, Commissioner John A. Crotty noted that there had been considerable controversy surrounding the disqualification of a winning horse at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 22 in the last leg of the Rainbow Six wager.

In that race, the result of the disqualification was that Gulfstream did not pay out $1.6 million to the lone bettor who held a ticket on the first place finisher. Instead, Gulfstream ended up with a huge carryover which encouraged considerably more wagering on the Rainbow Six. The disqualification led to rampant allegations of collusion which brought into question the integrity of the decision.

“Commissioner Crotty’s notion that we can do even more to demonstrate to the public that New York’s pari-mutuel racing is open, honest and fair is right on target,” said Commission Chairman Mark D. Gearan. “We will implement the initiatives to bring about more positive change to New York horse racing.”

“It is of the utmost importance that the Commission protect the wagering public. We need to start with Thoroughbred racing practices and then bring harness racing into the mix,” said Commissioner Crotty.

Commissioner Crotty presented several changes that would be directed by the Commission. These are:

  • Mandating that all individual votes by Stewards following an inquiry or an objection be maintained and disclosed
  • Ensuring there is no communication permitted between the Stewards and jockeys, trainers, agents, or racetrack management while an inquiry or objection is being determined, unless initiated by the Stewards. If there are any such communications, there should be a publicly available record of all such contacts made
  • Developing a centralized, public database to contain all available video of each inquiry and objection and the written rulings made by the Stewards on incidents

The Commission will also explore the following issues to increase transparency and accountability:

  • Requiring Stewards to develop a meaningful daily, detailed racing incident report, similar to what is employed by the Hong Kong Jockey Club
  • Create a best practices approach to adjudication and seeking to develop uniform national rules to govern disqualifications
  • Increasing transparency through greater disclosure of wagering pools
  • Taping or videotaping of interviews conducted by the Stewards during the course of inquiries and objections
  • Having the Stewards maintain a record of all horses tested for drugs after a race, and publicly disclose the names of the horses

The Commission will also reach out to the New York State Racing Fan Advisory Council and to the wagering public to develop further recommendations on how best to increase transparency and public confidence.

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