- NYRA’s cash flow problems have caught the attention of the Breeders’ Cup, who as you know will be conducting the 2005 World Championships at Belmont on October 29 ("At this point, we're planning on moving ahead with our plans for Belmont." [Bloodhorse]), as well as of New York Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. The Republican State Senator has called for a new operator to take over the NYRA tracks within six months.
"Every week the news goes from bad to worse regarding NYRA and it's stewardship of the racing industry in New York State,'' Bruno said. "NYRA's financial problems have raised very serious concerns about the organization and we need to move forward as soon as possible with selection process to find a new franchise to avoid jeopardizing the future of racing in New York.''Our friend Bennett Liebman of the Albany Racing and Wagering Program told Bloodhorse that the state does indeed have the power to terminate the franchise, and presented two possible scenarios:
"The current NYRA management is doing the best they can with the problems they inherited, but they understand they need new opportunities and a new structure. However, if NYRA's problems continue, then we should consider the possibility of a takeover by the racing oversight board." [Bloodhorse]
The state Racing and Wagering Board, which regulates gambling ventures in the state, could revoke its franchise. The new NYRA oversight board could theoretically foreclose on NYRA. The new panel took over the powers of the former Thoroughbred Capital Investment Fund, to which NYRA owes tens of millions of dollars. The CIF agency, Liebman said, has held a mortgage on Aqueduct, making it possible for the oversight board, created just this year, to foreclose on the property.Bruno has defended NYRA in the past; in 1997 he helped pass the current agreement that extended the franchise through the end of 2007. However, as one of the three men that ultimately decides on virtually everything that happens in the state, to me, he must accept more than a little responsibility for NYRA’s current plight. Just the fact that the laws are such that NYC Off-Track Betting could be helping to block the institution of a rebate system for NYRA tells you how dysfunctional the current arrangement is. As Jerry Bossert writes in the Daily News today, that is a crime.
With Belmont unable to accommodate winter racing, "Basically, NYRA would have no place to race,'' he said.
One way Albany could help racing is by changing how the off track betting system is set up in the state so it helps the game and doesn't compete against it.The OTBs in the state have been a thorn in the side of NYRA for years, and whose fault is that? For Bruno to now be advocating a new franchise operator seems somewhat akin to Donald Rumsfeld calling for new generals to wage his botched war effort.
- I want some of this action!
British bookmaker William Hill has issued an update of its initial offering of Breeders' Cup futures. Only five of eight races are on the William Hill Board, however.Are you kidding me? 8-1 on Rock Hard Ten? I would put my money down on that right now, where do I sign up?
Saint Liam is the 7-4 favorite to win the Classic, and Borrego, winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Saturday, is 7-2 and Goodwood winner Rock Hard Ten is 8-1. Hurricane Run, winner of the Arc de Triomphe on Sunday, is the 2-1 favorite to win the Turf. Undefeated Shakespeare, winner of the Turf Classic, is 7-1. [Newsday]
- Magna tweaked their proposal to cut racing days in Maryland, but just a bit, adding back 17 days from the original proposal. The new plan calls for 129 days of racing, including 26 at Pimlico [up from 18], and resumes racing in October at Laurel instead of November in order to further use the new, $20 million turf course. [Baltimore Sun] Yeah, good idea. Magna wants to cut back to four days a week from Jan 1 until Belmont Day 2006, when an agreement with the horsemen to conduct racing regularly expires; the horsemen believe the agreement calls for five cards weekly.
- The Massachusetts Senate votes on allowing slots at the state’s racetracks today, but even if it passes, the outlook in the House is grim and besides, Governor Mitt Romney has promised to veto the bill, which would require an unlikely 2/3rds override in both houses.
Representative Daniel E. Bosley is one of the leading opponents of expanded gambling, and he’s a Democrat. The Governor is a Republican, and how the GOP could win the state house in Massachusetts is almost as ponderous as how they’ve come to dominate New York’s City Hall over the last decade. But once again, it shows how the issue of expanded gambling seems to obliterate party lines – Democrats, Republicans...in each state they seem to fall on either side of the issue. Check out Railbird for more info on the situation in Massachussets.
- Hockey is back, and I'm still stunned by the Rangers' comeback win in Philly last night! If you're so inclined, I'll be checking in with a couple of comments on each of their games on The Rangers Game Log, at least until the losses start to pile up and I get sick of it. Just hockey, no snide political asides; I save that for you, my more sophisticated crowd.