Can thoroughbred racing in New York survive without the bluebloods of the N.Y. Racing Association who traditionally have managed its three race tracks?
That question probably wouldn’t have even come up if it weren’t for a report in the Albany Times Union newspaper last week that federal prosecutors are preparing an indictment charging NYRA with corporate conspiracy. This report came on the heels of a 62-page report, prepared by N.Y. state attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, blasting the track’s operators for failing to stop their employees from cheating their customers.
Federal investigators reportedly have been focusing on a practice involving pari-mutuel clerks who were allowed to take cash loans from their ticket wagering drawer throughout the year. When the season concluded, NYRA would present the clerks with statements listing the amount they owed the company.
The clerks reportedly used these statements to justify so-called losses in their work and would then take these losses as tax deductions, resulting in what was described as millions in tax revenue being lost.
Because of the allegations, officials of another group, the thoroughbred racing Capital Investment Fund (CIF), have been discussing the matter with Gov. George Pataki in the event actual charges are filed and the existing NYRA management is prevented from running the tracks.
According to existing law, if NYRA can no longer function, CIF would take over the NYRA franchise until a new operating group is established.