Long accustomed to holding board meetings in secret, the New York Racing Association will cease the closed-door practice and follow the state's open meetings law by making the gatherings open to the public.
The new NYRA chairman, David Skorton, who met Nov. 7 with management of NYRA and representatives of the Thoroughbred horsemen's group, said the first meeting of the new state-controlled board will be held sometime in December.
Skorton, president of Cornell University and new to the racing industry, was recommended for the post by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who signed legislation earlier this summer to have the state take over the troubled NYRA for a three-year reorganization period.
The takeover came after years of run-ins between NYRA and various gubernatorial administrations, as well as financial and legal troubles at the non-profit racing group that runs Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga racetracks.
"This is an important institution that has a long history in our state. The racing industry is too important to the state for NYRA not to be performing at its peak,'' Skorton said in a statement.
The new NYRA chairman said the board will be reaching out to all stakeholders, and will be calling public hearings at the tracks to hear from customers and others involved in racing "to solicit input in order to build on New York's premier racing status.''
Following his first tour as NYRA chairman of Aqueduct and its new casino, Skorton said the board will also be acting swiftly on a variety of recommendations made by a recent outside task force on equine safety to improve operations at the tracks.