Updated on 09/17/2011 6:27PM

Smith says no to NYRA


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Tim Smith, the former commissioner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, will not be taking over as president and chief executive officer of the New York Racing Association, it was announced on Saturday.

Smith, who in July resigned as the NTRA commissioner after a six-year term in order to pursue the NYRA job, issued a vague statement on Saturday as to why he turned down the NYRA post.

"I have the highest regard for the New York Racing Association, the New York Thoroughbred horsemen and breeders, and all those connected with the game in the state," the statement said. "After nearly a month of consideration, however, I've reached the conclusion that I can make a bigger contribution to racing in New York by working on a new business model for the industry than in racetrack operations.''

Chip Tuttle, a spokesman for Smith, said Smith would not comment further on what that model would be.

There is much speculation on what Smith could be working on. One possibility is the idea of taking NYRA private, which would free the NYRA from government regulation. This could also enable a newly formed NYRA to make a run at purchasing New York City Off-Track Betting.

Barry Schwartz, the current chairman and CEO of the NYRA, was looking forward to hiring Smith in part so that he could step down from the day-to-day duties of running the NYRA. Prior to Smith expressing interest in the job, the NYRA had interviewed four people for the job.

"We respect Tim's decision and wish him the best in his new endeavors,'' Schwartz said in a press release.

Schwartz was hoping that Smith would be able to help lobby politicians in Albany to get the NYRA franchise extended. Currently, the franchise is set to expire at the end of 2007.

Last December, the NYRA was indicted for tax fraud and fined $3 million by the federal government for its role in a money-laundering scheme conducted by mutuel tellers. The NYRA escaped criminal prosecution through a deferred prosecution agreement that required the association to submit to a number of stipulations for an 18-month period. The NYRA has been working under a federally appointed monitor since the spring.