Wednesday, December 3, 2014

New York Racing Association forges clear path towards long-term sustainability and growth with first operating surplus in 13 years




Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Contact: John Durso, Jr.

(718) 659-2244

New York Racing Association forges clear path towards long-term sustainability and growth with achievement of first operating surplus in 13 years



NEW YORK, N.Y. - The New York Racing Association will conclude the year with its first operating budget surplus in 13 years, Chief Executive Officer and President Christopher Kay announced at this morning's public Board of Directors meeting in Midtown Manhattan.


Open to the public and streamed live on, the meeting featured an extensive discussion related to the racing leader's financial turnaround and success, which follows a re-organization effort led by Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders two years ago.


The Board also took continued steps towards securing long-term operational sustainability of the organization through passage of the 2015 budget, which projects an operational surplus for the second straight year.


A power point presentation from this morning's meeting has been posted on-line, and can be accessed by visiting


First Operating Surplus in 13 Years


Calling the achievement of the New York Racing Association's first operating surplus in more than a decade "a meaningful milestone," Kay noted that the final surplus of $1.5 million is six times larger than originally forecast at the start of the year, and reflects a $14.4 million improvement over the 2013 operating results.


"We are committed to fulfilling Governor Cuomo's vision of a reformed, revitalized and financially sustainable thoroughbred racing leader," stated Kay.


Growing Revenues and Reducing Costs


According to Kay, the operating profit was achieved in spite of numerous challenges, including severe weather and temporary, industry-wide drops in handle during the third quarter. The milestone budget surplus was ultimately reached through the targeted reduction of expenses, combined with prudent increases in operational revenues.


Steps undertaken to grow operational revenues included:


-           Improving the on-track experience through the opening of Longshots and the             debut of new capital improvements at all three racetracks

-           Utilizing new technology to grow the NYRA Rewards program

-           Implementing modest increases for admission, seating and parking

-           Increasing the amount charged for the simulcast signals

-           Increasing the amount of sponsorship revenues

-           Increasing content fees and group sales events


Steps undertaken to reduce operational costs included:

-           Closing the Aqueduct training facility during non-racing months

-           Reducing legal expenses

-           Reducing costs related to phone wagering

-           Reducing overall labor expenses

-           Improving efficiency throughout the entire organization


Further, Kay noted that New York Racing Association also paid off a $25 million loan to Genting in 2014. As a result, the organization is now debt-free.


A Focus on Accountability



Kay thanked New York Racing Association Chairman Dr. David Skorton and the members of the re-organization Board of Directors for their leadership, focus and support. He also acknowledged the Board for their efforts to forge new operational reforms, designed to further usher in a new era of organizational accountability.


Additionally, Kay cited acquisition of new executives with extensive experience in corporate governance and regulatory compliance. The organization has since hired a new General Counsel and a new Chief Compliance Officer, who possess extensive backgrounds and experience in corporate governance and regulatory compliance, respectively.


The accountability effort was specifically led by Board Member Joseph Spinelli, who served as New York State's first Inspector General.


National Leadership



Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Susanne Stover provided the Board with a review of industry data for the first three quarters of 2014. These statistics showed that while wagering on thoroughbred races across the United States decreased by 3 percent, wagering on races at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course increased by 1 percent.


Further, Stover's data revealed that every dollar invested in purses at these three tracks during the nine-month period yielded $13.74 in handle, compared to $9.73 industry-wide. According to the Chief Financial Officer, New York Racing Association tracks contributed 5 percent of total industry race days, offered 15 percent of purses, and generated 21 percent of thoroughbred handle across the United States to date.


Forecasts project that the New York Racing Association will end the year offering 23 percent of graded stakes across the nation, and generating 23 percent of the thoroughbred handle across the nation. This equates to nearly one in every four dollars wagered on thoroughbred racing in America.  

Passage of the 2015 Budget


The 2015 operating budget projects an operational surplus of $2.1 million. For the second consecutive year, this operational profit is projected to be achieved independent of VLT revenues dedicated for operations.


"We are proud of the enormous strides we have taken to improve our long-term financial stability. We recognize the important role of our operations for the people of New York, as well as the thoroughbred racing industry which is responsible for more than 17,400 jobs, and contributes more than $2.1 billion towards New York's urban, suburban and rural economy. The New York Racing Association is the cornerstone of that industry," said Kay.


The 2015 capital budget totals $36 million. Projects funded through the 2015 capital budget include the installation of new security systems at all three facilities, as well as new technological upgrades to the organization's customer service, simulcast, television and on-line platforms. The 2015 capital budget will also fund the following, track-specific improvements in 2015:



-       Installation of a new public address system

-       Refurbishment of the Manhattan Terrace

-       Construction of a new, climate-controlled Horsemen Lounge for owners    and trainers 




-       Refurbishment of the West End/LIRR rotunda

-       Replacement of the Main Track's track cushion

-       Irrigation system upgrades to the turf courses and infield

-       Continuation of ADA improvements throughout the property

-       Construction of a second new dormitory for backstretch workers

-       Expansion of barns to provide stall spaces for an additional 200 horses




-       Installation of new backyard video boards

-       Construction of a new bar area for the lower carousel, and a new restaurant area for the upper carousel

-       Construction of a new Saratoga Race Course "Walk of Fame" featuring the new Tom Durkin Replay Center

-       Irrigation system upgrades to the Mellon and Inner Turf courses

-       Restroom upgrades throughout the property

-       Continuation of ADA improvements throughout the property

-       Refurbishment of six dormitories for backstretch workers

-       Design of a new, permanent "At the Rail" building near the clubhouse turn


"We continue to make the strategic investments necessary to further enhance the guest experience, and to further improve the quality of racing at Aqueduct, Belmont and in Saratoga," said Kay.


Farewell to Dr. David Skorton


At the conclusion of the meeting, Chairman Skorton announced that he will officially depart the New York Racing Association, effective December 31.  


The 12th president of Cornell University and the Chairman of the New York Racing Association's re-organization Board of Directors, Dr. Skorton had previously accepted a new role as the next secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum and research complex.


"Governor Cuomo's appointment of Dr. David J. Skorton has changed the direction of thoroughbred racing in New York," stated Kay. "Dr. Skorton's leadership, integrity and focus on results transformed NYRA into today's revitalized, reformed and financially-sustainable racing leader. As a result, the New York Racing Association is now better positioned to support New York's growing economy.


"On behalf of the men and women of the New York Racing Association, we offer our deepest thanks and gratitude to Dr. Skorton, stated Kay. "We will miss him."


About the New York Racing Association

Founded in 1955 and franchised to run thoroughbred racing at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course through 2033, The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) is a not-for-profit, non-dividend paying corporation governed by a Board of Directors, whose members receive no compensation or dividends.  The host of the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of thoroughbred racing's "Triple Crown", NYRA tracks are the cornerstone of New York's thoroughbred business; a sport industry segment which provides approximately 17,400 jobs and contributes more than $2.1 billion annually to New York State's urban, suburban and rural economy















Forward this email

This email was sent to by |  

The New York Racing Association, Inc. | NYRA | Press Office | P.O. Box 90 | Jamaica | NY | 11417