- The NY Daily News is reporting exclusively this morning on the first comments by Governor Spitzer directly acknowledging that he is seriously considering the closure of Aqueduct.
"Whether or not you have racing at Aqueduct, you have an enormous piece of land there that can and should be used for some other things," Spitzer told the Daily News Editorial Board. "That's a remarkably valuable piece of land from a public perspective."(For a guy who's supposed to be so smart, Spitzer sometimes comes off as not being that articulate, doesn't he? Especially when he's talking about things he knows nothing about. I don't think you "confront" options; rather you "consider" them.) An anonymous "expert" told the News that the land could fetch up to $1 billion due to its location, and that is obviously what the governor is thinking. Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer expressed her concern and that of the neighborhood.
"You may decide you want to make it a park. Okay, that's one option....You may decide it should be a convention center. You may decide it should be some combination of all sorts of obvious things. But some way, those options need to be confronted."
"But it seems like no one is listening because they must have this preconceived plan to bring in developers to take it over. All we hear is that it's a valuable piece of real estate."Spitzer also told the paper that he may seek a new set of bids for the franchise. Charles Hayward, however, says that he's hopeful that NYRA will retain at least the racing portion of the franchise.
"We are hoping to get with the Governor's people now that things have settled down with the legislative session ending. But I'm optimistic with the way things are headed." [Capital News 9]Perhaps Hayward should tell the governor that there's no deal unless Aqueduct remains open. Why would he be in position to do so? Because I don't think the governor really has any desire nor intention of re-opening the bidding, and just wants to get VLT money rolling in as soon as possible - remember, his 2008 budget includes racino money from the Big A. Retaining NYRA and disposing of the land claim issue is the easiest way for him to do so. Since NYRA is a non-profit which doesn't stand to be enriched by slots, if Hayward's goal is really to do whatever is necessary for the good of the sport in New York, as stated, I think that, knowing how ludicrous the idea of year-round racing at Belmont is, he should go to the mat with the clueless governor on this issue.
Patrons at Saratoga can expect $1.2 million worth of improvements paid for by a loan from the state; they include a new floor on the first floor clubhouse and five renovated barns around the Oklahoma training track. In addition, the track will host early morning maniac wagering starting at 7 A.M for those interested in playing the ponies from the U.K.
- 30 days for Victor Molina for kicking a horse, and getting caught doing it on TVG. The latter part of that is likely the reason for the length of the suspension.
"There's not many guys who have been around 27 years and have not had a hearing with the stewards over anything of substance," said Molina's agent, Dave Yannuzzi. "I thought this was overkill. If you look at all the punishments doled out for this type of infraction, [a judge] might say, 'Why did you get this and everybody else got that?'"Molina said he may volunteer with the SPCA during his time away.
A phone call to track officials was not returned. Stewards have been told by the Pennsylvania Racing Commission never to comment about anything. [Philadelphia Daily News]