10/05/2003 11:00PM

NYRA seeks federal intent

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ELMONT, N.Y. - The two new co-chief operating officers of the New York Racing Association said on Monday that the organization cannot move forward on any projects or improvements to its facilities until the federal government decides whether it will take action against NYRA. The association faces indictments in connection with the convictions of 19 mutuel clerks for tax evasion and money-laundering.

Steven Duncker and Peter Karches, who were appointed as COO's on Sept. 29 as part of a management reorganization that included the resignation of the track's president, Terry Meyocks, met with about 50 horsemen Monday morning at Belmont Park. Duncker and Karches told the horsemen that they have gotten "no feedback" from federal officials yet.

"We need to know where we stand," Karches said.

Duncker said that the Aqueduct meet will open as scheduled on Oct. 29, though patrons will be somewhat inconvenienced because the construction of a casino there was halted two months ago because of the possibility of indictments.

Before the stoppage, Duncker said, the slots construction was on schedule to meet an April 1, 2004, deadline that would automatically extend NYRA's franchise to run Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga to 2013. Currently, the franchise is set to expire in 2007.