12/15/2004 12:00AM

State raids NYRA tracks


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Officials from the New York State police and the state attorney general's office raided all three of the New York Racing Association tracks on Wednesday and removed several boxes of records pertaining to entries and weights carried by jockeys.

The officials - armed with search warrants - removed about 20 boxes of entry forms, program proofs, and scale sheets for all races run at NYRA tracks in 2004 from the racing and horsemen's bookkeeper's office and the jockeys' room at Aqueduct. Since NYRA keeps all of its records at Aqueduct, there was nothing to be taken from those offices at Belmont and Saratoga.

Paul Larrabee, a spokesman for Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, declined to comment on the investigation.

The investigation appears to be focusing on weights. All the forms removed from Aqueduct document what weight a jockey was assigned for each race and what weight was actually carried in a race. A scale sheet details the weights carried for each race and the order of finish, and it is transferred at day's end from the jocks' room to the horsemen's bookkeeper to determine how much money each jockey gets for each race.

If the attorney general believes that weights were deliberately falsified, it would be a violation of state law and could be considered a felony for tampering with a sporting event.

NYRA's president, Charlie Hayward, said the search warrants were "very broad. Anything they asked for we gave them."

Hayward also said the attorney general and state police officials "had some interest" in the weight issue.

No formal interviews were conducted, but state officials did ask NYRA's stakes coordinator, Andrew Byrnes, several basic questions about how races were weighted. Byrnes was summoned to Aqueduct on his day off because racing secretary Mike Lakow is on vacation.

"They wanted the weights that we weighted in stakes races in 2004," Byrnes said.

Also, state officials took photographs of condition books.

The raid came one year and four days after the federal government indicted NYRA on conspiracy to commit tax fraud in connection with cash policies in the mutuel rooms. NYRA entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in which it could avoid further prosecution if, among other things, it submitted to the oversight of a federal monitor for 18 months. NYRA will be under the supervision of Getnick and Getnick, the court-appointed monitor, until July 1, 2005.