08/18/2005 11:00PM

Round Table spotlight square on New York


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - New York racing's past, present, and future will take center stage at The Jockey Club's annual Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing, held on Sunday at the Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs.

The topic is fitting not only for the location of the Round Table, held annually in Saratoga for the past 52 years, but for the issues surrounding the New York Racing Association and the expiration of its franchise at the end of 2007. Two days after the Round Table, on Tuesday, the U.S attorney's office in Brooklyn is to announce whether NYRA will be indicted on charges related to tax fraud in its mutuel department, a decision that will likely set the course for a pitched battle for NYRA's franchise.

Charles Hayward, the chief executive of NYRA, is scheduled to give a presentation at the Round Table on NYRA's attempts to comply with the deferred-prosecution agreement reached with the U.S. attorney. Hayward is also expected to discuss how NYRA will attempt to move forward if the deferred prosecution is lifted.

Tim Smith, the president of Friends of New York Racing, a racing advocacy group, will also speak at the Round Table, in a presentation that will focus on how racing should be structured to attract bidders for the franchise. In a preliminary report, Friends of New York Racing has already called for slot machines at Belmont Park as well as Aqueduct.

The keynote speaker at the Round Table this year will be Mark Shapiro, the former executive vice president of programming and production for ESPN-TV. This week, Shapiro resigned from ESPN to take a position with an investment company, Red Zone.

Earlier this year, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and its partner, Breeders' Cup, reached an eight-year revenue-sharing agreement that will put the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships on ESPN for the first time beginning in 2006.

An update on the NTRA's activities will be provided by the association's chief executive, D.G. Van Clief, just before Shapiro's address.

Other speakers include Alan Foreman, the chief executive of the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association; Dr. Don Catlin, a founder of the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory; Dan Fick, the executive vice president of The Jockey Club; Jay Hickey, the president of the American Horse Council; Greg Avioli, the executive vice president of the NTRA; and Greg Means, a founding partner of the Alpine Group, a Washington, D.C. lobbying group.