- The word “embattled” is defined as beset with attackers or controversy or conflict. Or, in other words, NYRA. Things were looking up in late August when the association escaped federal prosecution and received praise from their federal monitor for the reforms they implemented and the unprecedented steps taken against illegal medication. But since then, they announced sizeable financial losses for the last two years and saw two employees indicted and several jockeys implicated in the Weightgate affair (for which they have been criticized for their own role in allowing the supposed infractions to continue during the investigation). With yesterday’s revelations that they are quickly running out of cash, NYRA and their, yes, embattled CEO Charles Hayward have reached the crossroads.
The most frustrating thing to NYRA officials must be that relief – in a big way - is most definitely on the way in the form of the racino money that is expected to start fattening the coffers when slots come to the Big A. You're talking about 4,500 machines expected to take an average of $400 a day; you do the math. That, however, won’t be until the 2006 fall meeting, and when Hayward was asked ‘What's your life expectancy today?' by a member of the newly created NYRA oversight board, he replied, ominously: “The third week in November.”
On Saturday, NYRA took in $780,000 in gross revenue at Belmont Park but paid out $4 million in purses for the Jockey Club Gold Cup.A rebate program could allow NYRA to recoup some of the $10 million it’s lost since cutting off off-shore rebate shops earlier this year.
'Our contributions from wagering don't cover expenses,' he said.
He also outlined other strategies the firm needs to stay solvent, including a rewards program for race fans and account wagering, which allows people to place bets from home on their computers. Both practices are prohibited in New York but are allowed in neighboring states such as New Jersey.
'Money isn't leaking out of New York,' Hayward said. 'It's pouring out of New York in terms of account wagering.' [The Saratogian]
The association is trying to plug the gap by selling some parcels of land they claim to own near Aqueduct, but that strikes at the heart of the question of who actually owns the land that the tracks sit on, an issue that will become more and more contentious when and if the franchise is awarded to someone else. NYRA’s VP Bill Nader points out that NYRA has paid $450 million in taxes on [the Aqueduct parcels] since the agency was founded in 1955 - and $17.3 million this year. [NY Daily News]
However, the NYRA oversight board's chairwoman, Carole Stone, who listened to a pitch from Kehoe and Chief Executive Office Charles Hayward during her board's meeting Tuesday, said racing law requires approval of the deals by her board, the Racing & Wagering Board and the Legislature.NYRA is also looking to cut some employee benefits, and sell some equine artwork that could raise around $2 million. At least they don’t sound desperate or anything.
"The law required NYRA to get certain approvals if they are going to sell real property or other equipment and facilities," she said. "There is nothing they provided me to change that view." [Albany Times-Union]
- Lava Man is out of the BC Classic after finishing 45 lengths behind Borrego in the Gold Cup. Trainer Doug O’Neill said "He bled a 3 out of 5.” [DRF] Afleet Alex is a big maybe; he’ll work at Belmont on Friday, and Tim Ritchey will look for a race next weekend.
Two possibilities are the $200,000 Perryville Stakes at Keeneland for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs or the $100,000 Vincent A. Moscarelli Handicap at Delaware Park for 3-year-olds & up at six furlongs on Oct. 15. [Albany Times-Union]This anecdote reported in the Washington Post about an incident at this week’s Midlantic Eastern Fall Yearlings sale in Timonium sums up the mood in Maryland these days.
The auctioneer looked reluctant to hammer down his gavel on a flashy filly….but buyers had their hands down and no further prodding could raise a bid despite the apparent quality of the horse.
"That's why Maryland needs slots," the auctioneer grumbled dryly into his microphone as the filly was led away.