Knowlton Among Six Named to Key 'Future of NY Racing' Panel

Knowlton Among Six Named to Key 'Future of NY Racing' Panel
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
New York Thoroughbred owner Jack Knowlton among panel appointees.
Thoroughbred owner Jack Knowlton is among six appointments to a newly-created Committee on the Future of Racing announced by New York Republican Gov. George Pataki and state Senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno on Friday.

The committee will solicit proposals from all interested corporations and associations seeking the exclusive right to operate and maintain Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga for a franchise period beginning on January 1, 2008. The committee was created in legislation signed into law by Pataki earlier this year. The New York Racing Association's franchise expires at the end of 2006.

Pataki appointments are: J. Patrick Barrett, Bernadette Castro, and Fredric S. Newman. Bruno, an upstate Republican, appointed Jack Knowlton, John Nigro, and Edward P. Swyer as the Senate Majority's appointees.

Manhattan Democrat Sheldon Silver, as speaker of the assembly, will recommend three individuals, bringing the total to nine unpaid members that will serve on the committee.

Recently enacted racing industry reform legislation was designed to accelerate the formation of the Ad-Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing to: hold and conduct public hearings; establish the franchise bid process and scope; issue formal Requests for Proposals or RFP's; and determine which bid or bids can reasonably best provide for the operation and maintenance of the racing facilities.

The committee will report its findings and recommendations to the governor, legislature, and New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

The following biographies of the appointments were supplied by Pataki's office:

J. Patrick Barrett began as an assistant treasurer for the Carrier International Corporation in 1964, working his way up to president of the company in 1977. He oversaw the creation of the largest employee stock ownership program in the nation as chairman and chief executive officer of Avis, Inc. Barrett serves as a trustee of Siena College, and trustee emeritus of Syracuse University. He attended Siena College, where he received a degree in Economics.

Bernadette Castro, prior to her appointment as commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation in 1995, worked in her family business, Castro Convertibles, and ultimately became president and chief executive officer before it was sold in 1993. She is the recipient of the Women in Conservation Award from the National Audubon Society, the Theodore Roosevelt Medal for Conservation from The History Channel, and many others recognizing her commitment to the environment and historic preservation. Castro attended the University of Florida, earning her undergraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism and her graduate degree in Secondary School Administration. She became the first woman to receive the University's Distinguished Service Alumni Award from the College of Journalism.

Fredric S. Newman is a founding partner of Hoguet Newman & Regal, a commercial litigation and employment law firm. He has served in many civic and non-profit positions, such as director of the Columbia Law School Association, director and vice president of the New York chapter of the American Corporate Counsel Association, and also a trustee of the Calhoun School in New York City. Newman attended Harvard College, Columbia Law School, and the University Of Virginia Darden School of Business, where he completed an Executive M.B.A.

Jack Knowlton, president of Empire Health Advisors in Saratoga Springs and managing partner of Sackatoga Stables, owners of the legendary New York-bred gelding Funny Cide that won the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Knowlton is a member of the board of directors of Friends of New York Racing, a research group working toward passage of legislation designed to revamp the business model for racing in the state.

John Nigro, president of Nigro Companies, an Albany-based real estate development and management firm. Nigro is also vice chairman of the Siena College Board of Trustees, a member of the RPI Board of Trustees, and sits on the boards of the Center for Economic Growth, the St. Anne's Institute Foundation, the New York Charitable Asset Foundation, and the Albany Symphony.

Edward P. Swyer is an entrepreneur who has founded and grown several successful companies, including Capital Bank & Trust, the Swyer Companies, a commercial real estate development company, and Selected Properties of the Northeast, a commercial real estate development and management firm. He is a community leader in the Capital Region, especially in the areas of higher education, where he is a benefactor of the University at Albany and the arts, through his involvement with the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and the Albany Institute of History and Art.

"The economic impact of the horse racing industry on New York is tremendous," said Empire State Development Chairman Charles A. Gargano. "The industry and related businesses generate more than 35,000 jobs, with a yearly economic impact of $2.4 billion, of which $1.3 billion is attributed to Thoroughbreds. There are more than 400 working Thoroughbred breeding farms in New York, in 49 counties. It is an industry which touches literally thousands of people and dozens of businesses, which is why the work of the new committee is so important."

"We are committed to doing everything possible to ensure (the industry) remains strong and vibrant for years to come," said Pataki. "I'm confident that this new committee and its members will fully explore and determine the best way to secure New York's racing industry and bring our racing franchise into the 21st century."

Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said, "With NYRA's franchise expiring, we have a unique opportunity to ensure the future strength of our horse racing industry that has a multi-billion impact on the state's economy and employs more than 35,000 people."

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