Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his selections to the New York Racing Association (NYRA) reorganization board on Thursday afternoon. The Daily Racing Form has published the names of the appointed board members as well as the prospective NYRA board appointees.
Reviewing the governmental appointees, it appears the selections made are solid credentialed executives with leadership abilities. Contrary to published reports, there was no ban on keeping an interest in horses as a prerequisite for appointment. This is clear by the appointment of such people as Bobby Flay, Anthony Bonomo, and Michael Dubb. These three gentlemen are the new generation of horse owners; people who have been extremely successful in business who look at racing as an extension of their business success. Each of these three are active owners and participants in racing year round which bodes well for the future of NYRA.
Another appointee who will be an asset moving NYRA forward is John Hendrickson. Mr. Hendrickson, a Saratoga resident, is married to Mary Lou Whitney. Notwithstanding this, Mr. Hendrickson in his own right has taken to racing and the issues especially centered around Saratoga with an immense passion. His presence on the board will ensure Saratoga is not forgotten and well represented in the discussions moving forward.
Do not be misled to think that only racing people were placed on the board….the new president of the Board is also the President of Cornell University. A highly educated and well trained man, I am sure his focus will be on reestablishing integrity within NYRA. Additionally the general counsel to NBC Sports was selected. The chairman of Navigant, a security firm, is on the list as security is a key element of issues moving forward for NYRA.
Governor Cuomo will be represented by the person he has designated as his point person for racing, Robert Megna his budget director. Mr. Megna will be watching these issues with a close eye. He has led the Franchise Oversight Committee and has had a critical view of NYRA recently.
While NYRA has not released its own appointees, rumor has it that one of the names being submitted is C. Steven Dunker. Dunker was the chair during the period when Governor Cuomo determine to disengage the existing 25 person board. He was the person at the head of the organization when questions regarding the failure to make the proper takeout were uncovered. It seems like by allowing NYRA to nominate Duncker, to a certain extent they are keeping the fox in the hen house.
As a racing supporter, my hope is that this reorganization board sets NYRA on a path to success. NY needs racing as evidenced by the economic impact study released this week. As a small owner, I feel that there is a voice on this new board for us. As a lawyer I think that this new group will have an eye on ensuring that the ethical missteps of the past will not be repeated yet again. Here is hoping we in the racing industry will move forward and thrive.