10/18/2012 5:19PM

Cuomo names Cornell president to chair new New York Racing Association board

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday afternoon appointed David Skorton, president of Cornell University, to chair a newly constituted board of directors at the New York Racing Association.

Skorton is a cardiologist, professor of biomedical engineering, and a professor in the Weill Cornell Medical College’s Department of Medicine and Pediatrics. Cornell is the home to a leading equine hospital, and the university formerly conducted drug-testing on behalf of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

“Horse racing is an integral part of our state’s culture and economy, and I am honored to be joining the talented members of the New York Racing Association Reorganization Board to improve the industry for the horses, jockeys, backstretch workers, horse owners, and bettors and all who enjoy racing and make it happen,” Skorton said in a press release distributed by the governor’s office.

Along with Skorton, Cuomo also appointed seven other members to the board, plus a “special adviser” for Saratoga. The state’s Senate also announced its two appointments as did the Assembly. Of the 13 appointments, five were members of NYRA’s previous board.

One of the board’s first duties will be to conduct a “national search” for a chief executive and a general counsel, the release said. NYRA’s former chief executive, Charles Hayward, and its former general counsel, Patrick Kehoe, were fired earlier this year.

Cuomo’s other appointees are Bobby Flay, the celebrity chef and horse owner; Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival; Leonard Riggio, chairman of Barnes and Noble; Anthony Bonomo, chief executive of Administrators for the Professions and the founder of Brooklyn Boyz Stable; Vincent Tese, executive chairman of Bond Street Holdings; Joseph Spinelli, managing director of Navigant; and Robert Megna, the state’s budget director. John Hendrickson, the breeding and racing manager of Marylou Whitney Stables, founded by his wife, will serve as the special adviser for Saratoga.

The Senate appointed Michael Dubb, founder of Beechwood Organization and a horse owner; and Earle Mack, an owner-breeder who is the senior partner of the Mack Company. The Assembly appointed Michael J. DelGuidice, chairman of Rockland Capital Energy Investments; and Rick Cotton, executive vice president of NBCUniversal.

Riggio, Bonomo, Hendrickson, Dubb, and DelGuidice were all members of NYRA’s previous 25-member board, which is being dissolved to make way for the new 17-member board as part of an effort by Cuomo to exert more influence over NYRA’s operations. The board was created by legislation passed earlier this year.

According to officials who have knowledge of the list NYRA submitted to the governor, NYRA’s five appointments, which have yet to be announced, are Steven Duncker, the board’s former chairman; Stuart Janney III, the owner-breeder; Stuart Subotnick, a horse owner who is a media executive; Charles Wait, a bank executive from Saratoga Springs; and Barry Ostrager, president of New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. and the owner of Questroyal Stud in New York. All five were members of the previous board.