Aug 29 2017

NYRA NOW App Review

In a recent article, I said there is no comparison between experiencing horseracing live at the track and watching it on television. With that said, there are times that we simply can’t make it to the racetrack. For these times, you should be aware of an App called NYRA NOW which is available on multiple platforms in HD format. The two platforms I will discuss in this article are the iPad and Roku.  The screenshots shown below will be from the iPad at the current Saratoga meet.

The NYRA NOW App shows only NY racing (Belmont, Saratoga, Aqueduct) and you must have a NY BETS account to access the app.  Click here for more information from NYRA about the App, including platforms supported.

The following are the main features offered by the NYRA NOW App:

Saratoga Live

This view looks very much like what you would see if you were on track with several extras. For example, there are multiple camera angles you can select. The Roku screen allows only one angle at a time. The iPad screen allows two angles simultaneously. In addition, it includes a list of the horses in the race by name and number. The example below shows a race where you can see both the pan view and the head-on shot at the same time. This is my favorite video feature.

Saratoga Live, pan and head-on views.

Regarding program content, the first five or six races are similar to what you would see at the race track. You get a view of the horses in the paddock, commentary from the track analysts and the odds by number listed at the bottom of the screen. Later in the day, usually around 4 o’clock, you pick up the telecast from network coverage. This includes additional people and constant coverage including analysis of future races, interviews with owners and trainers, educational videos, and discussion about the next race.

Another feature I was pleased to see is post race commentary on all races in the network coverage. For many races there are interviews with trainers and jockeys (sometimes while they are still on the horse returning back to the winner’s circle). This latter feature is provided by Maggie Wolfendale, who is also the paddock analyst, and does many other pre and post race interviews. Maggie and Gabby Gaudet team up for these interviews and they do a fantastic job.

Regarding Maggie Wolfendale, I have recently noticed that she is often on horseback prerace as well. She provides educational information about things like starting gate position,  how a jockey warmed up a horse, equipment information (e.g. blinkers, tongue ties, etc.); all things she obviously knows very well from her long family history in the horse racing business.

Overall I have been impressed with the quality of the coverage and the content of the information provided by all the people in the program. The most impressive thing about this program is the level of enthusiasm by all of the participants. You can really tell they all love the horses, the sport, and the job they are doing to present this information to the public. The subtext in their program is that horse racing is a terrifically exciting sport and can be enjoyed by anyone, especially those who take the time to learn more about the game. Below is a screenshot with some of the people in the program, along with their top selection for an upcoming race.

Saratoga live cast with selections.

Footnote: there is also a Spanish live option available. But, since I don’t speak Spanish I haven’t spent any time watching this feature. I do know there is a live call of each race done in Spanish. I think there might be some pre-race analysis as well, but beyond that I’m not sure what other information is presented in Spanish.

Talking Horses

This program airs about an hour before the races begin.  Two handicappers review the entire days races and offer their commentary and selections. The NYRA NOW app allows you to replay the show at any time during the day. One of the nice features is they have a separate selection for each race so if you want to see and listen to the commentary in one particular race you can go directly to that race instead of having to fast forward or listen to the whole program. Just an FYI, you cannot go back and watch this program for prior days.

With the exception of being Limited to just one camera view, these two features (Saratoga Live and Talking Horses) work well on Roku.  If they are all you are interested in, watching them on a television screen is obviously better than watching on a small iPad screen. However, for the features I will list below, I believe the iPad interface is much easier to use than Roku.

Race Replays

NYRA NOW app provides access to race replays on the New York circuit, including Belmont, Aqueduct, and Saratoga. Replays are available for all races beginning with the Saratoga 2016 meet. Both the pan and head-on views are available. The Roku interface is rather clunky. You have to separately drop down the track, date of the race, and finally the race number. The iPad allows you to swipe using a Calendar from month to month, pick a date, and then shows you a list of the races for that day. From there you can select the race you would like to watch. Below is a screenshot of the iPad interface and the races on Belmont Stakes day 2017.

Race Replay Screen

Video On Demand(VOD)

This feature allows you to play videos that are organized into the following categories:

  • Stakes Replays
  • History of the game
  • Saratoga Walk of Fame
  • Player Profiles
  • Expert Analysis
  • Interviews
  • Exclusive Footage
  • Saratoga live replays

There are hundreds of videos within this feature. So, a search option would be very useful in case you’re looking for a specific thing. For example, if I want to see all videos involving the trainer Steve Asmussen, there is currently no easy way to do that.

I found the Player Profiles and the Interviews to be the most useful segments.  They provide behind the scenes information.  The Exclusive Footage segment has a variety of interviews and other information.  I found a story about farriers, and what they do in their line of work. It was fascinating information, but when I went back to find it again I had no idea where it was.  Once again, a search option would help immensely.

Overall, I find NYRA NOW  to be both entertaining and educational.  I firmly believe it is the combination of these two things that is required to attract and retain horse racing fans.  Congratulations NYRA  on a job well done.


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By Neal Benoit


One comment on “NYRA NOW App Review

  1. Neal, Great review. For those of us who are in a state that doesn’t allow wagering with NYRA Bets, the NYRA Now app still allows us to enjoy racing as it should be seen, in HD. The Saratoga meet has been the best coverage ever provided by a television production company. They are to be commended for showing all tracks just how important enthusiastic and professional coverage is to the sport. The telecast isn’t focused on one aspect of the game, nor does it pander to the viewer who has no interest in handicapping. It certainly helped us satisfy our craving for Saratoga until we could get there for Travers weekend. The Chromecast version can get stuck right before a race, which can be a bit frustrating, but overall it has worked well with our television.

    Shawn and Nancy on

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