ELMONT, N.Y. – Christopher Kay was named President and CEO of The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) following unanimous approval by its Board of Directors at a meeting on Tuesday, June 18. The appointment is effective as of July 1.

Kay, 60, most recently served as Chief Operating Officer for The Trust for Public Land, where he oversaw the operations of the land conservation organization’s headquarters and 37 field offices. Prior to that, Kay was a consultant to Universal Parks & Resorts, serving as its Managing Director of International Business Development. From 2001-2006, Kay served as the Chief Operating Officer for Toys 'R' Us, a Fortune 200 international company, and prior to that he was the retailer's Executive Vice President of Operations and General Counsel. Kay was also a minority owner of Orlando's AA baseball team and a member of the ownership group that sought to obtain the first MLB franchise in Florida.

Kay is a graduate of the University of Missouri and of the Duke University School of Law.

“After a careful search involving many highly qualified candidates, we are delighted to select Chris as our new President and CEO,” said NYRA Chair David J. Skorton. “His wide range of expertise and skills—including experience in the legal, regulatory and corporate governance environments—will serve him extremely well in his new position at NYRA.”

“Chris’s unique blend of experience in retail, theme parks, sports and legal helped set him apart during this extensive search,” said NYRA Board member and Chair of the Nominations and Governance Committee Michael Del Giudice. “We look forward to working with him as NYRA moves forward in the months and years ahead.”

“I am confident that we have found the right person to lead NYRA forward,” said Board Member Stuart S. Janney III, who was also a member of the search committee for the vacant CEO position. “Throughout his career, Chris has demonstrated the type of leadership and strategic vision so crucial to NYRA’s future success.”

“Chris has a thorough understanding of the need to develop and drive brand strategies in a competitive and ever-changing environment,” said Board member Jane Rosenthal, who was also a member of the CEO search committee. “He supported and enhanced the Toys ‘R’ Us brand in every country in which it did business and sought to introduce the Universal Studios theme park brand to new countries as its Managing Director.”

“Though he has had no direct involvement with thoroughbred racing, Chris is familiar with the sport and will make great use of the outstanding team in place that has successfully guided NYRA through the past month and a half—a period that included the 145th Belmont Stakes,” said Board and search committee member Bobby Flay. “Chris’s arrival will bring new ideas and synergies to our organization that will benefit NYRA, horsemen and fans, alike.”

“We were fortunate to choose from an abundance of fine candidates, but Chris’s business and leadership skills stamped him as our first preference,” said Board and search committee member Earle Mack. “I know the Board and others will enjoy working with Chris once he takes over.”

“I’m honored by the confidence expressed in me today by the NYRA Board,” said Kay. “Thoroughbred racing is an important part of the lives of so many—including the hundreds of thousands of fans who have loyally supported us through the years. I will work hard to earn their trust and respect as we embark upon an extremely important chapter of NYRA’s history. Working with the talented professionals at NYRA and its dedicated and experienced Board, I anticipate an exciting and successful future for our sport.”

The NYRA Board retained the services of the executive search firm RSR Partners to assist in the filling of the President and CEO position.