A consortium of community and racing VIPs, assembled under the name Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing, have requested the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing put out a more protective request for proposal for bids to run New York's race courses.
The citizens group has put together a list of nine items that should be addressed by whoever wins the bidding process to control the Saratoga Race Course. The current RFP addresses seven of the points, said Joseph Dalton, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and member of the Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing, at a press conference Monday, but the remaining two are crucial to Saratoga's future.
The spring and fall training sessions at the race course should be retained and enhanced, members of the organization said. These training sessions create jobs in the area, they said, and also support breeding farms throughout the state.
The training location also benefits the horses, said Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito. If you're a product of your environment, then there is no better place to train a horse than Saratoga, he said. "We have a gift from God that is Saratoga, and whoever is in charge of racing here in the future needs to understand that, and not ever leave that training out."
The second major point that was left out the RFP, said Dalton, was a provision that any expansion plans be submitted to local authorities, to include the local zoning and planning boards, for approval. John Oxley, a Kentucky-based horse owner agreed that the look and feel of Saratoga should not be changed by any future racing authority.
"You go on a beautiful day, like today, to the track, and you realize there is no more a beautiful lifestyle than this, whether you're an owner, trainer or a fan," he said. "Let's not allow the ambience to be changed."