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NYRA may pursue Breeders Cup for Belmont

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
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— Bobby Flay is rekindling talk of bringing the Breeders Cup back to New York City.

Hopes of attracting the two-day racing championship were raised during the New York Racing Association Board meeting Wednesday afternoon, when board member Flay suggested it would be up for grabs in 2014. The fall event hasn’t been held at Belmont Park in almost a decade.

A potential stumbling block to attracting the prestigious racing event could be NYRA’s approval of Lasix, a drug that prevents horses from bleeding. The Breeders Cup operators are suggesting they would want a ban on the drug before bringing their event to Belmont, which might be a deal breaker.

NYRA board member Rick Violette, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, raised serious concerns in the meeting about banning Lasix. Despite this, he added, “We’re supposed to have the Breeders Cup.”

The search for a new CEO for NYRA was also discussed at the board meeting, where a search consultant and a potential compensation package for the job were approved.

Board member Vincent Tese said the consultant advised offering a CEO between $600,000 and $1.1 million. This range was about twice what the board decided to go with — a $300,000 base salary and about $250,000 in annual incentives.

Board Chairman David Skorton said the incentives were a “fabulous” idea. Board adviser John Hendrickson noted that the base pay would be below what some of the CEO’s subordinates would make.

There was a serious concern among the board about not creating too large of a salary, considering NYRA’s status as a government-run entity. In the past, NYRA has been criticized for the salaries of its executive staff.

Also discussed at the meeting were plans to expand into the market previously occupied by the New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. NYRA President Ellen McClain said fans there are currently underserved and noted that NYRA has captured about a third of the NYC OTB business.

“We see an opportunity to go back into that market,” she said.

McClain laid out a three-year plan that would culminate with NYRA operating 40 restaurants where people could watch races and bet. This plan would require changes to existing regulations.

 
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