03/15/2007 11:00PM

Nader leaving NYRA for Hong Kong


William Nader, the senior vice president and chief operating officer of the New York Racing Association, has been hired as the executive director of racing for the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the overseas organization announced on Friday.

Nader, who was in Hong Kong on Friday for the announcement, will start in his new position on April 23. His contract with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which operates the territory's two Thoroughbred tracks and the national lottery, is for a minimum of three years, Nader said.

Nader, 49, is one of the most well-respected racing executives in North America. He is leaving NYRA four months after the association filed for bankruptcy and as it sits in the midst of a complex political struggle to retain its franchise to operate the New York's three largest racetracks. The franchise expires on Dec. 31.

Nader, who had visited Hong Kong in 2000, said in a conference call that his departure from NYRA should not be construed as any lack of confidence in NYRA retaining the franchise.

"If any other racing company had called me saying 'We'd be interested in you working for us' other than the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the answer would have been no," Nader said. "This place is impressive."

Nader started his career 20 years ago at Rockingham Park in New Hampshire. In late 1994, he took a job as director of marketing for NYRA and moved rapidly up the ranks while surviving multiple management shake-ups related to federal and state investigations.

Stephen Duncker, the chairman of NYRA, said that NYRA will search both within and outside the association to replace Nader.

"It's a great opportunity for Bill, and I'm excited for him," Duncker said. "From a NYRA point of view, it's really a feather in our cap, because they did a worldwide search, and they came to NYRA to find the best."

The Hong Kong Jockey Club operates two racetracks, Sha Tin Racecourse and Happy Valley Racecourse, which held 78 days of live racing last year. Each live racing day typically draws approximately $100 million in wagers. The organization also operates a betting service on European soccer matches.

Nader, who is divorced and has three children, said that his two sons will join him in Hong Kong and attend English-speaking schools in the territory. Hong Kong was a British protectorate until its transfer to China in 1997.

Nader said that he has already been given a Chinese name, Lei Dat Yin, which translates as "wisdom, profit, and facilitate," because Chinese newspapers do not print English names.

"A couple of reporters have already said that's a pretty good name," Nader said. "So I guess that's a good sign."