NYRA announces creation of All-Weather Surfaces Committee
Feb 14, 2024
News Image
NYRA Photo

NYRA announces creation of All-Weather Surfaces Committee

by Pat McKenna

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced the formation of an All-Weather Surfaces Committee to evaluate the impact of various racing surfaces on equine injury rates. In addition to the analysis of safety metrics from tracks utilizing all-weather racing surfaces, the committee is studying the feasibility of broader adoption of all-weather surfaces nationally.

The Committee is chaired by NYRA CEO and President David O'Rourke, who convened a group of leaders at the request of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), as part of HISA’s strategic response to several clusters of equine fatalities in 2023.

NYRA is in the process of constructing a one-mile Tapeta track to serve as the fourth racing surface at the new Belmont Park. Previously, NYRA installed a Tapeta pony track at Belmont to provide an additional training option in inclement weather while also providing NYRA with information on the performance of a synthetic surface in the Long Island climate.

“Embracing science and technology will ensure the continued success of thoroughbred racing in the United States,” said O’Rourke. “All-weather racing surfaces can play an important role in our collective efforts to improve safety, and I thank Lisa Lazarus and HISA for the opportunity to advance this discussion among decision makers in the sport.”

The Committee first met in October 2023 and will convene regularly in the coming months. The Committee’s findings and recommendations will be shared with HISA’s Racetrack Safety Committee and with other stakeholders across the sport when complete.

“HISA is grateful to NYRA and to David O’Rourke for leading this effort, and to all the members of the Committee for their dedication to equine safety,” said HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus. “This committee’s work will be essential in deepening our understanding of all-weather surfaces, and we look forward to reviewing the results when complete.”

Members of the Committee include:

David O'Rourke, CEO and President, NYRA, Committee Chair

O’Rourke was named NYRA President and CEO in 2019. During his tenure, O’Rourke has played a signature role in spearheading the development and growth of NYRA Bets, NYRA’s ADW platform available nationwide. In addition, he has ushered in the dramatic expansion of NYRA’s flagship television broadcasts, Saratoga Live and America’s Day at the Races, which provide national coverage of NYRA racing on the FOX Sports family of networks. O’Rourke is a member of The Jockey Club and serves on the board of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of America, and the Management Committee of Equibase Company. He is a board director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC), and serves on the RMTC Executive Committee and Finance Committees.

Gatewood Bell, Vice President of Racing, Keeneland

Bell joined Keeneland in 2021 and serves as Vice President of Racing. Bell founded Cromwell Bloodstock, a full-service bloodstock agency and consulting firm, and was its president for a decade. He is a member of the Breeders’ Cup and The Jockey Club and previously served on the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and as the U.S. representative for Goffs Sales of Ireland.

Drew Fleming, President and CEO, Breeders’ Cup Limited

Drew Fleming is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Breeders’ Cup Limited. He spearheads strategic planning, industry policy, and the general day-to-day operations of the company, including host track relations, long-term planning and business growth, finance, sponsorships, marketing, and legal. He also works extensively to better position both the Breeders’ Cup and the Thoroughbred industry for future success.

In addition to his position on the Breeders’ Cup Board of Directors, which is comprised of the most prominent and influential Thoroughbred owners from around the globe, Drew serves on the Board and Executive Council of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, dedicating his time to international coordination and global unification of the sport. He is also a Board member of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Chair of its Governance Committee.

Craig Fravel, Executive Vice Chairman, 1/ST RACING and GAMING

Fravel was named Executive Vice Chairman of 1/ST RACING and GAMING in 2022. He oversees critical and strategic matters for the company, including national communications and public relations, governmental and industry stakeholder relations, and is responsible for day-to-day racing and training operations at 1/ST RACING tracks and training centers. Prior to 1/ST, Fravel served as President and CEO of the Breeders’ Cup from 2011 to 2019 and spent more than two decades at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club prior to that. Fravel has served on the board of the National Racing and Medication Testing Consortium, the Permanently Disabled Jockey’s Fund, the Southern California Equine Foundation, the Dolly Green Research Foundation, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. He is a member of The Jockey Club and served on its Board of Stewards from 2011 to 2015.

Josh Rubinstein, President, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Rubinstein was named President of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in 2018 and has worked at Del Mar since 1997. Rubinstein serves on the Equibase Management Committee, as a director and secretary of the Thoroughbred Racing Association and as a board member of both the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation and the Southern California Off-Track Wagering Association. He is also a part of California’s Stabling & Vanning Committee and the Thoroughbred Business League.

All News Stakes Advance Stakes Recap Headlines Notes Features

More Headlines