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NYRA Reorganization Board Holds Inaugural Meeting

By Ashley Herriman | 12/12/2012 06:01 PM ET

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) Reorganization Board of Directors held its inaugural meeting in Manhattan today, officially ushering in a new era of leadership, accountability and transparency for the operator of three of New York’s Thoroughbred racetracks.

The Reorganization Board addressed a series of issues regarding ethics and transparency policies, equine health and safety matters, regulatory oversight, financial issues and proposed racing schedules.

“Today’s meeting signifies a renewed focus of making New York’s Thoroughbred horse racing a model for the rest of the nation, including an emphasis on equine health and safety” said Board Chair David Skorton. “My colleagues on the Reorganization Board are committed to learning from each other and the public and to working with NYRA management to better serve the horse racing industry and its fans. As we did with today’s meeting, the Board will continue to work in an open, accountable and effective manner, as NYRA is an integral and important part of New York’s culture and part of what makes our state a national leader in so many areas.”

The Reorganization Board formally elected Cornell University President David Skorton as Chair; approved a new mission statement with a focus on equine safety; approved the naming of Michael Kotlikoff VMD, PhD as Special Advisor to the Board for Equine Health and Safety; issued policies regarding political contributions, wagering and other matters by NYRA personnel and Directors; approved a portion of the proposed 2013 NYRA racing calendar and stakes schedule; and heard proposals on NYRA’s involvement with next year’s Saratoga 150th Anniversary Celebration.

In total, the Reorganization Board today:
·    Approved a new NYRA Mission Statement: “Meeting the highest standards in thoroughbred racing and equine safety.”
·    Named Michael Kotlikoff VMD, PhD (Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University) as a Special Advisor to the Reorganization Board for Equine Health and Safety (see bio below)
·    Approved a proposal that NYRA will conduct business subject to compliance with the New York’s Open Meetings Law and Freedom of Information Law. NYRA’s Law Department was instructed to make trade secret declarations under FOIL.
·    Undertook a series of ethics and compliance matters, including:
o A prohibition on New York State political campaign contributions by NYRA and NYRA officers
o A termination of “The New York Thoroughbred Racing Industry Political Action Committee”
o A prohibition on wagering by NYRA officers
o Issued notice to Board Members to complete and sign NYRA Code of Ethics, Disclosure by Officers and Directors, and Anti-Money Laundering policies
·    Approved a portion of the 2013 racing dates and stakes schedule
·    Discussed plans for the “Saratoga 150” celebration
·    Listened to a presentation regarding regulatory oversight of NYRA
·    Heard a presentation on NYRA’s current financial status
·    Approved amended By-Laws and Certificate of Incorporation
·    Suggested tentative dates for 2013 Board meetings (to be published soon)

The Board also appointed members to the following committees:
·    Executive: Chaired by David Skorton
·    Audit: Chaired by Joseph Spinelli
·    Compensation: Chaired by Vincent Tese
·    Equine Safety: Chaired by Anthony Bonomo
·    Finance: Chaired by Stuart Subotnick
·    Nominations and Governance: Chaired by Michael Del Giudice
·    Public Hearings and Communications: Chaired by Jane Rosenthal
·    Racing: Chaired by Leonard Riggio

All materials discussed and reviewed during the Reorganization Board’s first meeting, including a list of Board members, bylaws, ethics measures, full committee memberships and more are available at www.nyra.com/boardmeetings/index.shtml.

About Michael Kotlikoff VMD, PhD (Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University): Dr. Kotlikoff received his B.A. and V.M.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, and his Ph.D. degree in Physiology from the University of California, Davis. Dr. Kotlikoff is well acquainted with equine practice and research. Prior to veterinary school he worked at the equine hospital at New Bolton Center for several years and worked as a student with equine veterinarians at Delaware Park. He currently chairs the Harry M. Zweig Equine Research Committee at Cornell. Kotlikoff joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School in 1984 and was jointly appointed in the Department of Medicine in the School of Medicine. In 1995 he was named Chair of the Department of Animal Biology and Director of the Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research. In 1999, Dr. Kotlikoff was recruited to Cornell to Chair the newly formed Department of Biomedical Sciences and to Chair the Cornell Mammalian Genomics Task Force. He also directed the Cornell Transgenic Mouse facility from 2000 until 2007. In 2007 he was named the Austin O. Hooey Dean of the College, and was reappointed to that post in 2012. Dr. Kotlikoff has served on numerous editorial, advisory, and review boards, and currently chairs the Board of Scientific Counsellors of the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health. His laboratory works on cardiovascular biology and heart repair, and he has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1985. He has trained more than 60 undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate students and lectures on physiology, pharmacology, and genetics to veterinary students. Dr. Kotlikoff currently serves on the AVMA Council on Research.

About the NYRA Reorganization Board: The NYRA Reorganization Board consists of 17 directors: eight appointed by the Governor; two directors each appointed by the Senate and Assembly; and five directors appointed by the former NYRA Board. Breeders and Horsemen each have an ex officio member. The NYRA Reorganization Board is in effect for 3 years, following which NYRA will revert back to majority private control. Seven of the appointees are new to the NYRA Board, and bring experience from the entertainment, finance, and legal fields in addition to horse racing.

About Chair David J. Skorton: David J. Skorton, Cornell University's 12th president, is a cardiologist, professor of biomedical engineering, and professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College. He is past chair of the Business-Higher Education Forum, an independent, nonprofit organization of industry CEOs, leaders of colleges and universities, and foundation executives; life member of the Council on Foreign Relations; and member of the board of directors of the Association of American Medical Colleges. He has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. President Skorton has long been active in regional and state economic development. During 2009 he chaired a gubernatorial Task Force on Diversifying the New York State Economy through Industry-Higher Education Partnerships. Cornell University is home to the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, which includes the Cornell Equine Hospital. Dr. Skorton previously served as co-chair of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council.