- Amid reports that the New York State Legislature and outgoing Gov Pataki might actually approve their bid during this week's special session, Excelsior Racing's Steve Swindal told Bloodhorse.com that "We're going full steam ahead."
Swindal said industry executives have already been approaching the group about getting involved in the management team, and he has increased his focus on what the group will do with the franchise once, as he believes, it goes to Excelsior. "We realize now it looks like it's for real, and we've got to gear up,'' he said.Swindal dismissed the withering criticism coming from Empire, and fired back at his rival's mixture of limited partners. "Anytime you have a conglomerate of people who own five to six percent of something, you tend to spend more time on something you own 100 percent of'' rather than the minority interest venture.
Actually, in the case of Empire investor Magna Entertainment, the fact that they would spend less time on New York racing may be considered a good thing.
Empire, in their latest desperate salvo, wrote a letter last week to the Ad Hoc Committee accusing Excelsior of not disclosing the presence of lobbyists on its team, claiming that the Request for Proposals required this.
Failure to disclose bidding team members or to report any lobbying to the lobbying commission would be "a ground for disqualification," said Jeff Perlee, chief executive of Empire.. [Albany Times Union]However, a spokesperson for the Ad Hoc Committee told the paper that they have "no reason to believe anything improper has occurred," and an Excelsior representative said:
"For Empire to challenge us on integrity is a huge mistake on Empire's part....Noting that there is no actual legislation "on the table," no one could be lobbying. "If Empire is going to challenge us on this, we're going to win again."For Empire's sake, there had better be something to their accusations. Thus far, their misleading and false propaganda has been apparent only to an intimate audience, or so it seems to this member of it. If these charges prove to be totally unfounded, then perhaps more people will pay attention and not take everything they say as fact.
In any event, all eyes will be on Albany to see if the legislature and lame duck Governor do in fact tackle the issue. When asked if he would approve legislation awarding the franchise to Excelsior, he said "We would take a look ... I don't see any reason why I would not at this point."
- NYRA returns to bankruptcy court on Friday. Jerry Bossert reports in the NY Daily News that the crucial ruling on whether they or the state own the land that the tracks sit on isn't expected for at least several more weeks.
- Interesting to read Steve Swindal's response to the question of admission prices at Saratoga. While Empire has committed to keeping the prices as they are for "at least" five years, Swindal would only go as far as to respond that the prices would be "as cheap and affordable as possible to the average fan." Hopefully, he's talking about racing fans and not Yankee fans.
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