Edited press release
The New York comptroller has called on the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing in New York to supplement its request for proposals for Thoroughbred racing franchise-holders to require respondents to specifically address initiatives intended to ensure the integrity of racing and wagering recommended in 2005 by court-appointed federal monitor Getnick & Getnick.
The monitor, who reported to state Comptroller Alan Hevesi and the U.S. Attorney's office, instituted various measures to promote ethical operations at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga, as well as associated wagering by the current franchise-holder, the New York Racing Association.
"It is clear that the RFP fails to adequately address the recommendations of Getnick & Getnick, as well as the reforms in the operation of New York's Thoroughbred tracks already implemented as a result of the federal monitorship," Hevesi wrote in a letter to committee chairman J. Patrick Barrett. "The abuses that led to NYRA's indictment are too serious, and the reforms that were developed in response to those abuses are too important, to be ignored in establishing the conditions for the next franchise."
Hevesi said all potential franchise-holders should include in their proposals detailed plans to address the following:
--All Thoroughbred tracks should provide safe, healthy, humane working and living environments for all employees.
--Simulcast signals should not be provided to rebate shops that do not provide all necessary information to confirm they are operating in a lawful manner.
--Drug-testing programs should be in place to ensure all races are fairly run.
--All tracks should have pre-race monitoring barns.
--Horsemen's funds should be maintained in fully-funded segregated trust accounts, with full access for horsemen to account records.
--A comprehensive code of ethics should be in place and meaningfully enforced at all tracks.
--Annual audited financial statements should be prepared according to generally accepted accounting principles, should accurately portray the financial condition of the franchise-holder, and should be available to state regulatory agencies.
--The franchise-holder should register as a money services business, encompassing all related reporting requirements.
Hevesi also said the committee's current schedule providing a one-month timeframe for review of response to the RFP is too short. He said taking extra time to review the proposals is necessary and appropriate for the award of the twenty-year franchise.
"I believe that the ad hoc committee is well aware of the long-term financial and economic implications of the franchise award, as well as the committee's primary responsibility to assure that the franchise is awarded to an entity that will promote the integrity of Thoroughbred racing and wagering," Hevesi wrote in his letter. "It is essential that the ad hoc committee allow a sufficient amount of time to complete a thorough and responsible evaluation based upon the monitor's recommendations that will assure the public that all relevant factors have been fully and fairly considered."
Responses to the RFP are due to the committee Aug. 29.
NYRA, which currently holds the three-track franchise, said Aug. 14 it supports Hevesi's request "calling for a continuation of the most significant improvements implemented by NYRA to be included as conditions of the new franchise" regardless of which association is awarded the franchise. NYRA said it urges all racetracks to adopt these integrity measures, irrespective of whether they are bidding on the New York racing franchise.