12/09/2005 12:00AM

Karches resigns NYRA job

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Peter Karches has resigned from his position as co-chairman of the New York Racing Association, citing personal reasons. He will remain a member of NYRA's board of trustees.

Karches, who turns 54 on Dec. 16, officially resigned at Wednesday's NYRA board of trustees meeting in Manhattan, writing in a letter that "I regret having to abandon my role at this crucial time, but I have no choice."

Karches declined to elaborate when reached by phone Friday afternoon, but did say it had nothing to do with any NYRA-related issues, such as the possibility that the association will declare bankruptcy by year's end.

Steven Duncker, who also served as co-chairman, will now take over as sole chairman, Bill Nader, NYRA's senior vice president, confirmed.

Karches served as NYRA's co-chairman for two years. During that time, Karches helped implement reforms that enabled NYRA to avoid prosecution from the federal government after it was indicted for fraud in December 2003. A federal district court judge dismissed the indictment earlier this year, following a positive report issued by the firm Getnick and Getnick, which monitored NYRA's business practices for 18 months.

"Peter's daily hands-on involvement, his tremendous integrity, and incredible business sense helped NYRA emerge successfully from the federal indictment," Duncker said in a press release.

Karches was the driving force behind NYRA's implementation of a security barn at its three racetracks - Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga. Since May, horses racing at NYRA have been required to report to a security barn five to six hours before they race.

Karches has owned many Thoroughbreds himself, including the multiple stakes winner Dynever, who finished third in the 2003 Breeders' Cup Classic.

In an unrelated development, George Steinbrenner was forced to resign from NYRA's board of trustees earlier this year. Steinbrenner turned 75 on July 4, and there is an age-limit provision for being on the board.