NYRA complying with comptroller’s subpoena

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Racing Association, which says it may need more taxpayer money to ensure the Belmont Stakes goes off as planned, said Wednesday it will open its books to the scrutiny of state auditors.

The nonprofit corporation, which oversees racing at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga, said last month that New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli lacked authority to audit it. But on Wednesday, it said it would comply with DiNapoli’s subpoenas for its financial records.

Following legislation enacted in 2008, the New York Racing Association was reorganized as a not-for-profit corporation and awarded a new 25-year franchise to operate the state’s thoroughbred racetracks.

The association’s president, Charles Hayward, has said it may need $30 million more in state money to preserve the racing season at Belmont — including the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown — unless video lottery terminals are up and running soon at the Aqueduct track in Queens.

DiNapoli expressed skepticism last month, noting that the association went from financially stable to needing video lottery money in the span of six months.

“In 2008, taxpayers paid for a second chance for NYRA,” DiNapoli said Wednesday. “NYRA then turned around and thumbed its nose at those same taxpayers and refused to open its books to my auditors. … Fortunately, NYRA had a change of heart in response to my subpoenas. New Yorkers have a right to know what NYRA’s up to, and my audit will let them know.”

Association spokesman Dan Silver declined to comment, except to say that the group would comply with the subpoenas.

The comptroller’s office has a meeting planned with NYRA this month to discuss the audit, DiNapoli spokeswoman Jennifer Freeman said. It will include the $105 million the state gave NYRA in 2008, monies owed the state, and its operation since it reorganized, she said.

Among other documents, the subpoenas sought betting records; revenues from simulcasting fees at off-track betting parlors, racetracks and other sources; concession revenues; plus payrolls, contracts and other expenses.