Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and the New York Racing Association (NYRA) today announced an agreement to establish the NYRA Reorganization Board that will place NYRA under temporary public control in order to reform the association and transform oversight and management of horse racing in New York State.
"As the upcoming Belmont Stakes shows, the racing industry is a vital part of New York State's culture and economy, attracting millions of dollars in tourism revenue from across the nation and supporting thousands of jobs," Governor Cuomo said. "With the structure of the gaming industry changing here in New York, the state also needs to take a new approach to how it manages and governs racing. New Yorkers can be assured that the NYRA Reorganization Board will act in the interests of the members of the public who enjoy horse racing, the taxpayers who support it, and the horses themselves, to make racing in our state the strongest, safest and most enjoyable in the country."
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said, "The NYRA Reorganization Board will put in place new leadership to ensure that bettors and taxpayers are treated fairly and honestly. We will continue working together with the Governor and NYRA so New York State remains a leading home for horse racing."
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "New York's horse racing industry supports jobs and local economies all across the state. It is important to maintain the integrity of the sport so that those who come out to enjoy these events are not shortchanged or treated unfairly. By working together with the NYRA leadership and the Governor, we will make sure that racing in New York State continues to be a leading economic driver and tourist attraction that is enjoyed by people from across the nation each year."
NYRA Board Chair Steven Duncker said, "I want to express my appreciation to the Governor for his commitment to a world class horse racing industry in New York. The NYRA Reorganization Board will help ensure that racing in New York has a strong and stable future as the gaming and racing industry evolves. I thank the members of the current NYRA Board for supporting the changes announced today and together we will work to ensure a smooth transition and bright future for New York racing."
NYRA Board Member John Hendrickson said, "The bettors, fans, public, and government deserve trust in their racing. This resolution is a necessary first step. I am encouraged that racing will now receive enthusiastic commitments from Albany. Governor Cuomo is to be commended for his vocal support of racing, and for bringing all parties together for a positive resolution."
Barry Ostrager, President of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, said "It is a great comfort to the New York thoroughbred breeders to know that Governor Cuomo has reaffirmed the State's commitment to support the New York breeding program and to protect and expand the number of jobs that have recently been created by our revivified industry."
NYRA Board Member and New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association President Rick Violette Jr. said,"The New York Racing Association today announced the reconfiguration of their Board of Directors. We are excited we have a Governor who has announced he will champion our industry. New York's Thoroughbred horsemen are willing to work hand in hand with the new Board and the Governor's office to ensure we have a robust industry that continues to provide the very best racing in the country."
Todd L. Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, said, "The Historic Saratoga Race Course is a leading economic driver with an annual economic impact to the region of more than $200 million bringing visitors from across the globe to our communities. In 2012, we look forward to again hosting the best horses, the best jockeys, the best owners and hundreds of thousands of visitors and families in Saratoga and to celebrating 150 years of racing in Saratoga in 2013. We applaud Governor Cuomo for taking the lead in reforming NYRA so our bettors and members of the public can have their confidence restored in the racing industry for years to come."
The NYRA Reorganization Board will be comprised of a majority of publicly appointed directors, with a Chair nominated by the Governor. The Board will be in effect for 3 years to restructure and reorganize NYRA, following which NYRA will revert back to majority private control. The current NYRA Board will be dissolved. The NYRA Reorganization Board will go into effect when a majority of the new public directors are appointed. Once appointed, the new board will conduct a national search for a new CEO and General Counsel for NYRA.
The NYRA Reorganization Board will consist of 17 directors. Seven will be appointed by the Governor. The Senate and Assembly will appoint two directors each and five directors will be selected by the current NYRA Board. Breeders and Horsemen will each have an ex officio member. Additionally, a chairperson will be nominated by the Governor subject to Board approval. The current board is 25 directors, with 14 elected by NYRA and 11 appointed by public officials.
The agreement will require legislation to implement which both leaders have agreed to support.
NYRA is a not-for-profit corporation that is responsible for the operation of the three largest horse-racing tracks in New York: Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park, Queens; Belmont Park in Elmont, Long Island; and Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs.