OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) Board of Directors approved its three-year work plan, focused on equine safety, and formally began its search for a new President and CEO for the organization during its second meeting on Friday.

Meeting in Manhattan, the Board addressed a series of recently proposed equine safety initiatives, including reducing the number of race days per week during the inner-track meet at Aqueduct Racetrack, forming a search committee for the Equine Veterinary Medical Director, and establishing a mortality review board for NYRA. There was discussion of the merits of installing a synthetic surface on the inner track and that issue will continue to be explored by the board.

“The safety of the equine and human athletes competing at NYRA’s tracks is a top priority for this board,” said Chair David Skorton. “Today, we took important steps forward, guided by recommendations from the Equine Health and Safety Committee. I thank Dr. Michael Kotlikoff, dean of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and Special Advisor to the Board for Equine Health and Safety, and committee chairman Anthony Bonomo for their leadership on this issue. We will soon begin the search process for the new Equine Veterinary Medical Director position announced last week.”

Early in the meeting, NYRA’s current President and Chief Operating Officer, Ellen McClain, announced her resignation. McClain will stay on through at least March 31 as NYRA searches for and begins its transition to a new President and CEO. Board members Bobby Flay, Stuart Janney, Earle Mack and Jane Rosenthal will serve on the executive search committee, which will be chaired by Skorton.

“Ellen McClain has been extremely helpful since my appointment in educating me about NYRA as an organization and helping this board begin its work,” said Skorton. “Establishing stable, long-term leadership at NYRA is another critical part of our mission and we take that task very seriously.”

Also on Friday, the Board established a three-year work plan and formally approved NYRA’s 2013 operating and capital budget.

In total, the Board today:
•Voted to authorize NYRA to seek a reduction in race days for the inner-track meet at Aqueduct, including seeking approval for legislative changes essential to that reduction
•Voted to form a search committee to fill the position of Equine Veterinary Medical Director for NYRA
•Voted to authorize the establishment and organization of NYRA’s Mortality Review Board

•Established a three-year-work plan for the board with eight major goals:
o Establish, oversee, and support an optimal management structure and leadership for NYRA
o Implement best practices to protect equine health and safety
o Optimize the racing experience for NYRA customers
o Enhance quality of thoroughbred racing at NYRA tracks to maintain NYRA’s traditional position of national leadership
o Judiciously employ new technologies to the benefit of the wagering public
o Optimize NYRA relations with its host communities, racing organizations, and relevant governmental entities within New York State
o Ensure that NYRA’s operations provide a safe working environment for its employees and support vibrant local and state-wide economies
o Prepare NYRA for re-privatization
•Approved NYRA’s 2013 operating and capital budget
•Approved a schedule for remaining 2013 Board meetings which calls for meetings on February 27, May 15, August 28, and December 4
•Designated a records access officer and records access appeals officer for NYRA

All materials discussed and reviewed during the Board’s meetings, replays of past meetings, and a list of Board members are available at:

About the NYRA Board: The NYRA Board consists of 17 directors: eight appointed by Governor Cuomo; 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 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.