Back-to-back years of profit are expected for the New York Racing Association.
The nonprofit racing corporation, which runs thoroughbred racing at Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct, is expecting to have a net income of $14 million in 2012 and $15 million this year, according to a proposed budget for 2013 that was submitted this week for state review.
“I think you’re going to be seeing some great things from NYRA in 2013. … We’re going to take a big leap forward [in the industry],” NYRA President and COO Ellen McClain said at a meeting with the state’s Franchise Oversight Board on Friday afternoon.
The projections assume a 1 percent growth in gambling on races at the Saratoga Race Course, which will kick off its 40 days of racing on July 19 this year.
Saratoga is also planned to be the recipient of $4.9 million in capital improvements, including almost $1.7 million on barn-area upgrades and almost $1.3 million in patron-area improvements. The barn-area upgrades include making electrical upgrades to the dorms, but no heat upgrades, which would be useful for workers who arrive in the early spring. The patron-area improvements include video walls, a public viewing stand for the practice track and new benches on the apron.
Money for 12 high-definition cameras is included in the budget, as NYRA plans to upgrade from standard video production to high-definition video production.
This year NYRA is projecting that it will get less bang for its buck when it comes to its investment in purses. The investment in purses paid out to winners is increasing by 2.7 percent and but NYRA is anticipating that the amount gambled per dollar invested in purses will go down 3.3 percent.
The investment in purses, which has been increased using video lottery terminal revenue from Aqueduct, was questioned Friday by John Crotty, a member of the state’s Franchise Oversight Board. He asked whether the investment was leading to horses dying at Aqueduct, which has picked up recently, based on the idea that unqualified horses are going after large prizes. Crotty also noted that the yield of that investment was not as high as hoped.
“It is having good seats on the Titanic,” he said, arguing that the industry is heading in a negative direction and that the good purses in New York are artificially propping up the state’s thoroughbred racing industry.
McClain acknowledged that it wasn’t clear whether purses were at the right level yet, but she said it is an ongoing issue under review. She also rejected the idea that there was a direct link from the higher purses to the high-profile deaths.