Cuomo takes reins of NYRA | News
ALBANY- NYRA Trustee John Hendrickson said Tuesday that he fully supports the State's takeover of the franchise, after decades of legal and financial problems.
"I think this is a good day for racing. There's been an adversarial relationship, the dark chapter is over and I think the bettors and fans are going to be the beneficiaries because of the Governor's leadership," he said.
NYRA's CEO and General Counsel were recently fired, after state investigators found the organization cheated bettors out of 8.5-million-dollars.
"I think it's really important because for the 20 years I've been associated with New York Racing, we've never had a true working partnership with the State of New York," said Charles Wait, a trustee who also heads Adirondack Trust.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said the State will transform and oversee NYRA's board and management of New York's Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga race tracks for three years.
"We can reorganize. We can restructure. We can find out what works best. But then turn it back to private sector control and let government do the job as the regulator, the overseer but not the day to day operator," Cuomo said during a news conference.
The deal creates a smaller, reorganized board of trustees, shrinking from 25 to 17 directors. The chairman would be nominated by the Governor, who will also appoint seven directors. The current NYRA board would only choose five. The Senate and Assembly would appoint two directors each.
Breeders and horsemen will hold non-voting seats.
"Saratoga will be better and better and better. And next year we celebrate the 150-th anniversary of racing in Saratoga," said Wait.
The reorganized board will conduct a national search for a new CEO and general counsel for NYRA.
It's unclear if recently appointed CEO Ellen McClain would keep her job..
The entire plan is expected to be approved by the legislature sometime in June.
This also comes at a time when the horseracing industry is getting ready for the Belmont Stakes and a chance to see a Triple Crown winner.