NYRA to be Audited by Private Firm

A long-running feud between the New York Racing Association and state racing regulators ended Wednesday when a private accounting firm was given final approval to audit NYRA's books.

For three years, NYRA and the state Racing and Wagering Board could not agree on the terms for conducting the audit, which, by law, was required several years ago when NYRA had its franchise extended until 2007 to run three tracks in New York. But, in the aftermath of a sweeping federal and state criminal investigation underway at NYRA, and the new reign of NYRA Chairman Barry Schwartz, the dispute ended Wednesday with the appointment by racing regulators of Arthur Anderson as the NYRA auditor.

Still to be officially resolved is the racing board's insistence of a separate audit of NYRA's mutuel department, a focus of the investigation by state and federal authorities. "It's a very good sign,'' racing board chairman Michael Hoblock of the end of the audit dispute with NYRA. The annual audit was ordered in 1997 by the state Legislature and Governor George Pataki after a stinging probe by state officials of NYRA's handling of contracts and other financial matters.

The approval ends decades of audit work for NYRA by Ernst & Young. The company did an audit of NYRA last year that racing board officials have said failed to meet the guidelines of what the state wanted examined in the financial look at NYRA's books.

"We wanted to take a fresh look considering everything that's happened in the last couple years and with the transition in management. There was nothing wrong with Ernst & Young. We felt they did a good job,'' said NYRA President Terry Meyocks.

The agreement on the audit comes as NYRA is clearly trying to mend some fences at the Capitol with the Pataki administration. NYRA is among the bidders trying to purchase the New York City Off-Track Betting Corp; such a purchase would like require some approval process from Albany.