The state’s Franchise Oversight Board, which oversees the New York Racing Association, has released its annual report for 2011.

NYRA is a nonprofit corporation that operates the Saratoga, Aqueduct and Belmont thoroughbred tracks under a franchise agreement with the state. It has held the franchise since 1955, and holds the franchise to conduct racing at those facilities through 2033. Legislation that the governor is expected to sign soon will establish a “re-organization board” – to be controlled by the governor – to run NYRA for the next three years while restructuring it.

The report urges NYRA to end its reliance on video lottery terminal subsidies, and to “develop a comprehensive and innovative plan to increase handle and grow fan interest in the sport.”

Gov. Cuomo has his work cut out for him in terms of fixing NYRA, which has been steeped in controversy for years, and it continues to lose money.  The horse racing industry also supports Upstate’s farmers and horse breeders, and we need it to be healthy. Let’s hope that the governor and his appointees can turn NYRA into a contributor to the state’s economy.