Uptick in Equine Deaths at Belmont Park in June

Between June 1 and June 20, 2016,  there were eight equine deaths while in training or racing at the New York Racing Association’s Belmont Park. Over the same time frame in 2015, there were two equine deaths while racing at Belmont Park; in 2014 there was one racing and one training death at Belmont over the same time frame.

According to the NYS Gaming Commission’s Equine Breakdown, Death, Injury and Incident Database, two of the breakdowns were on Belmont’s training track, the remaining occurred on the Main track.

The horses that suffered fatal, catastrophic breakdowns are:

  • Todo Onota
  • Escape to Vegas
  • Bonita Luna
  • Majestic Joe
  • Rose Bern
  • Riding the Rails
  • Mordi’s Miracle
  • Noble’s Whim

 

Lady Aurelia Vanquishes Royal Ascot: Twitter Reacts

 

Saratoga Alliance Puts Cuomo Racing Plan Out to Pasture

According to a coalition of Saratoga Springs racing, political and business interests, the New York Racing Association’s reprivatization options presented in a plan to Governor Andrew Cuomo have been set aside. In their place is an outline that cedes control of NYRA to the state via an executive board stacked with public appointees, and financial and operational controls spread around the state’s bureaucracy.

What was. What is.

In 2012, irregularities in takeouts of exotic wagers were the tipping point that brought NYRA into a forced partnership with the state; the governor and legislators enacted the New York State Racing Franchise Accountability and Transparency Act of 2012. Originally scheduled to return to private ownership in 2015, NYRA produced a plan the governor elected not to pursue, and instead, extended state control for one year.

Earlier this year, NYRA submitted a reorganization plan with three options for going forward:

  • An option where the board of directors was made up of private sector members
  • An option where there were four publicly appointed members of the board of directors
  • An option to extend the current status of NYRA for another year

Shhh!

In Albany, nary a peep has been said on the record about the proposed reprivatization plans. Queries to legislators in both houses confirmed they had not been apprised of the Cuomo version.

However, the Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing has been monitoring the matter. It maintains that Cuomo is seeking to hold public control of NYRA and raid NYRA’s legally designated coffers to boost the general fund.

In a statement from the Concerned Citizens, released over the signature of Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus, the leadership group made its position clear:

We are vehemently opposed to the transfer of funds legally designated via prior agreements to support our state’s Thoroughbred racing industry into the state’s general fund. This change ignores the fact that New York State was given $1 billion in real estate at NYRA’s three tracks in return for the granting of a 25-year franchise agreement and a legislatively-approved revenue sharing formula from the VLT at Aqueduct. The VLT revenues are like mortgage payments for the land.

The Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing has been able to parse out these points of the Executive Chamber’s reorganization plan:

The Governor’s proposal will:

  • Allow the Governor to appoint one-third of the members to the new NYRA board of directors or 5 of the 15 members;
  • With one member also appointed by the Senate and Assembly, there would be at least 7 of the 15 members appointed directly by our state government;
  • The Governor would also appoint the new Chair of the board of directors;
  • Transfer VLT funds away from NYRA that were previously designed for Capital improvements at Belmont, Aqueduct and the Saratoga Race Course as well as funds for NYRA operations;
  • Provide sweeping new powers to various public agencies expanding their role from oversight to protect the public good, to empowering these agencies to be able to manipulate NYRA’s budget and operations.

Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing Rejects Governor’s NYRA Re-privatization Plan

(Press Release)

The Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing rejects a re-privatization plan now being circulated by Governor Cuomo that seeks to retain public control of NYRA and to unilaterally transfer funds legally designated for our state’s Thoroughbred racing industry into the state’s general fund.

The Governor’s proposal will:

  • Allow the Governor to appoint one-third of the members to the new NYRA board of directors or 5 of the 15 members;
  • With one member also appointed by the Senate and Assembly, there would be at least 7 of the 15 members appointed directly by our state government;
  • The Governor would also appoint the new Chair of the Board of Directors;
  • Transfer VLT funds away from NYRA that were previously designed for Capital improvements at Belmont, Aqueduct and the Saratoga Race Course as well as funds for NYRA operations;
  • Provide sweeping new powers to various public agencies expanding their role from oversight to protect the public good, to empowering these agencies to be able to manipulate NYRA’s budget and operations.

Four years ago, this Governor promised to return NYRA to a not-for-profit corporation in three years. He did not keep that promise last year. This year, his plan is another means by which he is seeking to exert his control over NYRA and the future of our state’s Thoroughbred racing industry.

We are vehemently opposed to the transfer of funds legally designated via prior agreements to support our state’s Thoroughbred racing industry into the state’s general fund. This change ignores the fact that New York State was given $1 billion in real estate at NYRA’s three tracks in return for the granting of a 25-year franchise agreement and a legislatively-approved revenue sharing formula from the VLT at Aqueduct. The VLT revenues are like mortgage payments for the land. If they can change the agreement this year, they will change it next year too.

We’re seeing a renaissance of racing in Saratoga and New York State. Here in Saratoga our race meeting is one of the most successful and most popular in all of the world. The Saratoga Race Course is the oldest sporting venue in the United States and the transfer of funds away from NYRA as proposed by the Governor could harm our plans to improve this facility so that it succeeds for another 150 years.

We greatly appreciate the efforts of Saratoga’s local legislators working collaboratively with the Capital Region’s delegation and the Chairs of the Assembly and Senate Racing Committees to re-privatize NYRA as a not-for-profit corporation. They clearly want to keep this promise before the legislative session ends this June. We hope that they will provide a clean stand-alone bill for the Governor to sign.
Members of the Executive Board of the Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing include: Maureen Lewi, Chair; Todd Shimkus; Charles Wait; John Hendrickson; Matt Jones; Cindy Hollowood; and Rod Sutton.

Todd L. Shimkus, CCE
President
Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce
28 Clinton Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
www.saratoga.org

Footwear For a Wet Day at the Track

Make a rainy day at the track a breeze with these weatherproof and waterproof shoes. There’s a style for everyone from stiletto heeled mavens to walk-over friendly flats.

If you like to prepare ahead of time, many shoe-soles can be rubberized by a cobbler!

Aquatalia's "Harlee" weatherproof pump. $395 at Nordstrom
Aquatalia’s “Harlee” weatherproof pump. $395 at Nordstrom

 

100% waterproof Breezy Ballet from Muck Boot Company. $70 from Muck Boot. Available in solids and floral, too.
Aquatalia's "Shelby" in Bark suede, also in black calf or black suede. $495 at Zappo's.
Aquatalia’s “Shelby” in Bark suede, also in black calf or black suede. $495 at Zappo’s.
Bogs Urban Farmer Shoe. Comes in black and teal, too. $80 at Zappo's.
Bogs “Urban Farmer Shoe” in red; comes in black and teal, too. $80 at Zappo’s.

Cole Haan "Kelsey" waterproof pump. Also comes in a nude neutral. About $200 at Nordstrom.

Cole Haan “Kelsey” waterproof pump. Also comes in a nude neutral. About $200 at Nordstrom.

Muck™ Women's Muckster II Ankle Boots; $99 at Cabela's.
Muck™ Women’s Muckster II Ankle Boots; $99 at Cabela’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ADDENDUM

As suggested on Twitter, there are those who like to MacGyver their own footwear. With that in mind:

macgyver

 

 

 

 

 

ziploc

gorilla

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF THE NYRA REPRIVATIZATION PLAN

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF THE NYRA REPRIVATIZATION PLAN

Introduction

Pursuant to The New York State Racing Franchise Accountability and Transparency Act of 2012, NYRA management has a statutory plan for its prospective not-for-profit governing structure, which is comprised of three parts: 1) summary of NYRA’s reorganization efforts to date; 2) proposals for NYRA’s legal and governance structures; and 3) NYRA’s 2014 and 2015 actual results, approved 2016 budget, and proposed 2017 financial plan.

 

1. NYRA’s Reorganization Efforts – A Board-led Transformation: Progress and Accomplishments

       

The Reorganization Board has worked for the past three (and in particular, the past two) years with the NYRA management team to effectuate the change, and achieve the results, sought by Governor Cuomo.  The Board has succeeded in a way that makes the New York Racing Association stronger, better run, more trustworthy, and much better  able to continue to generate the significant economic impact, jobs and tourism that Governor Cuomo and the Legislature envisioned when they made the change in NYRA’s Board structure.

 

NYRA is under New Management – The management of NYRA has been transformed by new leaders with successful and established careers outside of NYRA.  Led by CEO and President Chris Kay, NYRA also has a new General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer, who formerly served as global General Counsel for one of the “Big Four” accounting firms (Deloitte); a Senior Vice President for Racing Operations from California’s Hollywood Park (pursuant to NYS 2012 Task Force recommendations); a Senior Vice President and Chief Experience Officer (the first in the sports industry) who formerly served as an executive with a sporting goods company and with a major movie company; a new Vice President of Security, who formerly served as the Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s New York Field Office, as well other new hires at various leadership levels throughout the company.  

 

Financial Performance – NYRA has instituted several initiatives to reduce costs and generate additional revenues. As a result, in 2014 NYRA achieved an operating surplus of approximately $1.7 million, its first operating surplus in recent years, and NYRA’s surplus will be $3.5 million in 2015.  NYRA is also debt-free for the first time in years, having paid off a $25 million note to Genting.

 

Governance, Integrity and Accountability – NYRA has made extensive operating reforms in areas such as risk management, compliance, corporate governance and attention to legal issues. For example, NYRA has changed from a local auditor to KPMG, one of the “Big Four” auditing firms. Over the last several years, NYRA’s audits have been “clean”, i.e. in the view of KPMG our financial statements accurately present, in all material respects, the financial position of NYRA.

 

Economic Impact – NYRA is the cornerstone of New York State’s horse racing industry, which generates $2.1 billion in annual economic impact and over 17,000 statewide jobs.  With a commitment to generate more tourism and provide greater financial incentives to NY bred owners, NYRA’s operation of Saratoga Race Course alone is responsible for the creation of an annual economic impact of more than $237 million in the Capital Region, a significant boost to that local economy which continues to grow.

 

NYRA DRAFT – 04.12.16

 

 

 

Safer Horseracing – NYRA has instituted a number of changes to improve equine safety for the equine athletes and jockeys, such as empowering veterinarians to take action when necessary, requiring record keeping on certain drug administrations, establishing a system for jockeys to report violations, creating a Board committee on equine safety, hiring a safety steward, and many others.  The number of equine catastrophic injuries on NYRA racetracks is below the average nationwide.

 

Improving the Quality of Racing – NYRA has made racing much more enjoyable for stakeholders and guests by creating “must see” big events days such as (a) Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, with over $10 million in purses, and many guest-centric innovations; (b) Stars & Stripes Day with horses competing from around the world; (c) increased grades stakes and purses on Whitney Day; and (d) a robust Travers card of races (“Saratoga’s version of the Breeders’ Cup”). NYRA broke records for wagering on Belmont Stakes Day and for the Saratoga meet. NYRA has also created new events that shine a bright light on New York agriculture, such as our Taste NY weekly Saratoga events, and Saratoga Showcase Day, which features New York bred horses.   

 

Support for New York Breeders – NYRA is dedicated to New York bred horses, and has worked closely with the New York Thoroughbred Breeders to make New York one of the few states to see an increase in the number of foals in recent years.  NYRA devoted almost $40 million in purses to owners of New York bred horses in 2014, and a like amount in 2015.  

Support for the Backstretch Workers – Over the last two years, a number of dormitory renovations has taken place at all three racetracks.  New construction on the first of three large dormitories at Belmont commenced in 2015, as part of a multi-year, $28.8 million renovation/new construction program.

Enhancing the Guest Experience – NYRA has taken considerable steps to improve the experience for all fans at all tracks, including:

 

Belmont Park:

  • NYRA installed 378 high-definition televisions and 3 high-definition video boards, as well as provided several high-definition “point of view” cameras for fans to customize the way they watch horse workouts, horses in the paddock, and the races. At the finish line, NYRA has also installed a high-definition slow motion camera.
  • At the 2015 Belmont Stakes, fans were able to experience a great package of entertainment, including performances by the United States Military Academy at West Point’s veteran band, the Jersey Boys, and the Goo Goo Dolls, who also performed a concert after the last race.
  • NYRA limited the attendance to 90,000 and, working with LIRR, completely renovated the LIRR station, all of which made ingress and egress much more pleasant and manageable for fans.

 

Saratoga Race Course:

  • NYRA installed 1,063 new high-definition televisions, three new high-definition video boards, enhanced Wi-Fi capacity, and a new sound system.
  • NYRA expanded the Saratoga Pavilion, which is the home of several Taste NY events, one of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature initiatives. Each Thursday, Friday and Sunday, NYRA features Taste NY wines, beers and food products.
  • NYRA created the Walk of Fame, an open-air pavilion honoring the recipients of the prestigious “Red Jacket” award, created in 2013 to honor the best owners, trainers and jockeys in our sport, thus giving fans of all ages a way to “connect” with our stars.
  • NYRA opened a state-of-the-art sports bar in what was formerly known as the lower Carousel, enabling fans to reserve tables and watch other sporting events in addition to our great races throughout the day.

 

Aqueduct Racetrack:

  • NYRA constructed a state-of-the-art simulcast center, Longshots, with 270 dedicated carrels, a sports bar, and dozens of new high-definition televisions.
  • NYRA installed new flooring, airport-style seating and lighting within the clubhouse, as well as 507 new high-definition televisions.
  • NYRA created an urban art program unveiled in 2013 featuring vibrant, horse-themed murals from internationally renowned “street artists” throughout the second floor and on our exterior walls.

 

OLD NYRA CURRENT – NEW YORK RACING ASSOCIATION
•       $25 Million in debt since 2011.

 

•       Inconsistent profitability. .

 

•       Improper calculation of exotic wagering take-out (20112012).

 

•       High rate of equine catastrophic injuries, 38 in total in 2012.

 

•       Inadequate investment in facilities, especially those used by customers.

 

•       Debt free as of April 2014.

 

•       $1.7 million operating surplus for 2014 and $3.5 million in 2015.  First back-to-back profitability since the bankruptcy.

 

•       Implemented wagering accountability processes in 2013.

 

•       Equine injuries below the national average in 2013, 2014, and 2015 with 22, 24 and 19 respectively.

 

•       Spent $20+ million at all three racetracks during 2013-2015 to enhance the guest experience.

 

 

2. Proposals for NYRA’s Legal and Governance Structure

 

Legal Structure – Section 207(1)(d) of the Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law requires the Reorganization Board to “propose, no less than one hundred eighty days prior to its termination, recommendations to the governor and the state legislature representing a statutory plan for the prospective not-for-profit governing structure of The New York Racing Association”, and the statutory notes clarify that the “franchise shall be returned to private control, remaining in the form of a not-for-profit corporation.”  Therefore, going forward, NYRA will continue to be organized as a New York not-for-profit company and will be under private control.    

Governance – Upon consultations with various constituencies, NYRA offers the following options relative to the selection and terms of the new NYRA Board:

 

Option 1.  NYRA Board to have Majority of Private Members and Four Publicly

Appointed Members.  The NYRA Board will have 15 members, all with equal voting rights.  Two members will be selected by the Governor, one of which will be the first Chair. One member will be selected by the Temporary President of the Senate and one member will be selected by the Speaker of the Assembly. Ten members will be selected by the current Executive Committee of the Board upon the recommendation of the Nominations and Governance Committee.

 

Option 2.  NYRA Board to have All Private Members.  The NYRA Board will have 15 members, all with equal voting rights.  All members and the Chair will be selected by the current Executive Committee of the Board upon the recommendation of the Nominations and Governance Committee.

With respect to options 1 and 2, prior to its recommendations, the Nominations and Governance Committee will have held soundings with all members of the existing Board.  The NYRA CEO will also be a full member of the Board, and the following will be in effect:

  • Board Terms: Three years, and eligible for two additional terms.  Terms will rotate, starting end of 2017.
  • Ex Officio Non-Voting Members: To include representatives from the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) and New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. (NY Breeders), with Board empowered to add others.
  • Board Committees: Keep current statutory committees:  Compensation; Finance; Nominating, and Executive.  We would add two non-statutory committees: Equine Safety and Racing Committees, both of which are currently operating.
  • To ensure transparency, NYRA will post on its website the reports of the CEO and CFO (and, as applicable, the Chair) from each Board meeting.

 

Option 3.  NYRA Reorganization Board to Remain in Place.  The Governor and Legislature may choose to retain the status quo and extend the tenure of the Reorganization Board for one additional year.

 3.  Financial Plan

In 2014, NYRA recorded its first operating surplus ($1.7 million) in recent years, as a result of our implementation of several revenue enhancing and cost saving initiatives.  NYRA budgeted a surplus of $2.2 million in 2015 (which is now $3.5 million), has budgeted a surplus of $2.3 million in 2016, and projects a $2.8 million surplus in 2017.  These operating surpluses, year over year, reflects our commitment to strong business processes and disciplines, which results in prudent cost cutting, strategic investments, and revenue enhancing initiatives.

Dickinson Returns A Winner At Laurel (Press Release)

Photo via Laurel Park
Photo via Laurel Park

April 3, 2016
Contact: david.joseph@marylandracing.com or call 954.658.7156

LAUREL, MD – It didn’t take long for Michael Dickinson to find himself back in the winner’s circle

The Maryland-based trainer won with the first horse he saddled since retiring in 2007 when Augustin Stable’s Tide Is High, who had not run since September, went wire-to-wire in an entry-level allowance race late Saturday on the turf at Laurel Park.

It was the first time Dickinson saddled a horse as a licensed trainer since Dec. 8, 2007 at Turfway Park. It was also Dickinson’s first trip to Laurel since 2003 when he won two graded-stakes in one day. A Huevo won the 2003 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G1) and Tapit won the Laurel Futurity (G2).

“I’ve really enjoyed my training again. I came back to train because I want to train and I enjoy it,” said Dickinson, who decided to return to training last summer. “I love training on the farm.

“Today, I’m not too pleased.  She’s a good horse, I didn’t train her very well. She used to run off a little bit last year and I thought I had her relaxed and I didn’t.  So I’m not pleased, I’m not even a tiny little bit pleased.  I might be relieved, but at least we had a winner.  But we’ve got to do much better than that.”

Dickinson retired from training in 2007 after having won 587 races, including a pair of Breeders’ Cup races with Da Hoss in 1996 and 1998. Since 2007, Dickinson spent his time inventing and developing the Tapeta Surface, a synthetic racing surface now used by racetracks all over the world and named after Dickinson’s farm, Tapeta Farm, in North East, MD.

When asked if he has any new training methods this time around, the Yorkshire, England native, who is now 66, said he has many new methods to apply to his craft.

“Oh yes, a zillion different things…a very different Michael Dickinson trainer,” he said.  “I didn’t do very well before, I want to do better this time. That’s why I’ve come back because I didn’t think I did very well and I want to prove to myself that I’m not quite as bad as I thought I was.”

Laurel Park is a Stronach Group company, North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. . For more information contact David Joseph at david.joseph@marylandracing.com or call 954.658.7156

Essay from Horse Racing Ireland

By Michael O’Rourke, Horse Racing Ireland

Ireland is the land of the horse, known throughout the world as a centre of excellence for breeding, horse training and racing thoroughbred horses.

At the centre of Ireland’s racing tradition lies Kildare, the thoroughbred county and the heart of that living tradition is the Curragh, a 5000 acre plain, one of Europe’s oldest natural grasslands perfectly designed by time and the hand of man for one of nature’s most beautiful sights, the running horse.

Tales of horses running on the Curragh plains take us beyond recorded history to the myths and legends of old Ireland which tell of Fin McCool and his warriors, the Fianna, emerging from their fortress on the Hill of Allen to race their horses across these plains.

By the 17th century, Dublin came to the Curragh, not for war but for sport, as the gentry gathered on the plains for hunting with hounds, and above all challenging each other to match races. By the late 18th century, the Turf Club was established in Kildare to formalize the rules of racing and to publish a calendar with details of the races run in Ireland. Bloodstock breeding activities led to Bird Catcher, a handsome colt who was one of the most brilliant on the Curragh and whose descendants have made him one of the greatest sires in racing history.

Thus, the foundations were laid for the success story that is Irish Racing. Modern Irish racing took shape with the establishment of the Irish Derby in 1866, the first and greatest of the Curragh classic races. The Irish Oaks, the Irish St. Leger and the Irish Two-Thousand and One-Thousand Guineas followed after. Commercial sponsorship of the Derby, first by the Irish Sweeps and then by Budweiser, put the race firmly in the international limelight and the world’s best horses have ever since contested this jewel in the crown of Irish racing.

One name bestrides the racing history of Ireland like a colossus, Vincent O’Brien, winner of the Triple Crown with Nijinsky, a feat not matched since. In an exceptional career, O’Brien would claim six Epsom Derby’s, three Prix de l’Arc de Triomphes, three successive Aintree Grand Nationals, and four Cheltenham Gold Cups.

Vincent O’Brien’s successor at Ballydoyle bears the same name, but is no relation, other than unshared genius with the racehorses. Aidan O’Brien has rewritten the records so often that any attempt to capture his achievements on the printed page would ensure that piece became outdated overnight.

The story is still being written and new stars of the turf appear every year. The sport itself is changing rapidly but one constant remains – the passion for racing among the Irish people and our natural affinity for the horse as breeders, trainers, jockeys, grooms and in a myriad of other supporting roles. The Celtic warriors of the Fianna no longer race across the plains, but the Celtic tiger’s progeny still come to match the best against the best and while doing so have plenty of fun.

Irish racing festivals have become the major social and sporting occasions of Irish life in every season of the year and maintaining a sporting tradition that spans the centuries, Irish jockeys, trainers and horses continue to win the world over.

Shared Belief Is Lost to Colic

Colic is a merciless thief, taking when and where it wants. Thursday afternoon, news of Shared Belief succumbing to colic left a plaintive void in horse racing and among the legion of horse lovers that transcends sport and borders. Despite advancements in surgeries and medications, some cases of colic just aren’t fixable.

Whether the horse is a demi-god like Shared Belief or a backyard pony, with a tough case of colic the decision to euthanize is both easy and difficult. Easy because after options have been tried and evaluated, it is the only path that remains to abate pain, suffering and possible further injury; when we sign on as horse owners, keeping horses pain-free and comfortable is our creed. Difficult because, admit it or not, we love them, and consider them family; and we grieve and don’t want to let them go…

Shared Belief was a tremendous race horse. Fast, game, tactical, an Eclipse Award champion. His lithe, aerodynamic frame skipped over the track, besting war horses like California Chrome and Moreno. In the Charles Town Classic, jockey Mike Smith felt Shared Belief wasn’t travelling correctly and pulled him up. It turned out the favorite had a non-displaced fracture of the point of a hip. With stall rest, rehabbing at Pegasus Equine Rehabilitation and Training Center (the Mayo Clinic of horse facilities) and a leisurely return to life at the track, the four-year-old gelding was on course.

That is until something went awry in the loops, curves and switchbacks that characterize the geography of a horse’s intestines. According to Jim Rome on Jungle Racing’s Facebook page, Shared Belief was observed being uncomfortable and treatment started immediately, see link below. Unresponsive to initial protocols, Shared Belief was emergency shipped to University of California, Davis Equine Surgical Emergency and Critical Care Service where it was discerned surgery was the only recourse.

No veterinarian wants to say and no owner wants to hear that a horse is compromised to the point of needing surgery to resolve an acute colic. Shared Belief was unable to overcome colic’s assault on his system and did not survive.
.
Requiescat in pace.

Thoroughbred racing is a sport filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Some of the most thrilling and…

Posted by Jungle Racing on Thursday, December 3, 2015

Link embedded from Facebook

Racing Films & Panel Featured at EQUUS Film Festival

2015-11-16-1447702331-9545003-lilhercapple.jpg
Image & art courtesy of ©Beatrice Bulteau & Suzanne Kopp-Moskow
A broad-based panel comprised of racing industry professionals and film makers will present “The Right Side of the Track: The Positive Side of Horse Racing” at 3:15 p.m., Friday, November 20, at the EQUUS Film Festival in New York City. The panel  will include a 15 minute film, The Black Turf Project, which looks at the role black jockeys have in racing history incl as first winners of the KY Derby. The racing films will be screened throughout the festival.

L. A. Pomeroy of Equestrian Media Services will moderate the panel that includes: 

  • Nicholas Carter & Drew Perkins, directors, Racing the Times film
  • Daryle Ann Lindley Giardino, Executive Producer, Behind The Gate film
  • Gary Contessa, licensed Thoroughbred trainer and racing educator, Contessa Racing Stable
  • Ross Peddicord, Program Executive Director, MD Horse Industry Board
  • Ken Brown, The Black Turf Project film
  • Rachel Connolly Kwock, Producer/Director, Riding in Stride film

Yes that’s four films covering horse racing being screened at the festival! Check for times here.

 Celebration of horses
You’ll find feature films, documentaries, shorts, even commercials from every corner of the U.S. as well as from Europe, Tibet and India. Find all festival information on the website and Facebook page.

Starting with a VIP party (attend with a free pass) at Manhattan Saddlery on Thursday evening, over the next two days the EQUUS Film Festival features juried screenings on Friday and Saturday, and several lectures and directors’ panels that range from wild horses to horse racing, with discussions about horse psyches and welfare issues too.

A common thread throughout the films and panels is telling the stories of horses. For this festival, horses aren’t supporting cast, they are the main characters and catalysts. Festival founder Lisa Diersen, started with this premise three years ago, in St. Charles, Illinois. Since then, the festival has moved to Manhattan and settled in to the landmark Village East Cinema, that is a showcase venue for other festivals including the esteemed Tribeca Film Festival. Activities other than screenings will take place at the Ukrainian National Home at 140-142 2nd Avenue, 2nd floor.

The legend of Snowman

2015-11-16-1447706083-8901084-HarryandSnowman.jpg
 

Photo courtesy of Harry and Snowman/©Budd Photo

Not to be missed is Harry and Snowman, the tale of a discarded Amish plow horse, destined for slaughter, who was given a reprieve by a post-WWII émigré from Holland, Harry de Leyer. Without giving everything away, Snowman becomes a national celebrity and a cherished member of de Leyer’s family. Film maker Ron Davis put out a call to the horse show community and was able to interview de Leyer’s contemporaries and to access amateur and professional vintage photos and footage of Snowman and de Leyer in action. The de Leyer family, including Harry, is integral to the film.

Kids and horses … free activities!
Of interest to families, children are welcome to a morning full of horse-themed activities at the Li’l Herc’s Kids Fest Children’s Film Screening & Fest – at no cost, but reservations are required. This event is at Ukrainian National Home.

In addition to the films, the theater will house a Literary Corner where authors of equestrian-themed literature will be available to meet the public and sign books. A Pop-Up Artist, Filmmakers & Literary Gallery will be featured Friday and Saturday afternoons at the Ukrainian National Home.

EQUUS festival attendance and ticket costs start at free for Lil Herc’s Kids Fest and Thursday’s VIP reception (both require reservations) to $250 for a full-immersion Pony VIP all-access pass. Screening options are $35-$50.