New York Seizes Control of Horse Racing Tracks

PHOTO: "Ill Have Another" at the finish line in the running of 137th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore MD May 19, 2012.
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With the Belmont Stakes -- and a potential Triple Crown victory for I'll Have Another – just weeks away, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that the state will seize control of the scandal-plagued organization that operates the Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga racetracks.

Under the terms of a deal completed Tuesday morning, a 17-member "turn-around" board will run the New York Racing Association for the next three years. The board will include elected members of the state legislature, appointees chosen by the governor and representatives of the NYRA and the horseracing industry.

"As the upcoming Belmont Stakes shows, the racing industry is a vital part of New York State's culture and economy, attracting millions of dollars in tourism revenue from across the nation and supporting thousands of jobs," Governor Cuomo said. "New Yorkers can be assured that the NYRA Reorganization Board will act in the interests of the members of the public who enjoy horse racing, the taxpayers who support it, and the horses themselves, to make racing in our state the strongest, safest and most enjoyable in the country."

The president and general counsel of the NYRA, a private agency, were fired recently after state regulators alleged that they knew the NYRA had shortchanged bettors by $8.5 million over 15 months. The NYRA appointed a new president on May 14. The overhaul announced today was approved by directors of the NYRA.

"The NYRA Reorganization Board will help ensure that racing in New York has a strong and stable future as the gaming and racing industry evolves," said NYRA Board Chair Steven Duncker. "I thank the members of the current NYRA Board for supporting the changes announced today and together we will work to ensure a smooth transition and bright future for New York racing."

The NYRA has a franchise to operate the state's three major tracks through 2033.

The announcement comes less than three weeks before Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another tries to become the first horse in 34 years to win all three legs of the Triple Crown. The Belmont Stakes are expected to draw more than 100,000 horseracing fans on June 9 to Belmont racetrack on Long Island.

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