NYRA Hires Gulfstream Park Executive

The New York Racing Association, apparently seeking to cover its bases in its fight to block the sale of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. to a consortium headed by Magna Entertainment, has lured away a top executive from a Magna-owned racetrack.

David Romanik, whose title at Gulfstream Park has included president and chief counsel, has joined NYRA as a consultant, NYRA president Terry Meyocks said.

At the state capital, where the NYCOTB sale faces an uphill battle, insiders speculated that NYRA hired Romanik to assist in its bid to block the sale, which was already in trouble. It has been placed in further doubt since the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in lower Manhattan.

Meyocks said the hiring of Romanik, whom he has known for years from his days on the Florida racing circuit, was based on his expertise "on various issues." Meyocks said Romanik could advise NYRA on hearings that had been scheduled by the state Senate into the proposed sale of NYCOTB to Magna.

NYRA and Magna have been engaged in a fierce public relations war over who would make a better owner of NYCOTB.

The Senate hearings, which some NYRA backers saw as a delaying tactic designed to halt the sale, have now been postponed indefinitely, said Jacqueline Fiore, a spokeswoman for Senate Racing Committee chairman William Larkin. She said the World Trade Center attack has placed the hearings onto the back burner.

When asked if Romanik's hiring was more than a coincidence given the timing of the Magna bid to buy NYCOTB, Meyocks insisted the longtime Florida racing executive will handle a range of legal activities for NYRA. He said Romanik's contract is temporary "as of right now."