Optimists will say that NYRA caught a break Thursday when Judge Barry D. Kramer, a former NBA basketball player, ruled that Aqueduct Entertainment Co. could not sue Lottery for excluding it from further consideration in the nine-year process to name a VLT operator for Aqueduct. But pessimists will point out that Gov. Exit and the two ranking Dumocrats – one from Brooklyn and the other from Manhattan - still will have to approve any forthcoming appointment. To date, that has been a challenging task.
Legal entanglements came into play on another front. Jeffrey Tucker, a New York horseman who used to lend the use of his Stonebridge Farm in Northumberland, NY to Equine Advocates for its annual dinner and auction, was named in a suit filed by the court appointed trustee overlooking liquidation of Bernie Madoff’s investment firm. The court appointed trustee is seeking more than $3.6 billion from Tucker and other defendants who he claims helped Madoff with his $65 billion Ponzi scheme. Egads, that’s a lot of money.
In recent years, Tucker’s problems have forced Equine Advocates to move their event to Canfield Casino, a considerably smaller hall. That has caused event tickets to soar to $250 per plate – the highest ticket price for any of Saratoga’s many charity functions. Thankfully, the recession hasn’t come to those who partake in such extravagance. Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, and Bo Derek, a metaphor for 10, were honored last night.
Friday was College Day at the racecourse and money changed hands in the form of eight $1000 scholarships from NYRA to lucky students who entered a sweepstakes. In keeping with the theme, Race for Education, represented by the hard-working Elisabeth Jensen, connected with one of its biggest benefactors Paul Sayler to turn the featured Fleet Indian Stakes into a fund-raiser. Sayler, the owner of the New York-bred filly after which the Stakes was named, was seen pedaling his bicycle on East Avenue in the direction of the track at about 6:00 am. He’s an early riser.
My Dinah, trained by Kathleen Feron and ridden by Jose Espinoza, received her baccalaureate in the $70,000 Fleet Indian. It was her first victory in five starts this year, her first victory at seven furlongs and her first victory at Saratoga.
Freshmen fillies raced in two different races – the first a 5 ½ furlong turf dash and the latter a 1 1/16 mile turf event. The odds-on favorite Letshootpool broke her maiden for Linda Rice in the fourth. Arch Support defeated several horses with fancier pedigrees for Gary Contessa in the sixth.
Heading into the weekend, Javier Castellano led the jockeys with nine winning rides. Chad Brown has the lead in the trainer standings. Sting fronts the London Philharmonic at SPAC Saturday night. The concert had better be a lot of Sting and a little Philharmonic.