THE BLOG
06/21/2012 10:32 am ET | Updated Aug 21, 2012

New York Horsemen and Breeders Lose Voting Rights in NYRA Shake Up

According to pending New York State legislation, representatives from the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. will participate on the New York Racing Association's (NYRA) newly configured board of directors as non-voting "ex-officio members to advise on critical economic and equine health concerns of the racing industry, one appointed by the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. (NYTB), and one appointed by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (NYTHA)."

The legislation enabling the The New York State Racing Franchise Accountability and Transparency Act of 2012, Senate bill S7744-2011 was referred to the NYS Senate Rules Committe on June 16, 2012, and it's Assembly counterpart A10717-2011 was referred to the NYS Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering on the same day.

NYTHA represents licensed racehorse owners and trainers who run horses at the NYRA tracks -- Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga. As stated on its website, NYTHA's mission is to "is to provide effective leadership and direction for the racing industry in New York." The NYTB represents the Thoroughbred breeding industry in New York, offering "the unified voice of Thoroughbred breeders in the State of New York for purposes of communicating the advantages and rewards of breeding Thoroughbreds in the State and for the purposes of conducting and coordinating activities with breeding and racing associations and agencies."

The revocation of racing industry stakeholder voting privileges is just one aspect of the NYRA reorganization under The New York State Racing Franchise Accountability and Transparency Act of 2012. The newly configured executive board, the Reorganization Board, will sit for three years. With 17 voting members the board is smaller in size (down from 25 members), and its make-up skewed towards government rather than racing industry control. The 17-member board will be composed of eight members appointed by the governor, two each by the Assembly Speaker and Senate Temporary President, and five by the current NYRA board. By the end of three years, the Reorganization Board is charged to produce a plan to transition NYRA to private control as a not-for-profit corporation.

The legislation maintains that the temporary reorganization board shall be under public control to ensure The New York Racing Association, Inc. works in the best interest of all stakeholders in horse racing including fans, owners and breeders by managing the state racing franchise with transparency and accountability.

The memorandum accompanying the Governor's Program Bill No.45, says the NYRA reorganization is justified because "The structure of gaming and racing is undergoing change in New York with the establishment of racinos, the creation of the New York State Gaming Commission, and first passage of a constitutional amendment on commercial casinos. Therefore, to ensure the viability and continuity of racing, the racing industry and industries that support and are sustained by the racing industry, exigent circumstances necessitate a temporary change of the governing structure of the present state racing franchise holder to bring it under short-term public control."

In contrast to the exigency of re-forming NYRA, this legislation delays the re-forming of the Racing and Wagering Board and Division of Lottery into the New York State Gaming Commission from October 1, 2012 to February 1, 2012.