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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Slots Stalling Reeks

- It may be worth pointing out that as the state Lottery Division continues to hold up approval of NYRA's racino, the facility at Yonkers is up and running despite the fact that the track admitted to dumping raw sewage into the Bronx River in reaching a settlement with the state over the matter.

An investigation found the raceway has for years flushed human waste from several buildings into a storm sewer that feeds into the river instead of the city's municipal sanitary sewer. Investigators also found that horse manure was routinely flushed into storm sewers when workers cleaned stalls.

Testing done where the storm sewers empty into the river showed E. coli levels reaching from 110,000 to 500,000 bacteria per 100 milliliters of water. The normal range is 100 to 1,000.. [AP]
Whatsmore, the racino is open despite the fact that there is no racing, as we all thought was required by law. Nobody seems to be buying track president Tim Rooney's claim that racing would resume in a week or two. But since management technically has "continuing license rights" from when the track went dark in June 2005, the State Lottery Division gave the go-ahead for the casino to open. [NY Daily News]

- Meanwhile, Empire Racing sent a letter to Governor Pataki urging the release of the remainder of the bailout loan that NYRA needs to remain solvent through the end of the year. In a press release from Empire, its chairman Jeffrey Tucker wrote "I urge the State to take the appropriate measures that will keep our racetracks open until such time as a new, financially capable operator can be selected."

However, NYRA sees an agenda in Jeff Perlee's communique to the outgoing governor. "Our review of the relevant statutes concludes that an approved management agreement is not a statutory pre-condition of releasing additional state funds to keep racing solvent," he wrote. [Bloodhorse; and the usual excellent reporting job by Tom Precious] NYRA took that to mean that Empire is intimating that the state shouldn't necessarily sign off on the racino project in conjunction with releasing the funds, an assertion which Empire denied.
"Empire very much wants VLTs up and running. The issue here is can and should the state release money now while they continue to work around NYRA's problems. We believe they can and they should,'' said Bob Bellafiore, an Empire spokesman.
Empire's press release concludes with the usual "about Empire" paragraph, which explains that the company "represents the interests of the 6,000 owners, trainers, and farmers."

But according to David Grening in the Racing Form, some of those trainers have become disenchanted with the New York Thoroughbred Horseman's Association's endorsement of Empire.
"A lot of us don't feel the organization representing us should support an outside group that we don't know anything of, one, without consulting us, and two, when you've got management here which is still trying to make it every day," said trainer Christophe Clement. Let's try to get the VLT's [video lottery terminals]; let's try to help them first."
"Basically, they never asked me who I back," said trainer John Kimmel. "I think they're stepping across the boundary, with something as major as that, not to have some sort of general referendum amongst the people they represent to see where we stand. I guess they take it for granted since they're elected officials they represent everybody. I think with major issues such as who's going to run that franchise, it might be a little more involved."
The NYTHA board's decision had been characterized as being 'unanimous,' but board member Gary Contessa has since declared his support for Excelsior. The organization's vice-president Richard Violette admitted to the Form: "We did speak to a number of people and could have probably done a better job communicating things."

1 Comment:

t said...

Great coverage on a largely ignored topic. On one hand I can't believe that this is happening. How can they Yonkers be able to rake in cash with the slots while not racing? Yeah, it seems this is flat out illegal, or at least against the spirit of the legislation that afforded them the slots.