08/16/2003 11:00PM

Plan for security organization to be completed by 2004


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The National Thoroughbred Racing Association will complete a business plan for the creation of a national security office by the end of this year, NTRA commissioner Tim Smith said on Sunday after the Jockey Club Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing in Saratoga Springs.

The national security office, part of a series of recommendations to improve racing's national wagering network that were outlined at the Round Table, would be charged with developing and enforcing minimum security standards for all wagering outlets that offer betting on North American races. The NTRA has already retained an executive search firm to recommend a chief executive for the new organization, Smith said.

The NTRA board is scheduled to meet next in early September, Smith said, and will discuss a "mini-plan" for the office at that meeting. The entire business plan, including how the office will be funded and how it will conduct its business, should be complete by the time the board meets in early December, according to Smith.

The recommendation for a national security office was developed by the NTRA in consultation with Giuliani Partners, Ernst and Young, and several NTRA-administered task forces in the wake of last year's Breeders' Cup pick six scandal. The organization and task forces have been conducting analyses of the national wagering network for approximately eight months, since shortly after the Breeders' Cup pick six scandal.

The entire second half of the two-hour, carefully scripted Round Table Conference was devoted to the recommendations, while the first half touched on recent developments at the Jockey Club and the progress of an industry-wide effort to develop uniform medication rules.

Former New York city Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the chairman and chief executive officer of Giuliani Partners, gave the keynote address at the Round Table. Giuliani Partners, which was hired by the NTRA and Jockey Club, among others, at a reported cost of $1 million, is expected to continue to provide consulting duties to the NTRA as it creates the national security office and develops the minimum-security requirements.

Giuliani reiterated in his remarks that a systematic analysis of pick six and pick four wagers in 2002 had not uncovered any fraudulent tickets other than those manipulated by the perpetrators of the pick six scandal. He also endorsed the concept of a national security office and said that minimum security standards were essential to maintaining the integrity of the network.

Giuliani also complimented the racing industry for the way it dealt with the pick six scandal, citing the industry's rapid acknowledgment of the problems and its aggressiveness in dealing with the controversy.

"The way in which the racing industry reacted on Oct. 26 of last year was actually a model of crisis management," Giuliani said. "You did all the right things. The key is confronting the problem, and confronting it realistically, and you did that."

In off-the-cuff comments that were his trademark as mayor of New York City, Giuliani also poked fun at other sports to illustrate the importance of integrity in racing.

"Integrity is at the core of why people bet," Giuliani said. "No one bets on wrestling. But I guess people bet on boxing, so you don't have to have too high a standard."

Giuliani was preceded in his remarks by Alan Marzelli, the chairman of the Jockey Club, which is expected to play a substantial role in developing the technology that would be used by the national security organization. Much of Marzelli's presentation was a pre-produced video that demonstrated the capabilities of a new software application developed by the Jockey Club for racing offices. The software allows racing secretaries to have access to a Jockey Club database of past performances and pedigree information, while also allowing racing secretaries the ability to query horse populations for eligibility for races.

Marzelli pointed to the capabilities of the software as an example for what racing can do if it uses a centralized database to track its wagers. The program was developed in consultation with racetracks, Marzelli said.

In other remarks, Jim Quinn, a public handicapper who was a member of one of the NTRA task forces, said surveys of players conducted after the pick six scandal revealed that most racing fans had not suffered a loss of confidence in racing because of the breach. But he said the racing fans expected the racing industry to spare no expense in fixing the problems.

"The players are unsympathetic to the costs," Quinn said.