Earlier this week I wrote that NYRA’s President and Chief Executive Officer had reversed a significant reform implemented after the Report of the Task Force on Racehorse Health and Safety was released over a year ago. The Task Force recommended that NYRA’s veterinarians should report to a separate state agency – the Gaming Commission – or, if that was not feasible, to the stewards. The panel had identified the NYRA practice of the vets reporting to the Racing Office as a “critical conflict of interest” that “must be changed immediately.” The conflict arose from the differing objectives of the Veterinary Department and the Racing Office. The former was responsible for ensuring the safety of horses entered to race so that only sound horses are allowed to run. The Racing Office, by contrast, had a major focus of providing large fields for bettors, because large fields meant an increase in the wagering handle – and more revenue for NYRA.
In October, 2012, NYRA had changed the reporting relationship so that the Veterinary Department would report to the stewards. CEO Christopher Kay had decided to change this relationship when the new Senior Vice-President of Racing started later this month, with the vets once again reporting to the racing operation, thereby reviving the “unacceptable conflict of interest” identified by the Task Force.
NYRA’s spokesperson has informed me that NYRA will not change the reporting relationship, so that the veterinarians will continue to report to the stewards, and “will not report to the incoming Senior VP for any purpose.”