ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Racing Association on Friday fired two top executives as the state investigates why $8.5 million in winnings wasn't paid to bettors.
CEO Charles Hayward and senior vice president and general counsel Patrick Kehoe were dismissed after being suspended this week, the NYRA board of directors said. Hayward was paid $475,000 annually and Kehoe was paid $423,000 by the private entity that holds the state franchise to run thoroughbred racing at the Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga tracks.
NYRA board Chairman C. Steven Duncker said the termination was effectively immediately. Duncker said Hayward and Kehoe "failed to perform their duties at a level required by the board."
Duncker said NYRA is cooperating with the state investigation. The NYRA put Hayward and Kehoe on unpaid leave Tuesday when the report was released by the state Franchise Oversight Board, which oversees the NYRA.
A state report said the NYRA knew it shortchanged bettors by extracting inaccurate "take out rates" from winnings and still did nothing about it. NYRA disputes that claim.
Hayward had said the lapse was an inadvertent error.
The report also said the NYRA tried to keep the information from the public and persuade a Daily Racing Form columnist to keep the information out of the newspaper, a charge the columnist denies.
The probe comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo seeks to expand gambling and allow a casino developer to build the nation's largest convention center at Aqueduct. He has also proposed a state commission to oversee all gambling statewide.
Hayward and Kehoe had no immediate comment.
The announcement came the day before thoroughbred racing's biggest single event, the Kentucky Derby. It's the first leg of the Triple Crown, which includes the Belmont Stakes.