- Here's the first indication that Empire Racing's decision to take on an array of corporate partners from outside the state hurt its bid with the state committee that has recommended Excelsior for the NY racing franchise. Saratoga mayor Valerie Keehn, a member of the committee, told the local Channel 9 news that some on the committee worried about Empire's size.
Empire's stakeholders include track and gaming operators Churchill Downs, Magna and Delaware North.Empire felt that the recommendation of the New York Thoroughbred Horseman's Association would obscure the out-of-state investors and give the company a New York flavor. But it just may have been the questionable decision to include Magna that particularly sabotaged that strategy. Magna, awash in debt, has become a universal symbol of incompetence in the industry, especially after the overwhelmingly negative reviews of the rebuilt Gulfstream Park, and their inclusion invited derision right from the very start. I would guess that's one call that Empire CEO Jeff Perlee would like to have back.
Jerry Bilinski of Excelsior Racing Associates said, "That is our focus, New York. We want New York people running New York racing."