NYRA May Lose Skorton as Chairman

Skorton is taking a job as secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

The New York Racing Association is at some unknown date losing its board chairman as it looks within the next year or so to transition from a state-run entity back to a privately held corporation.

David Skorton, who has served as NYRA's chairman since late 2012 and is president of Cornell University, is taking the job as secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

Skorton will remain at Cornell through June 2015, but it is unclear if he will stay at NYRA until that same date.

A statement from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not make things any clearer about Skorton's role at NYRA, but the remarks by Cuomo, who named Skorton to the NYRA job, sounded like a departure statement.

"During his remarkable tenure as president of Cornell University, he has also personally overseen the transformation of the New York Racing Association and jump-started critical reforms of New York's Thoroughbred industry,'' Cuomo said.

"I thank Dr. Skorton for his public service and wish him well as he prepares for this next chapter,'' Cuomo added.

NYRA officials, though, suggested Skorton will remain in his post, though they did not say for how long. "Dr. Skorton is the chairman of the New York Racing Association board, and we believe that he will continue to lead the board with distinction,'' NYRA said.

While NYRA has introduced a number of new equine safety measures and sought new ways to market its product, the racing entity still has a road to travel toward restoring its financial position. A host of matters still remain unresolved, not the least of which is whether Aqueduct Racetrack is going to continue as a racing facility.

The Smithsonian board chose Skorton as its next leader March 9, but did not announce it until March 10. He has headed Cornell since 2006.