Rise and Shine: July 11, 2019

Good morning, CivMixers! Welcome to Thursday.

It’s a big day in the Capital Region, as the meet kicks off at the Saratoga Race Course. This is the true start of summer for thoroughbred race fans. Gates open at 11 a.m., and the first post is at 1 p.m.

There are two stakes races today, including the $150,000 Grade 3 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies.

All season pass and season ticket holders in attendance will receive an exclusive giveaway: a white cooling towel featuring the red Saratoga logo.

As mentioned in earlier posts, this year’s meet will be more than seven weeks long – running through Sept. 2, which is longer than any other meeting Saratoga history. However, racing will only occur five days a week, which keeps the 40-day schedule in tact. Both Mondays and Tuesdays will be dark at the track this year.

A total of $20.85 million will be won in Saratoga’s 76 stakes races this year. Sixteen races are worth more than $500,000 each.

More than a million people went to the historic track in the summer of 2018, an average of 28,104 people each day.

It has been a difficult year for horse racing, due to, among other things, the death of 30 horses during the Santa Anita Park meet. So all eyes will be on Saratoga, with an expectation that it can hit the reset button for the racing community.

A number of changes have been made at the track. From an infrastructure standpoint, the most significant is the addition of the 863 Club, a three-story, climate-controlled, state-of-the-art building featuring differentiated hospitality options and modern amenities.

Tomorrow, track goers will be treated to an appearance by National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and legendary New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. This comes one week before he’s scheduled to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

NYRA will honor Rivera with a special ceremony in the Winner’s Circle in recognition of the all-time Major League Baseball saves leader.

If you’re headed to the track today, be prepared to possibly get wet. The forecast is calling for isolated thunderstorms in the morning, becoming more widespread in the afternoon. Temperatures will be in the low 80s, according to The Weather Channel.

There’s rain and high humidity in the forecast for the rest of the region, too.

Also, the changes haven’t been confined to the track itself. If you’re one of the tens of thousands who visit the Spa City only between late July and Labor Day, you might notice that one of your favorite spots is closed and a new restaurant has opened in its place.

Let’s get to those headlines…

Nationwide raids to arrest thousands of members of undocumented families are scheduled to begin Sunday, though the final details remain in flux. The operation, backed by President Trump, had been postponed, partly due to resistance among officials at his own immigration agency.

As a Level 3 sex offender, convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein should have checked in with the NYPD every 90 days, but in the eight-plus years since a Manhattan judge ordered him to do so, he never did.

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta defended his handling of the sex crimes prosecution of Epstein in Florida more than a decade ago, bucking a growing chorus of Democratic resignation calls while effectively making the case to Trump to keep his job.

New York’s Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez continued her war of words with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last night, calling the California lawmaker “outright disrespectful” for criticizing women of color.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz questioned the constitutionality of the new Green Light law that lets undocumented immigrants get New York driver’s licenses and stressing the “necessity of ensuring non-citizens are prevented from voting.”

“Ultimately I do not believe this law benefits the people of Erie County and I cannot support it,” Poloncarz said. His statement came on the heels of Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns’s lawsuit seeking an injunction to bar the state from enacting the new law.

A bill that could help requalify dozens of invalidated ballots in the Queens DA Democratic primary awaits action by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The measure is intended to make it more difficult to invalidate affidavit ballots, as long as the voter “substantially complied” with election law. It’s unclear if Cuomo will sign.

California Sen. Kamala Harris, a 2020 Democratic contender, held a fundraiser in Brooklyn yesterday.

State Attorney General Letitia James visited Utica to announce $9 million in grants for 48 municipalities across New York. The grants are designed to help communities address their vacant properties – AKA zombie homes – and create affordable housing.

Dozens of families opposed to the new vaccine law in New York are taking the state to court.

A New Jersey-based developer will invest at least $30 million to redevelop 1 Monument Square in Troy with a mixed-use project of retail, apartments and offices that will reflect downtown’s architecture – the city’s fifth attempt to fill in the hole created when City Hall was razed in 2011.

Do you know where the dirtbikes hide in the city of Albany? If so, the city wants to know and is willing to pony up cash to find out.

An Albany woman whose son was shot and killed last year is suing the city and the police $4 million for removing a memorial to her son, Dalon Blunt, about a month after he died.

A 77-unit apartment development is being proposed for North Pearl Street and Broadway in Albany’s warehouse district, next to the Lost and Found bar.

The teenage rape suspect a New Jersey judge let off easy because he comes from “a good family,” was a student at Syracuse University — until just recently.

SU said in a statement: “The individual in question is no longer a student at Syracuse University. Syracuse University does not tolerate sexual and relationship violence of any kind, including incidents that occur off campus.”

The debate over whether Troy should become a Sanctuary City could come to a head tonight. A “Resolution Affirming the City of Troy as a Sanctuary City” has been renamed the FACT Act, or “Resolution of Families and Communities Together,” is up for a vote at the Council meeting.

The ValleyCats manager, Ozney Guillen, was suspended for two games – a disciplinary measure after he cursed at an umpire last month.

After eight years, the past six under the current owners, Capital City Gastropub on New Scotland Avenue in Albany will be closing after business on Sunday. No reason has been given for this decision.

Today’s Alive at Five concert will be at the rain site — the Corning Preserve Boat Launch at Water and Colonie streets under the I787 overpass. (It’s Reggae Night, featuring music from Reggae legends Culture and Capital Region favorites Jo Jo Romero & NightShift).

Capital Region residents who have made their way through the latest season of “Stranger Things” may have noticed a familiar face in the finale. Gabriella or “Gabby “Pizzolo of Niskayuna appears as Suzie, a smart and nerdy teen.

A pair of personal trainers from Manhattan recently broke the record for climbing all 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks in just under seven days. Michael Jock, 30, and Lukas Wear, 28, broke the record for the fastest known unsupported through-hike of the peaks.

Jim Bouton, a pitcher of modest achievement but a celebrated iconoclast who left a lasting mark on baseball as the author of “Ball Four,” a raunchy, shrewd, irreverent — and best-selling — player’s diary that tainted the game’s wholesome image, died at his home in the Berkshires in Massachusetts at the age of 80.

Actor Robert De Niro and his son, Raphael, are members of a group of investors that is buying a five-acre parcel in Astoria, Queens, with plans to build a sprawling production and film studio. They hope to grab a piece of the surging TV and movie business that is turning New York City, once the film capital of the world, into a new Hollywood.

Photo credit: NYRA.

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