New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver and officials from the New York Racing Association (NYRA) have entered into an agreement which will see the NYRA Board reconstituted and control turned over to the state for a period of at least three years "in order to reform the organization and transform oversight and management of horse racing in New York State," it was announced Tuesday morning.
The so-called NYRA Reorganization Board will consist of 17 directors, of which seven will be appointed by the governor. The Senate and Assembly will have two appointments each, while five directors will be elected by the NYRA Board. Breeders and horsemen will have ex-officio, or non-voting, members. Governor Cuomo will nominate the Chairman of the Reorganization Board, which will exist for three years following which NYRA will revert back to majority private control.
The current NYRA board, which consists of 25 members--the majority (14) elected by NYRA--will be dissolved. The new board will also be charged with conducting a national search for executive leadership.
NYRA has come under scrutiny of late for a spate of breakdowns during the winter meeting at Aqueduct and recent allegations that high-ranking officials were aware of a failure to lower takeout on certain wagers which resulted in the overcharging of its customers.
"As the upcoming Belmont S. 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 in a release. "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."
Added C. Steven Duncker, NYRA's current Chairman of the Board, "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."
Rick Violette Jr., a NYRA Board member and president of the NY Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, pledged that organization's commitment to and support of the governor and the Reorganization Board.