At its meeting this week, the New York Gaming Commission heralded new weekly reports that purportedly foster transparency at the tracks of the New York Racing Association, with a particular emphasis on the reasons underlying decisions made by stewards on inquiries and claims of foul. Regrettably, the new system adds no information that was not already known.
The new policy came about at the suggestion of Gaming Commissioner John Crotty in March, 2014, after a questionable decision at Gulfstream Park. As Crotty observed correctly, racing fans should know why a horse was either disqualified or not. Since then, we have witnessed controversial decisions in the Breeders’ Cup Classic won by Bayern and the Fountain of Youth where Upstart was DQ’d. The Commission asked the Racing Fan Advisory Council, a state-appointed body, to make recommendations.
The Gaming Commission announced that it had started publishing weekly reports on its web site. In its press release, the Commission stated it “will immediately begin posting online weekly reports from [NYRA tracks] that include detailed explanations of any rulings, inquiries, claims of foul and more.” Here is a “detailed explanation” from the first week’s report on each of the six inquiries and claims of foul:
After reviewing the race video and speaking with all riders involved in the unanimous judgment of the Stewards no action was warranted.
This was the verbatim “explanation” of the Stewards, with minor deviations, for each of the races in which they made a decision. (Punctuation and syntax in the original.) But it adds nothing that racing fans do not already know. Of course the stewards are looking at video and talking with affected jockeys. What fans want to know, however, is why Bayern was not DQ’d and Upstart was.
It is commendable that the Gaming Commission is packaging a bunch of useful information in a weekly report, even if much of the data is readily obtainable elsewhere. Even the “explanation” of the decision by the Stewards is posted on NYRA’s web site. If, however, you want to trumpet an advance in transparency that further advances the integrity of the sport, you should actually do it.