Sid Fernando + Observations

Saw Jim Gagliano and Eric Hamelback on the same day at Saratoga


You can sit on a bench between the paddock and the grandstand at Saratoga and observe a lot. That’s where I was last Wednesday morning before the races, sitting with Frances J. Karon, editor of North American Trainer magazine, when we saw owner Peter Brant, daughter in tow, walking back and forth about a dozen times. Not kidding. “There’s Peter Brant again,” I said to Frances after the sixth time, and that became a meme for us throughout the day. “Look, he’s over there,” she said, another time. In between Peter Brant sightings, we’d met Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, and Jim Gagliano, president of the Jockey Club. Eric was with some friends, a couple from Ocala, and Jim was with his wife, Rozie, and three kids. We enjoyed speaking to both parties.

Eric Hamelback and Jim Gagliano are two of the nicest people in racing. But they sit on opposite sides of the fence of the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017. The former represents the interests of smaller owners and trainers while the latter represents the bigger folks in the game, people like, say, Peter Brant. Saratoga is about the Peter Brants of racing, but not so a track like, say, Fairmount Park, where racing is just as important to its participants. How great would it be if Eric Hamelback and Jim Gagliano saw eye to eye?

I bring up all this because I’d recently written an editorial for Frances for her magazine about the…wait for it…Horseracing Integrity Act. The timing of meeting Eric and Jim on the same day couldn’t have been more prophetic. The print edition of Trainer is not out yet, but here’s a sneak preview of my editorial. Click this link to read.