President and CEO of the New York Racing Association, Dave O’Rourke said NYRA did not handle well the timing of the announcement of taking races off the schedule. The association changed three races on Sunday at Saratoga Racecourse and he apologized to horseplayers for not being able to return their wagered money in multiple-race pools.

Over the weekend, as horses were readied for Sunday’s sixth race, which was a dirt race and the first leg of the late pick five, NYRA reported that races 7, 9, and 10, would be moved from turf to the dirt. This essentially left horseplayers with no time to cancel or change their pick-five tickets as race 6 started at its initially scheduled time.

*Rules Do Not Allow Refund

In a recent TV appearance, host and analyst Andy Serling said it was NYRA’s intention to refund the late pick-five pool to horseplayers. However, the rules of racing indicated that races that change surfaces after a wagering has already closed are considered all-win races. Therefore, the late pick-five returned a trivial US$25 for a 50-cent bet.

Mr. O’Rourke also said the plan was to return the money, which is slightly out of the normal, but in his words, it felt like the right thing to do. However, he explained that the organization is not able to refund the pool, as stewards ultimately make the decisions in terms of what is in the rules and what is not. That is why once in a while there are gaps for strange situations, such as this one.

He also noted that the timeline featured discussions with jockeys who expressed alarms about the turf course after race 4, when a horse, Ever Summer, suffered fatal injuries. However, the decision was not made until after race 5, thus moving the rest three turf races to the dirt. The official shared there was a request to start race 6 to stewards, but it was denied.

Lastly, Mr. O’Rourke stated that NYRA will try to make amends by seeding certain pools at some point during the second half of the summer meet at Saratoga. There are no details at the moment, but those requests must also be approved by the New York State Gaming Commission. NYRA also reported that it will seed this Saturday’s late pick-5 pool with US$100,000.

*Another Exciting Meet

In July 2023, NYRA kicked off its annual edition of the 40-day Saratoga summer meet at Saratoga Race Course. The season features 71 world-class stakes events with over US$20.8 million in purse money. Once more, the meet will be highlighted by Whitney on August 5, 2023, and the 154th Travers on August 26, 2023. It will conclude on September 4, 2023.

In addition to the action-packed calendar for the meet, NYRA also reported that its US$600,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational will award entry to the AU$5-million Cox Plate. The latter event will be hosted on October 28, 2023, at Mooney Valley in Victoria, Australia. The winner will also receive additional subsidies for transportation and accommodation.

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