07/19/2007 11:00PM

NYRA asks to retain Getnick law firm


ELMONT, N.Y. - The New York Racing Association has sought permission from a federal bankruptcy court judge to retain the services of Getnick and Getnick, the same firm that was appointed by a federal court three years ago to oversee NYRA's business practices when it was under indictment for conspiracy to commit tax fraud.

The Manhattan-based law firm, headed by Neil Getnick, would be hired as NYRA's business integrity counsel, NYRA president and CEO Charlie Hayward said Friday. It would serve in many capacities for NYRA, including acting as a compliance officer and working on integrity-related issues such as medication and drug testing. NYRA has filed an application with the court, but it was unclear when, or if, it would receive approval.

"We're thrilled with bringing Neil's firm back," Hayward said Friday. "I think he's going to work with us on some very important areas; perhaps the most important is medication and testing issues, which he did quite a lot of work with before.

"In his work this time, he'll be reaching out to the RMTC and to other people and help us make those connections," added Hayward, referring to the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. "The whole regulatory environment, I think that could be beneficial to all of racing in New York."

Hayward said Getnick and Getnick would also fill the role once served by the firm Safir-Rosetti, which left NYRA and is now affiliated with Excelsior Racing Associates, one of four bidders seeking to win the franchise to run racing at Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga.

"[Getnick] will replace some of that oversight functionality, reporting to the Oversight Board, that Safir had, but will also have a much more robust role," Hayward said. "I think he'll also look at broader industry issues."

In March 2004, Getnick and Getnick became NYRA's federal court-appointed monitor in charge of overseeing its business practices and helping institute reforms. In September 2005, the firm issued a glowing report of NYRA that led to the government dropping all charges against the association.