07/16/2012 5:05PM

New NYRA board timetable uncertain


Nearly eight weeks after the New York Racing Association and Gov. Andrew Cuomo reached an agreement to dissolve the association’s current board of directors in favor of a board controlled by state politicians, it remains unclear when state officials will seek to replace the current NYRA board.

Officials in the Cuomo administration did not respond on Monday to requests for comment on when Cuomo would make his appointments to the board, the same day that a columnist for the New York Post, citing a “source with direct knowledge of the planned action,” said that Cuomo would pick his eight directors immediately after the close of the Saratoga meet on Sept. 3. The meet opens on Friday.

Given the high profile of the Saratoga meet, it would be logical to assume that Cuomo will wait until the end of the stand to make his picks, in the interests of allowing the meet to proceed without purposeful disruption. Under legislation passed last month, the new board will “become effective” when seven of the 12 state appointments to the board are announced. Cuomo has the power to appoint eight board members, while the leaderships of the state Assembly and Senate each will have the power to appoint two board members.

NYRA’s current board has 25 members, 14 of whom are appointed by NYRA. The other 11 appointments are controlled by the state.

Board members on Monday said that they had not had any communications with Gov. Cuomo’s office about his plans for the board since the agreement was struck to dissolve the current board in late May.

The New York Post column also said that Cuomo planned to fire Ellen McClain, NYRA’s current chief operating officer and the president of the NYRA board. The column, however, called McClain NYRA’s “chief executive officer,” a position at NYRA that remains unfilled since NYRA’s former chief executive, Charles Hayward, was fired in connection with a state report suggesting that Hayward and other NYRA officials were aware that NYRA had applied the wrong takeout rates to many superexotic wagers over a 15-month period in 2010 and 2011.

Board members said they had no knowledge of any plan to fire McClain, who was elevated to president of the board after Hayward’s departure left the position vacant.

Earlier this year, Cuomo said that the new NYRA board would conduct a “nationwide search” to fill the chief executive position.

NYRA chairman Stephen Duncker would not comment on the report, but he released a statement specifically noting that McClain was the association’s “chief operating officer,” not its chief executive.

“[McClain] is an extremely talented executive and the NYRA board of directors is very happy with the job that she has done running the company,” the statement read. “We are immediately focused on maintaining the terrific success that we have had at Saratoga Race Course.”

peter k More than 1 year ago
The politicos are going to take out the vlts and install slots .By doing so they do not have to give any money to the horsemen . This way, the politicos, who dont know a horse from a goat, wont have to try and run a racetrack and sit back ,do nothing and collect money .
[removed] More than 1 year ago
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mikey More than 1 year ago
Who better to run a loosing business than a state agency.Watching bad racing is a thing of the future.Big purses small field's and poor quality is the way the game is headed.I have played for 50 year's and have never had less interest .Racing has come down to he triple crown and breeder's cup 5 good day's of racing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pleae Consider interviewing and making an offer to Mr William Nader to run NYRA as the next president. In case you don't know he is in 1/2 around the world at a very successful race track. RD
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
The Phipps family especially Denny did a big dis-service to NYRA. They started the down swing. Maybe the state can do better, because the "good ole boy" network is now over their head. The biggest issue is getting a person who undestand both sides of racing. You can't offer 4 and 5 and 6 horse fields and expect success. You still must cater to the consumer, they are the one who keeps you in business. A thought lost on the current NYRA leaders.
Frank More than 1 year ago
True it is broke -- but Govt is not the fix. Careful what you wish for...
Carl Fratello More than 1 year ago
NYRA and New York Racing are in Trouble. Cuomo and the Legislature are taking over the NYRA Board for 3 years. Within that timeframe They want a statewide referendum in 2013 to approve casino gambling in the state SPECIFICALLY FOR MANHATTAN AND NEW YORK CITY. If Approved the powerful real estate and gambling interests that figure to be rewarded will finance Cuomo's run for The White House in 2016. If the referendum passes NYRA'S connection to the racino At Aqueduct will be under legislative Review when Cuomo controls NYRA. Horse racing for the past decade and the foreseeable future cannot stand on it's own. The future is Casino Gambling and SPORTS BETTING AS NEW JERSEY WILL CHALLENGE THE FEDS. The NY Oversight Board Overseeing NYRA in its report told NYRA to become leaner and stop relying on VLTS. This is a plan to force racing out by a state that helped put New York racing in its coffin with year round racing and the political connections to the state OTBS. The Result may be a bright spot for racing in this cloudy picture. Less RACING, SEASONAL RACING downstate and a Showcase SARATOGA MEET which is the envy of the racing world. And we can finally say goodbye to the 4th at Aqueduct on Thursday January 22nd where there are more seagulls in the Aqueduct Clubhouse than Patrons Thank You. Carl J
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Carl is right on the mark... Squeezing the lemon too hard has NEVER worked. Be very mindful though when they start talks about 'gaming revenue'. Racing deserves a cut, a fair cut. If left up to Trump, Wynn and the like Racing won't receive a dime.
Frank More than 1 year ago
Amen Carl...Anyone that still believes in the purity of the sport will agree we need less racing (less tracks), breeding, seasonal racing (yes bye-bye AQU -- simulcast GP in winter) and showcase the horses. Greedy politicians and corrupt business men are whats wrong. Racing fans bet it and get it.
nybredfilly96 More than 1 year ago
Well said Carl! You mean you wont miss 'betting' the 4-5 fields with even $ and 2-5 faves? Honorable mention to the seaguls was great :)
Aniello Napolitano More than 1 year ago
Gov. Cuomo, if you do just one thing right by NYRA, please do not even consider removing Ellen McClain from her post. NY racing needs more like her. Please do the right thing; allow this sport one last fighting chance.
nybredfilly96 More than 1 year ago
Oh no you can't mean that? The woman knows nothing about Racing, no background in the industry whatsoever and what has she done that is so great? She doesn't deserve to hold that position, if anything it's the one move Cuomo is getting right.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Now that NYRA has value the state can sell it. The gov is only going to put some flunkies who helped get him elected.They will know as much about horse racing as a rock.Racing is going down the toilet and NYRA will be the one to pull the chain.
peter k More than 1 year ago
Does anyone out there read the articles from drf correspondent Matt Hegarty ? If not suggest one does and then you will see the real intentions of the corrupt politicos of this administration . Essentially without re-typing volumes of posts before, say goodbye to racing in NY
Frank More than 1 year ago
man what a catch 22. Our choices are the current corrupt good ole boy NYRA officials or also just as corrupt, lying, cheating govt. -- WTF does NY care about horse racing anymore?