Republican State Assembly candidate David Catalavamo wants to redefine Saratoga Springs’ popular nickname “the August place” so that it becomes the year-round venue for horse racing enthusiasts.
Catalfamo has proposed the development of Saratoga Horse Park, a year-round facility for education, horse events, trail riding and display of retired legendary racehorses, paid for with public and private funding.
The working horse farm will have family camping facilities and, as Catalfamo envisions, have affiliations with Cornell University and SUNY Adirondacks for specialized college courses and workforce development training.
“The idea really would be to extend the season of horse racing tourism all year long,” Catalavamo said in a phone interview Thursday, explaining a press release he issued earlier in the week.
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Catalfamo, an economic development officer and writer from Wilton, takes on the competition in pool area 113 against association member Carrie Warner, De Round Lake, who has strong support from the racing industry.
Her campaign contributors to this cycle include the New York Thoroughbred Horse Society, the Saratoga Horse Society, and the Skilled Horse Society.
Woerner, without specifically addressing the concept of a local horse park, said she was supportive of the horse racing industry.
“Horse racing, whether thoroughbred or harness, and the large-scale horse industry are the cornerstones of our region’s economy. …This is an area that thrives when racing thrives,” she said in a statement.
Catalfamo said his proposal for Saratoga Horse Park was modeled on similar facilities in Kentucky and Japan.
“It’s not a new idea. It’s not one of the ones I came up with,” he said.
He said the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, founded in 1978, receives hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.
Catalafamo said he hopes to develop the concept, whether he is elected or not.
“I never had anyone I suggested to say, ‘I don’t like the idea,'” he said.
This concept is the centerpiece of a five-point plan to expand the economic impact of the horse racing and agro-industries.
- Create an I Love New York Horse Country Marketing Campaign
- Abolition of the Farm Workers Wage Board
- Equine health and safety enforcement turned over to the State Department of Agriculture and Markets
- Suppression of doping of horses
Woerner has released a list of horse racing industry initiatives she has championed during his eight years in office:
- He led the fight to return New York racing to private control, including securing a voting seat on the board for New York Thoroughbreds breeders and New York Thoroughbreds riders.
- Successfully protect the final money for the video lottery that ensures the competitiveness of the New York governor and provides the necessary funding for the public safety of Saratoga Springs
- Supported legislation that created the New York Knights Injury Compensation Fund to make it less expensive for riders to operate in New York
- Supported legislation that will help increase demand for New York-bred stallions
- Legislation was passed to repeal old regulations that limited opportunities for jockeys in New York
- Supported legislation to outlaw the slaughter of racehorses and provide care for them after their racing careers
“Saratoga Race Track hosts the best racing tracks in the world every summer. “Our breeding farms are world-class and produce high-quality horses in high demand – as evidenced by record sales of NY Bred sales in Fasig-Tipton over the past two years,” Woerner said in a statement. “I have always made protecting and expanding New York racing a priority for me and I will continue to do so in the years to come.”
Morey Thompson covered local government and politics for The Post Star For 21 years before retiring in 2017. He continues to pursue regional politics as a freelance writer.
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