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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Flying Dutchman

- Don’t know if I’d place a wager on this horse if I saw him in the paddock, but NYRA is betting on this baby to bring in up to a half million or so when they auction off their art collection at Sotheby's on December 2. That money would buy them around two weeks of racing at an Aqueduct meet that has set new attendance lows. Apparently, only about 4,400 people see fit to make the trip out to the Big A these days, and that’s on weekends! And on nice, sunny weekends at that; what will happen when it actually gets cold? There were 4,401 people on Saturday, and 4,411 on Sunday so while at least there’s an uptrend there (though one of the additional ten people was me), the old joke about it being the same 4400 people every day is no longer funny.

The painting is of the 1849 Derby and St. Leger Stakes winner The Flying Dutchman, and it is by John Frederick Herring Sr., from between 1849 and 1851. According to the Sotheby’s website, it’s expected to draw bids of between $300-400,000. It’s the only one that’s slated to draw six figures, but NYRA is hoping that they’ll all add up to around a million bucks, good for a month’s worth of expenses. I like this one:

Perhaps if I had hit that Pick Four on Breeders’ Cup day…

However, according to the Albany Times-Union, the state’s oversight board is still threatening to veto the sale, as well as the sale of unused land that could bring $20 million that should get NYRA through to the Aqueduct slots that will save the day.

"We have stated that at the minimum they would need board approval to move forward with this," said Scott Reif, an oversight board spokesman. He said the board, which meets Friday in Colonie, is still assessing the situation.


State officials are discussing other options for NYRA, including settling two pending lawsuits, which doesn't appear likely to happen soon, and taking more money out of each bet, which NYRA doesn't want to do.

William Nader, a NYRA spokesman, said the auction is going forward. "We would prefer not to have to sell the art, but these are not ordinary times," he said. [Albany Times-Union]
It’s fitting that the state, which bears no small measure of responsibility for NYRA’s plight, would now move to prevent the association from fending off bankruptcy. The state is unlikely to yield on the land sale unless it gets some kind of understanding that it does not imply that NYRA has ownership of the rest of the land that its three tracks sit on.

Friends of New York Racing (FNYR) is today participating in a think tank sponsored by Albany Law School with the aim of crafting new racing legislation which hopefully will address the problems that have hampered NYRA, especially the issue of an outdated off-track betting system that cannibalizes the racing product that supports it. FNYR seems to be the only thing standing between a system such as the present one, developed by and for politicians, and one that is truly structured with the good of the game and its fans in mind. They’re facing an uphill battle, to be sure.


SantaBarbarian said...

Looks like they said "Neigh"

Alan Mann said...

Oh man. :-|