NYRA exec accepts Hong Kong offer

Mar 20, 2007 5:44 AM

Bill Nader, who has been toiling as chief operating officer at the troubled New York Racing Association (NYRA), will be leaving that post to become executive director of racing for the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

The appointment becomes effective on April 23.

A native of Lawrence, Mass., where his family operated a meat market for a number of years, Nader was a graduate of the University of New Hampshire. During his undergraduate years, he worked as an intern under Rockingham Park publicity director, the late Bruce Stearns, until the famed racetrack was destroyed by fire in 1980.

Nader joined the Rockingham Venture Group when it purchased the facility and restored thoroughbred racing in 1984. He served as publicity director of The Rock for several years until being enticed by the group operating the New York tracks.

While the NYRA management floundered, through one scandal after another, Nader did his best to maintain the high professional status he had developed with the media. And when a new management team was installed with the hope that the NYRA could retain its operating franchise, Nader was promoted to the group’s second highest position of leadership.

Nader will be leaving NYRA at a crucial time. It is one of six bidders for the franchise rights to operated New York’s Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct racetracks, with the additional right of installing 4,000 slot machines at Aqueduct.

In addition to NYRA, the bidders include: Excelsior Racing Association, a group headed by New York Yankees partner Steve Swindal and casino developer Richard Fields; Empire Racing, a Saratoga Springs group that includes Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN) and Magna Entertainment Corp. (MECA); Thoroughbred Racing — N.Y., a group that includes Las Vegas casino impresario Steve Wynn; Catskill Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., and Capital Play, an Australian consortium.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer has indicated he will make his franchise choice on May 25.

Nader was well known among the Nevada casino race book operators since he often participated in contract negotiations involving the simulcasting rights for the New York track live racing signals.