11/04/2004 12:00AM

Hayward appointed to top post at NYRA

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NYRA
Charlie Hayward

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - When Charlie Hayward resigned as president and chief executive officer of Daily Racing Form in August, he thought his future visits to the racetrack would consist of his holding a beer in one hand and a cigar in the other.

On Thursday, Hayward's hands became a lot more full.

Hayward, 54, was appointed president and chief executive officer of the New York Racing Association on Thursday. Hayward replaces Terry Meyocks, who resigned last year as track president in the wake of a scandal that resulted in NYRA being indicted for tax fraud and being fined $3 million. Hayward also assumes the CEO role recently vacated by Barry Schwartz. Schwartz also will step down as chairman of the board at year's end. That position has yet to be filled.

As part of Hayward's hiring, C. Steven Duncker and Peter Karches, who have served as co-chief operating officers, will each relinquish that title and continue to serve as vice chairmen of the NYRA board.

Hayward, who starts immediately, said that his salary would be $370,000 annually. He has a contract through the end of 2007, which is when NYRA's franchise to operate Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga expires. One of Hayward's chief objectives will be to get NYRA's franchise renewed.

A second objective will be to restore NYRA to profitability. The association lost $20 million last year. It is currently operating under a federally appointed monitor, the result of a deferred prosecution agreement reached with the government last December following its indictment for tax fraud. NYRA is operating under the auspices of the monitor, Getnick and Getnick, until July 1, 2005.

Hayward, Karches, and Duncker all noted that Getnick and Getnick has played a significant role in helping NYRA adjust its business practices. According to Duncker, NYRA has cut approximately $14 million in operating expenses this year.

Hayward said that monitor signs posted at Saratoga "had the appearance to the casual person that the monitor was a policeman and impeding the operation. I believe that's quite to the contrary. I believe the monitor has made significant contributions in righting the ship here and improving business practices."

Another facet of Hayward's job will be getting Aqueduct's video-lottery terminal project up and running. The project was stalled in August 2003. According to Duncker, questions regarding the constitutionality of VLT's at racetracks in New York as well as disagreements over revenue splits must be worked out with the state legislature before the project can continue.

Hayward, who served as President and CEO of Daily Racing Form from 2000 until August, became a viable candidate for the NYRA job after Tim Smith, the former commissioner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, withdrew from consideration in September.

Hayward, who was headed for retirement when he left the Form, said several friends told him he would be ideal for the NYRA job.

"NYRA is without question the number one racing circuit in the country," Hayward said. "Secondly, I have had a very successful business career, and I've been a huge racing fan for over 25 years. My experience at the Form has given me insight into the racing business and, as we all know, every racing fan has his or her opinions and complaints, and I just thought it was time to put up or shut up."

Hayward said one of his objectives is to get all facets of the racing industry in the state to work collaboratively.

"I think there are issues of credibility and communication, particularly in Albany, that really have to be overcome," Hayward said. "My experiences are you have to earn your stripes. You can tell people you want to be collaborative, you can tell people you really want to work with them - until you do it they have to really see it."

Hayward also said it is important to him to build relationships with horsemen.

"I think it's important for me to meet these people, build some credibility, open some channels of communication," Hayward said. "I'm really committed to that because the horsemen are very important. I don't want to be seen as just a front-side guy who . . . is just posturing to help NYRA get the franchise."

Before working at the Form, Hayward was the president and CEO of Little Brown Publishing. During his tenure, Little Brown doubled its sales.

Hayward was a NYRA board member from 1995 to 1999, but resigned when he became president and CEO of the Form in 2000. According to Duncker, Hayward will eventually be named to the board of directors.

Duncker declined comment when asked if he was interested in becoming chairman of the NYRA. He said that both he and Karches would remain involved in NYRA at least through the end of the federal monitorship in July.