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Track opens gates early for family fun

Famed horse trainer Gary Contessa taking some time to talk horses – and NYRA. Contessa is seen here with Social Saul, a friendly horse who won the New York Derby last year.

Famed horse trainer Gary Contessa taking some time to talk horses – and NYRA. Contessa is seen here with Social Saul, a friendly horse who won the New York Derby last year. Photo by Julie Cushine-Rigg.

— “Every horse is different. Certain horses you can’t train every day, they’re very fragile or their mind can’t handle it,” he said. “Some horses need more, some need less….you have to know your horse personally.”

A new year for an institution

This year’s meet marks the first Saratoga season since NYRA underwent a dramatic spring shakeup during which President and CEO Charles Hayward was ousted in the midst of a wagering scandal and Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered a new leadership structure for the organization.

NYRA officials declined to discuss the matter in even broad terms, but Contessa doesn’t think recent events will put a damper on the meet.

“I believe all this negativity is just breeding more negativity.… But I see that behind the scenes that good things are happening. A new marketing man, new board of directors. … I think NYRA is undergoing a very positive change,” he said. “This is the greatest racing experience on earth…let’s hope that there’s a cease fire for the next six weeks…it will also take a long time to rebuild the trust people lost in NYRA.”

For more information on the track and the 2012 meet, visitnyra.com.

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