The New York Racing Association has named Charles Hayward, a former president of Daily Racing Form
, as its new president and chief executive officer. Hayward replaces Terry Meyocks, who resigned following several years of legal and financial turmoil at NYRA.
"New York racing is clearly the best in the world, and it is an important part of the economy of New York state," Hayward said. "I look forward to working with the NYRA management team, state regulators, and elected officials to maximize the business benefits of NYRA for the state, our horsemen, and the racing fans of New York.''
Hayward takes over NYRA at a time when a court-appointed monitor has been overseeing its operations as part of an agreement to keep NYRA from being prosecuted for its role in a series of illegal acts by former employees. NYRA also paid a $3-million fine. Neil Getnick, the chief monitor, met with Hayward but didn't have to approve his appointment.
"Charlie brings to NYRA substantial, successful business and management experience, and a true appreciation and understanding of horse racing," Steve Duncker, vice chairman NYRA's board of trustees, said in a prepared statement. "In his two most recent management positions, Charlie upgraded operations and business results.
"We look forward to his contributions as we continue to improve NYRA's management and solidify our business operations."
Sources have said Hayward was the only candidate for the job. Hayward, 54, will be paid $370,000 a year through the end of his contract, which expires at the same time NYRA's franchise license ends in 2007.
Hayward, who said he has been a racing fan for 25 years, acknowledged he is coming to NYRA at a time of turmoil.
"Clearly, there are some big challenges we have here at NYRA,'' he said. One of the biggest, he said, is returning NYRA to profitability, which NYRA officials said would be done through a combination of cost-cutting and devising new ways to increase revenue.
Hayward sought to portray himself as a consensus-builder who is ready to reach out to all segments of the racing industry. Hayward said he lists Magna Entertainment Corp., which is eyeing NYRA's franchise, as both a customer and competitor he wants to work with, not against.
"This business has got to work together," Hayward said. "Yes, I would say working and collaborating with Magna and Churchill (Downs Inc.) would be priorities."
He even reached out to off-track betting corporations, which have been at odds with the racing association. "NYRA shouldn't be fighting with OTB,'' he said.
Hayward takes over the dual titles of president and chief executive officer. Barry Schwartz, the NYRA board chairman who is leaving that post at the end of the year, held the CEO position.
A NYRA release said the next chairman--Duncker is a candidate-- would serve in "a non-executive role.'' Under terms of the Hayward's hiring, Duncker and Peter Karches, who were appointed co-chief operating officers during the height of NYRA's legal problems, would continue to serve as NYRA vice chairmen but give up their COO titles.
Duncker said he was "very hopeful'' Hayward will be appointed to NYRA's board of trustees. Hayward, Duncker, and Karches, in a Nov. 4 telephone conference with reporters, were vague about what steps NYRA would take to keep its franchise to operate Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga.
"The best thing that can happen for the state of New York is we run this company as best we can over the next year or two,'' Hayward said. If that happens, the state, which picks the franchise winner, would have a number of options, including retaining NYRA, he said.
Hayward was the head of the Form
for about four years. He left after the publication was sold to the Wicks Group. A resident of Manhattan and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and Thoroughbred owner for about 10 years, Hayward served served on the NYRA board from 1995 to 1999.