03/23/2004 12:00AM

Horsemen back N.Y. bill

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The president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association said Tuesday that the organization would support a bill raising the takeout on bets at the New York Racing Association if it meant getting other legislation supported by horsemen passed.

Richard Bomze, the president of the horsemen's group, said members had played a role in devising one of two pieces of legislation introduced recently by Sen. William Larkin, the chairman of the State Senate's Racing and Wagering Committee. One of the bills would raise the takeout on NYRA races, and the other would open up NYRA's operations to outside scrutiny and give the horsemen's association a seat on the board of directors.

"I personally agree with [NYRA chairman] Barry Schwartz that lowering the takeout in the long run increases handle," Bomze said. "But whether that's right or wrong, we need NYRA to operate in the open. That is so important to us."

An official for Larkin's office, Steve Casscles, said the takeout bill was designed to raise money for NYRA, its horsemen, the OTB's, and the state. NYRA and the OTB's contribute from their profits to the state and local governments.