New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed a balanced budget for 2011 that includes a 2.75 percent state surcharge on purses for all horse races run in New York. The money the surcharge would generate, estimated at $7.6 million in 2011 and $8.5 million in 2012, would go to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, which has been running at a deficit.
The governor's budget plan, which must be approved by the legislature, also includes an expansion of free-play offerings by the racetrack casinos. That is projected to create $38 million in new revenues.
Joe Faraldo, president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, said the surcharge on purses included in New York's proposed budget "is a trend. An ugly trend," and is intended to cover the cost of drug testing, which was once paid for by the tracks, but has recently been covered by the Racing and Wagering Board.
"This money to cover drug testing needs to be taken from the horsemen and the tracks equally," said Faraldo. "It seems that when it comes to costs, we have evolved to the meaning that costs are only the horsemen's costs. I guess the surcharge would even apply to stakes when the horsemen are racing for mostly their own money. We're hopeful that we can get this changed."
Faraldo added that New York already has a $10 per start fee per horse that was supposed to go into a fund to pay for steroid testing by Cornell University's laboratory. "We did not oppose this," said Faraldo, "but we ended up without steroid testing because of the shortfall in funds for other testing. So we never got the benefit of what that legislation (for steroid testing) promised us."