- Green Mtn Punter says of the leak that brought the FBI investigation of Senator Bruno to light: wonder if it just may be a NYRA or Excelsior source now that the franchise issue is going hardball? And that's some interesting speculation! You may recall that I posted about Howard Wolfson being on the Excelsior team. Again, Wolfson is a serious political operative, a top advisor to Hilary Clinton, and a man known for employing tough tactics.
It does seem to be quite a coincidence, doesn't it, that word of an investigation involving Bruno and a key figure from Empire that has been going on since April would suddenly emerge at this time. Suddenly, we're no longer reading about Eliot Spitzer flying around on Richard Fields' plane, are we? All very convenient. Of course, we don't know if Wolfson played a role; but it may be worth noting that the recent profile in the NY Times profile compared Wolfson to Karl Rove, and adds that Rove is a man whose skills Mr. Wolfson admits to admiring. And just how deviously Rovian of a move would this be?
Wolfson is also acting as the spokesperson for Richard Fields in the matter of the latter's bid to buy a significant stake in Suffolk Downs.
Fields is betting he can revive the track and someday even hit the ultimate jackpot - a green light from Beacon Hill lawmakers for slot machines, insiders say. [Boston Herald]I would imagine that, given the uncertain state of the track, Fields would be in a good position to negotiate a price that would make the gamble worthwhile. Whatsmore, the deal would include hundreds of acres of developable land, much of it tucked within Boston’s borders.
The upside in casinos is certainly high, and two private equity firms, Texas Pacific Group and Apollo Management Group, have purchased Harrah's for $17.1 billion. But the buyers will be borrowing so much of that sum, that the company's debt load will nearly double and its priority will shift to paying it down instead of reinvesting in growth. [Associated Press]
Analyst David Katz with CIBC World Markets said property sales would need to be considered to reduce debt. The Rio casino-hotel in Las Vegas and Showboat in Atlantic City are prime sell-off candidates because they fall outside core brands Harrah's, Horseshoe, Bally's and Caesars, he said.Imagine when the money men at Texas Pacific and Apollo Management are assessing the various properites, and they're like, 'Caesar's Palace...Paris Las Vegas...Showboat Atlantic City,' and then they come to this tiny speck on the sheet called harness racing at Chester Downs.
"The next issue for us is to figure out which properties they may or may not want to sell and how does the math pencil out?" he said.
'What the hell is this? What do we need this piddling crap for?'
For now, it's just the cost of doing business. But how long before the slot machines have been augmented by table games, and Texas Pacific and Mohegan Sun and Penn National and Oaktree Capital have their lobbyists up in Harrisburg going, "Hey! What do we need this lousy horse racing for? Money that could be going towards property tax relief is subsidizing a money loser. And besides, we had to go through the most stringent scrutiny imaginable to qualify for a license, and here you're making us subsidize this sport in which top trainers are caught cheating with drugs! Can't we get rid of this?"
- Excellent job by Matt Hegarty getting the scoop on the banned jockeys in Florida...or on some of it anyway. The fact that Rene Douglas doesn't appear to be involved in the Great Lakes Downs race lends some plausibility to the whispers reported here by Walter and Brad regarding his being a whistleblower.
In any event, all I have to say is: that's it?? One - maybe two - races at Great Lakes Downs? In which only one of the banned riders even participated? With all the intrigue of the unexplained bans reaching to both coasts of the Sunshine State, I thought it was going to be a biggie. Maybe even a sleeper cell. Instead, it could turn out to be a sleeper. We'll have to wait and see.