Print this Page Bookmark and Share

NYRA Spotlight

The “NYRA Spotlight Series” videos profile the individuals who work in the jockey’s room, on the backside, in the paddock, on the clockers’ stand, and in numerous other areas at the track. These are the people behind the scenes that ensure thoroughbred racing in New York can take place smoothly on a daily basis.


NYRA Paddock Analyst Maggie Wolfendale discusses how her lifelong horse experience helps her assess horses in the paddock, reporting on their demeanor, conformation and physical appearance.  Trainer Leah Gyarmati explains why Wolfendale's insights are valuable to fans and horseplayers. 



Blacksmiths Fred Sullerberg and Michael Vinas discuss how they became blacksmiths, the equipment they use, and the process of changing shoes on a horse. In addition, trainer Richard Schosberg talks about how blacksmiths can affect a horse’s performance.



Rudy Baffa, 83 years old and still going strong, has worked for NYRA for more than 30 years and is a familiar face – and voice – to patrons and employees at all three NYRA tracks. A nightclub vocalist in his native Brooklyn in the 1960s, the instantly recognizable Baffa sings as he patrols NYRA’s buildings and grounds.



NYRA TV Handicappers Jason Blewitt, Eric Donovan and Andy Serling address the challenges and highlights of their various jobs both on-and-off-air, from handicapping the races in advance to working on NYRA’s in-house television programs and MSG Plus shows, to setting the morning line odds for a race card. 



NYRA has one of the most thorough horse identification procedures of any racing jurisdiction. Chief identifier Reid works with a team of four others - identifiers Carol Dolan and Anthony Jaccino, photographer Diane Connor, and clerk Karen Brady - to ensure that every horse running is exactly who the connections claim it to be.




Clockers record the time and distance of morning workouts for individual horses in training. These times are recorded manually and this information is shared with the betting public.



The role of the stewards is to provide daily supervision and regulation of the racing meet. The stewards are charged with ensuring that the rules of racing are adhered to. They must investigate any potential rule violations, and when necessary, determine the proper penalties.



Get up-close-and-personal with track announcer Tom Durkin and watch him call a race in his booth high atop the grandstand at the Big A. Durkin’s job is to call the races accurately and appropriately, and in this video, Durkin shares some of the tricks of the trade (including a thesaurus, a French-English dictionary and a hand-written list of more than 1,600 adjectives) that have made him the premier race-caller in America.



In the jockeys’ room, the Clerk of Scales and the Assistant Clerk of Scales are the stage managers of daily racing, making sure everything runs smoothly from start to finish. They are responsible for the accuracy of the riding assignments, weight assignments, and silks for each race, as well as keeping the riders on their fast-paced schedule to make sure the races go off at the correct time. Record-keeping, monitoring the health of the jockeys and communicating with other racing departments all figure into their job description as well.