A Perfect Storm: NYRA’s Winter of Investigations

New York Racing Association’s last 5 months has been anything less than stellar. A recently promoted racing secretary has been escorted off the grounds. Linda Rice is under investigation with the NYSGC & finally “weight gate.”  True to their leaderships past performances they just act as if none of the above facts have occurred. Trying to get a comment from Chris Kay or Martin Panza is like trying to crack the DaVinci Code.

Let’s start with Matt Salvato who was officially promoted to the position of NYRA’s racing secretary on October 25,2017. Martin Panza Senior VP of Racing Operations reaped praise saying this about Matt. “Matt is a talented professional with a bright future in racing, we’ve always had the highest confidence in his abilities and we’re especially pleased to be able to promote from within the racing office.”  92 days later Matt Salvato was escorted off the grounds of Aqueduct and was “trespassed” as per NYRA spokesman Pat McKenna. Matt is no longer licensed by the NYS Racing Commission.

Most recently in early February Linda Rice admitted she was being investigated by the NYSGC. The assumption is that Linda was paying people who worked within the racing office. They would let her know which horses were being entered into races thus giving her a competitive edge. Linda did say “I gave Christmas gifts to the gate crew and racing office not for exchange of information,”  Linda’s money giving practices goes back to 2010.  Jose Morales Jr. &  Matt Salvato both worked in the racing office at that time. Jose & Matt both are no longer employed by NYRA and are no longer licensed by the NYS Racing Commission.

Two weeks after the Linda Rice investigation we now have “Weight Gate.” On February 8,2018 Wildcat Belle won the 5th race at Aqueduct but has now been DQ’d because she allegedly carried the improper weight of 121 pounds. Because she had won a race at Parx on Feb 5,2018 she should have carried 123 pounds in the February 8th race. According to NYRA’s rules “any horse that has been the subject of improper practice may be disqualified for such time and for such races as the stewards shall determine.” Ben Mondello the owner of Wildcat Belle is appealing this ruling. Due to the ruling Mr Mondello has to return the $30,000 first place purse earnings. He is quoted saying “If I have to take it to the federal courts I’ll do that,”  “They make a mockery of the scale of weights,” he said. “Now you want to disqualify me under those conditions.”Mr Mondello & his attorney met with the stewards at Aqueduct. Steve Lewandowski one of the NYSGC stewards walked out of the meeting before it concluded.

Quite a winter at Aqueduct I’m just wondering if Spring will bring some improvement to this beleaguered racing association?





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