08/21/2006 12:00AM

Ex-NYRA chair Dragone dies at 80

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Allan R. Dragone, a former chairman of the New York Racing Association and the owner of December Hill Farm in Kentucky, died on Sunday morning in a hospice in Stamford, Conn., after a long battle with cancer, according to a statement released by his family. Dragone was 80.

Dragone was active in a number of Thoroughbred industry activities, including the Jockey Club and its racing data company, Equibase. He began retiring from his positions in 2001. He was also a member of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, the Thoroughbred Owners of Florida, and the New York Thoroughbred Breeders.

Dragone was chairman of NYRA from 1990 to 1995, when he was replaced by Kenny Noe Jr.

"I knew Allan very well, and his strong leadership was an important asset during very important times in Thoroughbred racing in this country, and particularly in New York," said NYRA's current chairman, Steven Duncker, in a statement released by NYRA. "We won't forget his contribution."

Dragone was born in Melrose, Mass., and received a bachelor's degree from Middlebury College and a master's in business administration from Harvard. He served as the president or chairman of a variety of paper, textile, and chemical companies during his business career, including Arcadian Corp., Fiber Industries, Akzo, Burlington Industries, and the Celanese Corp.

Stakes winners campaigned by Dragone included Term Limits, the 2-year-old champion filly in Canada in 1993; Changing Ways, the winner of the Schuylerville Stakes in 1994; Pennine Ridge, the winner of the Jamaica and Hill Ridge handicaps in 1994; and Vergennes, the winner of the Jamaica and the Hollywood Derby in 1998.

Dragone, who had residences in Connecticut and Florida, is survived by his wife of 51 years, Jane, and sons Allan Jr., Peter, and Christopher, and daughters Jennifer and Alyssa.