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nyra

1204_nyra
The horses are in the black.
For the first time in 13 years, the New
York Racing Association expects to end
the year in the black, with a $1.5 million
surplus from its races and other
operations.
And next year, they are projecting a
$2.1 million surplus, although there will
be slightly fewer race days and fewer
horses in those races, thanks to a
national trend.
Members of the NYRA board learned of
the surplus Wednesday as they outlined
next year's $154 million budget.
Part of the turnaround is due to ongoing
cost cutting and some admission
increases such as the $2 hike -- from $3
to $5 for general admission at the
Saratoga Race Course last summer.

But there have been savings too, since


NYRA's budget this year is pegged at
$155 million.
As well as trimming race days, they
expect to save money going forward by
closing barn space at the Aqueduct
track in New York City when they are
nor racing.
The news also came as board Chairman
David Skorton told members he was
stepping down and Wednesday would
mark his last meeting.
The Cornell University president,
Skorton this summer will be leading the
Smithsonian Institution in Washington
D.C.
He was recruited by the Cuomo
Administration two years ago when the
NYRA board, which had long been
dogged with a reputation for patronage
and secrecy, was reconstituted under
state control.

The current board is scheduled to turn


NYRA back into private non-profit status
next fall.
A cardiologist by training, Skorton said
he went from'' knowing nothing about
Thoroughbred racing to next to nothing.'
The 2015 budget includes a number of
improvements at NYRA tracks including
Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct.
At Saratoga they are looking at
improving video boards, and a "Walk of
Fame'' that will include a tribute to
retired longtime announcer Tom Durkin.
They also plan dorm renovations for
backstretech employees and upgrade
the irrigation at the Mellon and Inner
Turf courses.
None of this is to say there aren't
challenges. Board members briefly
discussed the ongoing decline in the
foal crop, or annual count of newborn
race horses.

The drop was aggravated by the 2008


Recession and the result is that races
tend to have fewer horses competing.
Based on a average, Saratoga, for
example is looking at races averaging
7.8 horses compared to 7.9 during the
previous season. That translates into a
lower handle or amount that is bet. They
are lookig at a 3 percent decreas in the
handle next year.