Edited press release
Empire Racing Associates has released the names of a nine-member team of racing-operations professionals, many from Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment Corp., that will lead its racing transition team should Empire Racing be awarded the New York Thoroughbred racing franchise.
Empire Racing submitted its racing transition team to the state in response to an inquiry from Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s racing panel, which queried bidders during recent public hearings about the transfer of racing operations. Empire Racing’s proposal outlined a 90-day transition plan that would ensure continuity of racing operations, focus on track and facility safety, and implement new policies regarding integrity, transparency, and communication.
The franchise currently held by the New York Racing Association expires Dec. 31. NYRA is one of the bidders for the new franchise.
One of the immediate responsibilities of the team will be to begin planning for the installation of synthetic surfaces at racetracks.
“Our transition team was created through our unique access to experienced and accomplished racing industry leaders who are part of Empire’s organization,” Empire Racing chairman and New York horseman Jeffrey Tucker said. “It is critical to the horse owners, breeders, and trainers in New York and our industry nationally that we maintain racing continuity at all times.”
The transition team will be headed by Empire chief executive officer Jeff Perlee and will include the following racing executives:
Steve Sexton, president of Churchill Downs and executive vice president of CDI.
Christian Riegle, president and general manager of Delaware North-owned Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack.
George Haines, vice president and general manager of MEC-owned Santa Anita Park.
Bill Murphy, president of MEC-owned Gulfstream Park.
Kenneth Dunn, president of CDI-owned Calder Race Course and senior vice president of Florida operations for Churchill Downs Management Co.
Allen Gutterman, vice president of marketing for Santa Anita.
Dennis Brida, former president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and former executive director of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders.
Patrick Kelly, a New York-based trainer and New York THA board member.
Empire Racing’s racetrack partners include CDI and MEC, each of which owns a minority interest in the venture.