12/04/2003 12:00AM

NTRA says it will appoint security chief by year-end


The National Thoroughbred Racing Association will hire a chief security officer by the end of the year, NTRA officials said Thursday after a board meeting in New York.

The chief security officer would head a new department at the NTRA that would develop minimum security standards for wagering outlets in North America. The NTRA has narrowed a list of candidates for the position to three and will make the final selection within the "next two or three weeks," according to Tim Smith, the NTRA's chief executive.

Smith declined to identify the candidates, but he said the list was based on hiring "a true cyber-security expert who could work with existing parimutuel experts and regulators."

The appointment of the security officer and the creation of a security department at the NTRA were recommendations of several consultants and task forces that were set up in the wake of last year's Breeders' Cup pick six scandal. The security department is expected to develop the minimum security standards and work with state regulators and racetracks in adopting the requirements.

The minimum security requirements have been informally drafted, Smith said, but the permanent standards will not be developed or released until the chief security officer is hired. Smith said the NTRA has budgeted $250,000 so far to start up the department, but further financial details will be worked out in 2004.

At Thursday's meeting, the NTRA board approved a budget of $66.3 million for the NTRA in 2004, including purses associated with the Breeders' Cup. The NTRA merged with the Breeders' Cup in 2001.

The NTRA announced after the meeting that its 2004 television schedule will include five two-hour programs on ABC or ESPN during the summer and early fall that would package as many as six stakes races each. Smith characterized the new shows as expanding the summer broadcast schedule from four hours of broadcast time in 2003 to 10 hours next year.

The two-hour programs - one each month from June to October - will likely include promotion of a national pick four wager linking races during the live broadcasts, Smith said. Additionally, many of the races will receive purse boosts from Breeders' Cup funds that will total at least $1 million and possibly as much as $2 million, Smith said.

The two-hour programs were developed in consultation with the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, which has been advocating an expansion of racing broadcasts through an owner-led proposal called the Thoroughbred Championship Tour.

Smith said the new broadcasts will allow the NTRA to work with owners toward the goals of the TCT in future years. The tour envisions a league-type format that would require owners to commit to designated races in exchange for year-end bonuses.