NYRA senior vice president and chief financial officer Susanne Stover

NYRA senior vice president and chief financial officer Susanne Stover


NYRA Financials a Mixed Bag So Far in 2013

Net income is up, total wagering is down, but Saratoga handle is up.

The New York Racing Association reported net income of $8.2 million for the first six months of 2013, up 2% from the same period in 2012 because of an increase in video lottery terminal revenue and a decrease in expenses.

The financial report was discussed during the Aug. 28 NYRA board of directors meeting in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

NYRA earned $54.3 million in revenue from VLTs at the Resorts World gaming facility at Aqueduct Racetrack for the first six months of 2013. According to the financial report, $27.1 million went to purses for overnight races and stakes, $15.6 million for the capital improvement fund, and $11.7 million to support NYRA operations.

The financials show the importance of gaming revenue to NYRA; the organization had a $10.3 million operating loss from racing operations–not including VLT revenue–in the first half of 2013, up 103% from the same period in 2012.

NYRA senior vice president and chief financial officer Susanne Stover told the board of directors that total wagering at Saratoga Race Course was up 1.9% through Aug. 26 when compared with the same dates last year. And though attendance is down about 3%, revenue from food and beverage and merchandise sold at the track is up about 18% thus far.

Stover noted that for the first six months of this year, wagering on NYRA races at Saratoga, Aqueduct, and Belmont Park was down 7% versus a 1% decline for all races run in the United States during that period. She noted there were 10 fewer racing days at the three tracks through June 30.

NYRA accounted for 5% of total U.S. race days–individual programs at each track–12% of total U.S. purses, and 16% of pari-mutuel handle on U.S. races, Stover said, citing Equibase statistics. She said every dollar invested in purses at NYRA during the six months yielded $15.29 in handle compared with $10.93 industry-wide.

Meanwhile, NYRA president and chief executive officer Chris Kay outlined his first seven weeks on the job, which he called a "very invigorating experience." Kay said he has "come to more fully appreciate the challenges and the opportunities that lie ahead" for New York Thoroughbred racing.

Kay said he is focusing on three areas: the guest experience, quality of racing, and efforts to re-privatize NYRA. He said NYRA hopes to fill the position of senior vice president of racing operations in 60-90 days, and have a new advance deposit wagering system operating by the 2014 Triple Crown season.

As for the privatization sought by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Kay said NYRA must have the right corporate structure, a solid financial foundation, and healthy physical assets. He said NYRA would hire a consultant to assess facilities as they compare with those of other sports franchises.

"We need to position our organization to have a robust business plan in years to come," Kay said. "We will all address all of these issues with a sense of urgency."