Sabini to Lead NY Thoroughbred Breeders Panel

Gov. David Patterson made the announcement May 21

New York’s top racing regulator has been tapped to head a quasi-government panel that distributes over $60 million a year in various Thoroughbred breeding and other awards.

Gov. David Paterson tapped Racing and Wagering Board chairman John Sabini May 21 as the new head of the state Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund. He replaces Lorraine Tharp, who died last year.

The fund was created in 1973 to help bolster the Thoroughbred industry in the state. It distributes breeder, stallion and owner awards as well as purse money for New York-bred horses.

Its board members include other state agency heads, as well as breeder and owner representatives, including Dr. William Wilmot, Edward Kelly, Joseph McMahon, and Philip Trowbridge.

The corporation’s funds come from wagers placed on bets at New York tracks and at racetrack-based casinos.

The breeding fund also keeps registrations of New York-bred horses. Its awards go to breeders of New York-breds and stallions based in the state.

In 2008, $60 million was distributed by the entity in various purses, awards and incentives.

Sabini is a former Democratic state senator from Queens. Among his accomplishments since taking over the racing board last year was rushing into place the state’s steroid testing policies for racetracks. He has become known for his outspoken ways, such as critical remarks last year aimed at the New York Racing Association for not doing enough to promote racing in the state. Sabini said he also wants to push tracks harder to improve backstretch facilities.

Sabini has been serving since last year as a member of the breeding and development fund. As racing regulator and board member of the fund, he pushed for the panel to halt the distribution of awards to Ernest Paragallo after horses were found to be mistreated at his Greene County farm in upstate New York. Paragallo is due in court May 22 before a town judge.

“The appointment is good news for the racing industry. Chairman Sabini is both an innovator and reformer. He’s a strong believer in transparency, accountability and doing the job in an efficient manner,’’ said racing board spokesman Joseph Mahoney.