Legislators Urge Cuomo To Privatize NYRA

by | 07.27.2015 | 4:40pm

Thirteen members of the New York State Legislature have written to Gov. Andrew Cuomo with their concerns about the long-term future of horse racing in the state and to urge the governor to transition the New York Racing Association from its current Reorganization Board back to a nonprofit association.

“We are writing to you about an issue of importance for the future of horse racing in New York State, as well as for Saratoga Springs and the Capital Region,” states the letter signed by six state Senators and seven members of the Assembly. Among the signees are Republican John J. Bonacic, chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, and Democrat J. Gary Pretlow, who chairs the Assembly Committee on Gaming and Wagering.

“In 2012, the New York Racing Associaiton Reorganization Board was established for a three-year period,” the letter continues. “The 2015-16 State Budget extended the maximum term of this Board for an additional year.

“However, we feel it is important to move as quickly as possible to transition back to a nonprofit racing association. The Reorganization Board has done a good job and served its purpose, but the continuation of this temporary board is now raising serious concerns about its ability to make the necessary long-term decisions and planning that are essential for the continued success and stability of the horse racing industry.

“In particular, we are very concerned about the potential negative impact on Saratoga Race Course, which is the crown jewel of racing and an essential part of the local community. As an example of the local concerns being expressed, please see the enclosed resolution by the Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing, as well as an editorial by a local newspaper.

“We urge your attention to this matter, and request that actions be taken now to ensure that thoroughbred racing operations are returned to a revitalized NYRA as soon as possible. We look forward to working with you on this matter and other initiatives to maintain and improve New York's horse racing industry.”

The July 23 letter was signed by, in addition to Bonacic and Pretlow; Senators Hugh T. Farley; Kathleen A. Marchione; George A. Amedore Jr.; Neil D. Breslin; Elizabeth O'C.Little; and Assembly members Carrie Woerner; Patricia A. Fahy; John T. McDonald III; Angelo Santabarbara; Daniel Stec; and James N. Tedisco.

The Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing, organized by the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, includes local business people (hotel and restaurant owners, bankers, Realtors, CPA's), horse owners, trainers, breeders, and veterinarians. Among its members is Charles Wait, CEO of Saratoga-headquartered Adirondack Trust Company. Wait, a longtime NYRA trustee who resigned from the Reorganization Board in April, told Albany Business Review that Cuomo “reneged on his promise” to reprivatize NYRA. “There's fear that the state may try to re-privatize it as a for-profit group and then sell it,” Wait said. “It's very important that doesn't happen.”

Here is the resolution adopted by the Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing calling for the privatization of NYRA as a non-profit organization by the end of 2015.

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