Charlie Hayward, the embattled and fired chief executive officer of the New York Racing Association, said in a statement May 5 he expects to be fully exonerated from allegations he deliberately tried to hide an illegally high pari-mutuel takeout rate on exotic wagers.
"Both the interim report and the investigation on which the report is based are flawed and admittedly incomplete," Hayward said in a statement distributed by attorney Eric Corngold. "The interim report badly misrepresents documents and was prepared without interviewing me or any other individuals relevant to their investigation."
He said he is fully cooperating with the NYRA board.
"I look forward to the (New York State) Racing and Wagering Board and the New York Inspector General completing their investigations as expeditiously as possible," he said. "I expect to be fully exonerated when all of the facts come out."
Also let go was Patrick Kehoe, NYRA’s senior vice president and counsel.
Hayward and Kehoe were fired May 4, the same day the NYRA board was to provide its response to state regulators looking into the matter. The state Inspector General’s office launched an investigation that could result in civil or criminal sanctions.
Hayward and Kehoe were both named in a recent interim report by the NYSRWB as having possible knowledge that NYRA illegally maintained a 26% takeout level for 15 months after expiration of a state law. The takeout was not lowered until last December to its proper 25% level.
In a separate letter sent to NYRA chairman C. Steven Duncker, Corngold stressed that NYRA did not knowingly set a higher takeout rate.
"You are aware it has been Mr. Hayward’s consistent philosophy—expressed publicly and privately—that lower takeout rates actually yield higher revenues," the letter said. "So it simply makes no sense to conclude that NYRA or Mr. Hayward knowingly attempted to set higher than lower takeout rates."
The letter said Hayward’s position has been supported by Daily Racing Form publisher and columnist Steven Crist, who had discussed the higher takeout rate with Hayward 14 months prior to the error being discovered in December.
"I can think of no reason why (Hayward) would have concealed that knowledge, and I believe that had he known the wrong rate was being applied, he would have gotten it changed immediately," Crist wrote recently.
Duncker said the board’s decision to fire Hayward and Kehoe was based on a determination that the executives failed to perform their duties at a level required by the board.