- Tom Precious, who broke the story regarding the possible closure of Aqueduct for Bloodhorse.com, reports that Gov Spitzer told a group of legislative leaders regarding the franchise decision: “We’ll wait and see until after the Travers." And so the beat goes on. Whatever there is to be said about the Pataki Administration, it at least had a formal and sensible procedure in place to determine the next franchise holder, even if it was flawed. This governor, as far as I'm concerned, has pissed away taxpayer money by totally trashing that process and conducting the public circus hearings in April that have obviously yielded no conclusion. He is spitting at the industry and those whose livelihoods depend on it (and especially to those who live and work in the dilapidated conditions on the backstretch.). He has shown no interest whatsoever in an in depth examination of the issues most important to the industry, and has made it quite clear that it is near the bottom of his list of priorities. Instead of trying to build the sport up, Spitzer is seeking to strip it down in a way that provides the most dollars to the state, without any concern for the sport, the horsemen, nor the fans who pump millions of dollars into the state coffers each year. He is no friend of racing, and if he deigns to show his face at the Belmont on Saturday, the fans in attendance should let him know how they feel by steamrolling him with boos and catcalls (for whatever good that will do).
The article also reports that Spitzer has summoned the four bidders to a meeting in Manhattan on Friday (one day before NYRA's biggest day of the year), to meet with his counsel Richard Rifkin. Not surprisingly, Spitzer has no immediate plans to attend.
The bidding groups -– the New York Racing Association, Empire Racing Associates, Excelsior Racing Associates and Capital Play –- were not told details of the meeting’s agenda beyond that it will involve the administration’s ideas for the future of the franchise.We can perhaps expect that afterwards, Empire will issue a press release accusing all the bidders of collusion, and calling for the disqualification of each and every one, including themselves, as well as the Governor. Then maybe we can instead enlist some people who genuinely care about the sport, and who realize just how precarious the industry's position in the state presently is - with the franchise process in total disarray, a dysfunctional and lecherous OTB corporation firmly entrenched in place, and with the VLT's that were supposed to save the sport already sputtering months (years?) before they finally come - to help lead us out of the chaos and confusion that he has gone a long way towards creating.
- John Lee, the director of communications and media relations at NYRA, told the NY Post that the presence of Rags to Riches would increase attendance by 10,000 or more. "She gave us a tremendous boost and jazzes up the event considerably," Lee said. "More media attention means more fans through the gates. Anyone on the fence (about coming to the Belmont), this puts them in our direction.'' I of course wrote just yesterday that her presence wouldn't affect attendance much at all. I figure that those who, with no Crown on the line, were going to come to enjoy a gorgeous day at a beautiful track to watch a spectacular day of racing will do so no matter what. I hope I'm wrong.