06/08/2016 11:15AM

Hendrickson resigns from NYRA advisory role


John Hendrickson, the husband of the prominent Thoroughbred owner and breeder Marylou Whitney, has resigned his position as an adviser for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the New York Racing Association’s board of directors, according to a horse-racing advocacy group based in Saratoga Springs.

Hendrickson’s resignation comes at a time when the New York legislature is considering bills that would return control of the board to NYRA, four years after Cuomo engineered a state takeover of the panel. Hendrickson was appointed to the non-voting position in 2012 as a result of the takeover.

The group that announced the resignation, the Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing, repeated in a statement issued Tuesday that Cuomo, as part of a plan to reorganize the association’s board of directors, has advanced a proposal that would claw back a portion of the subsidies that NYRA receives from slot machines at a casino located adjacent to the association’s Aqueduct racetrack in Queens.

“Mr. Hendrickson has vehemently expressed his stance that any capping or manipulation of [slot-machine] money owed to NYRA is unsatisfactory,” the statement said.

Cuomo has not made any public statement about his plans for legislation to reorganize the board. A spokesman on Wednesday did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the statement of his support for the clawback, although the office did release a statement on Hendrickson’s resignation.

“We thank Mr. Hendrickson for his service and wish him well,” the statement from spokesman Rich Azzopardi said. “The governor and the legislature saved NYRA from yet another bankruptcy in 2012 and installed a board and management team that, by every metric, has been a success. We seek to continue this progress.”

Over the last two weeks, the state Senate’s and the Assembly’s racing and gambling committees have advanced identical bills that would give NYRA eight appointments to a reconstituted 15-member board. The bills give the governor two appointments.

The Senate bill is being sponsored by Sen. John Bonacic, the chairman of the Senate Racing, Wagering, and Gaming Committee. Conor Gillis, Bonacic’s press secretary, said in a statement Wednesday that the senator “is hopeful that agreement will be reached on legislation to privatize the New York Racing Association.”