Cuomo Wants NYRA Re-Privatization

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (l.) has proposed returning the New York Racing Association to private hands. He does, however, plan to retain enough control of the agency to step in if it runs into financial difficulties of the kind that triggered a state takeover back in 2012.

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to return the New York Racing Association to private control under a plan that will see Albany still exercising considerable influence over its operations

The plan, unveiled as part of the governor’s 2017 budget, would dilute some of the appointment power his office has held over the association since it came under state control in the midst of mounting financial troubles in 2012.

Cuomo proposes cutting NYRA’s current 17-member board to 15 members: six appointed by the governor, including the chairman, who can be replaced at any time at his discretion; eight selected by the association’s current executive committee; and NYRA‘s president filling the final spot.

The new board also would include two non-voting members: a representative of New York Breeders Inc. and a representative from the horsemen‘s group at NYRA tracks.

The plan expands the powers of the Franchise Oversight Board that currently reviews NYRA’s operating budget and approves its capital budget. The panel will be able to impound NYRA funds and commission an outside financial advisor and order other “corrective” actions if it deems there are “significant” risks to the association’s finances.

Payments will continue from Aqueduct Racetrack’s casino revenues to help fund various racing-related programs, including NYRA’s budget and purse accounts. But the state would stop paying costs associated with equine drug testing, which Cuomo’s office says will save $4.5 million.

The plan would also permit nighttime racing at Belmont Park in New York City.

The proposals came after the state Senate Racing and Wagering Committee took testimony from officials from groups representing breeders and horsemen.

In a statement NYRA President Chris Kay said his board supports the plan.

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