- We've heard this one before, but Charles Hayward told the Saratogian that NYRA is in talks with the Governor that he believes will lead to approval of the Aqueduct racino within 30 days. The difference is that he is now dealing with Eliot Spitzer, instead of the former Governor, who we believe, and as NYRA will try to prove in court, helped to drive the association into bankruptcy by stalling on the go-ahead for slots. Spitzer has already included anticipated revenues from the racino into his budget proposal, so there's ample reason to believe that this will finally get done, despite the fact that neither side is willing to back off of the pending court battle over the land. "We certainly aren't going to drop our land claim," Hayward told reporter Paul Post.
Hayward also said that he believes that Spitzer will approve a $50 million bailout to keep racing going for the rest of the year; the latest state loan will only keep them going through mid-March.
According to Hayward, state officials including Spitzer don't want NYRA to get financing from an outside party. GE Capital's financing would be secured by a mortgage on Belmont Park, potentially opening up all kinds of legal issues. Also, interest rates on a state loan are much less, 4 percent versus 10-15 percent.Once again, for an issue on which the state, along with many well-informed impartial observers, has so adamantly insisted is on their side, the land claim seems to be quite a powerful card that Hayward has played masterfully throughout this drama. Every time we get to the point where it looks as if the decision will fall to the judiciary, the state seems to back down. You just gotta wonder if the state will ever be willing to take the risk of an unfavorable ruling, and if NYRA will indeed be able to parlay the claim into at least a partial role in the future of racing in the state.