November 30, 2020

McClain resigns during NYRA board meeting

Last updated: 1/25/13 9:18 PM

Ellen McClain was honored as
one of the “25 Influential Black Women in Business” by TNJ in 2012

(NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

The New York Racing Association (NYRA) board of
directors approved its three-year work plan, focused on equine safety, and
formally began its search for a new president and CEO for the organization
during its second meeting on Friday.

Early in the meeting, NYRA’s current president and chief
operating officer, Ellen McClain, announced her resignation. McClain will stay
on through at least March 31 as NYRA searches for and begins its transition to a
new president and CEO. Board members Bobby Flay, Stuart Janney, Earle Mack and
Jane Rosenthal will serve on the executive search committee, which will be
chaired by Skorton.

“Ellen McClain has been extremely helpful since my
appointment in educating me about NYRA as an organization and helping this board
begin its work,” Chair David Skorton said. “Establishing stable, long-term leadership at NYRA is another critical part of our mission and we take that task very

Meeting in Manhattan, the board addressed a series of
recently proposed equine safety initiatives, including reducing the number of
race days per week during the inner-track meet at Aqueduct, forming a
search committee for the Equine Veterinary Medical Director, and establishing a
mortality review board for NYRA. There was discussion of the merits of
installing a synthetic surface on the inner track and that issue will continue
to be explored by the board.

“The safety of the equine and human athletes competing at
NYRA’s tracks is a top priority for this board,” Skorton remarked.
“Today, we took important steps forward, guided by recommendations from the
Equine Health and Safety Committee. I thank Dr. Michael Kotlikoff, dean of the
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and Special Advisor to the
board for Equine Health and Safety, and committee chairman Anthony Bonomo for
their leadership on this issue. We will soon begin the search process for the
new Equine Veterinary Medical Director position announced last week.”

Also on Friday, the board established a three-year work
plan and formally approved NYRA’s 2013 operating and capital budget.

In total, on Friday the board:

  • Voted to authorize NYRA to seek a reduction in race days
    for the inner-track meet at Aqueduct, including seeking approval for legislative
    changes essential to that reduction
  • Voted to form a search committee to fill the position of
    Equine Veterinary Medical Director for NYRA
  • Voted to authorize the establishment and organization of NYRA’s
    Mortality Review Board
  • Established a three-year-work plan for the board with
    eight major goals:

  • Establish, oversee and support an optimal management structure and
    leadership for NYRA
  • Implement best practices to protect equine health and
  • Optimize the racing experience for NYRA customers
  • Enhance quality of Thoroughbred racing at NYRA tracks to
    maintain NYRA’s traditional position of national leadership
  • Judiciously employ new technologies to the benefit of the
    wagering public
  • Optimize NYRA relations with its host communities, racing
    organizations and relevant governmental entities within New York State
  • Ensure that NYRA’s operations provide a safe working
    environment for its employees and support vibrant local and state-wide economies
  • Prepare NYRA for re-privatization

  • Approved NYRA’s 2013 operating and capital budget
  • Approved a schedule for remaining 2013 board meetings
    which calls for meetings on February 27, May 15, August 28 and December 4
  • Designated a records access officer and records access
    appeals officer for NYRA

  • All materials discussed and reviewed during the board’s
    meetings, replays of past meetings, and a list of board members are available by

    The NYRA board consists of 17
    directors — eight appointed by Governor Cuomo, two directors each appointed by
    the Senate and Assembly and five directors appointed by the former NYRA board.
    Breeders and Horsemen each have an ex officio member. The NYRA board is in
    effect for three years, following which NYRA will revert back to majority private
    control. Seven of the appointees are new to the NYRA board, and bring experience
    from the entertainment, finance and legal fields in addition to horse racing.

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