The New York Racing Association board will be submitting a plan to return NYRA to private non-profit control in April, President and CEO Christopher Kay said Thursday.
At a meeting of the NYRA reorganization board of directors in New York City, Kay said he anticipates the board will hold another meeting the week of April 11 so it can approve a reorganization plan for submission to the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
While details are scarce, Kay said the plan will include a set of priorities for the organization going forward, a plan for a new organizational structure, and a business plan for the coming years. Current state legislation requires the plan be submitted by April 21.
The plan, if passed into law, could end four years of state-controlled oversight of the organization that operates the Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct thoroughbred racing tracks. Cuomo put NYRA under state oversight in 2012 because of financial losses and management scandals. The initial plan was for a three-year reorganization, but a year ago Cuomo extended it for a fourth year.
Kay — who was hired by the new reorganization board in 2013 — said NYRA has been turned around, improving its accounting systems, producing better racing, and making the organization profitable again.
NYRA made a $3.5 million profit in 2015, following a $1.7 million profit in 2014. A profit is again expected in 2016.
Board Vice Chairman Michael J. DelGuidice said the draft plan is still being reviewed with state legislators, including those who represent Saratoga, and could still see changes made.
“I think we’ll have a piece of legislation that is pretty good by the time we’re ready to go,” he said.
NYRA officials reported that total wagering at all three tracks for 2015 totaled more than $2.2 billion, a 3 percent increase from the previous year.
The 2015 racing year saw American Pharoah’s historic Triple Crown victory at Belmont in May, as well as a sell-out crowd of 50,000 that saw Pharoah race — and lose — in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 29.
Total wagering on racing at Saratoga rose 14.1 percent, to just over $656 million. On-track wagering at Saratoga was $157.6 million, up 4.8 percent from 2015.
A record $11.5 million was bet on the Travers alone, and NYRA said the total handle from all sources on Travers Day was $49.7 million.
NYRA also highlighted the $7.3 million bet on the Whitney, won by Honor Code, who went on to win the Eclipse Award for older males racing on dirt.
The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors’ Racing and Gaming Committee, meeting later Thursday in Ballston Spa, decided to postpone a planned vote urging reprivatization of NYRA until after members see details of the new plan.
“We want to stay on top of it, see what the plan looks like,” said Rod Sutton of Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing, which has supported the return of NYRA to private non-profit control.
The track and associated activity is estimated to be worth $237 million annually to the Capital Region. “It’s a huge industry for us, for tourism,” Sutton said.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, swilliams@dailygazette,net or @gazettesteve on Twitter.