- James T. Madore, reporting in Newsday, writes that the ultimate decision on the racing franchise probably will be tied to the resolution of unrelated issues such as the overhaul of campaign finance laws, $200 million in property-tax rebates for seniors and $1 billion in building projects.
These issues and others have been in limbo since relations soured between Democrat Spitzer and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick), whom gubernatorial aides tried to discredit with negative publicity.And here it strikes me that with all the angst over the last few years over how racing's interests would be properly represented in the back rooms of Albany during this process, the fact is that one of the three men in the room of all back rooms, whatever we may otherwise think of him, is a professed enthusiast of the sport. Given the way this whole affair has played out, with the decision passing on to a new governor who seems particularly detached and disinterested in the sport, and given Bruno's present adversarial relationship with that governor, I find myself taking some comfort in his presence there. Suddenly, I find myself wishing that the federal investigation against him would take another few months or so to wrap up. (Notice I didn't go so far as to suggest that it be dropped.)
"At this point, in the run for the roses, we are not even in the back stretch," said Russ Haven of the New York Public Interest Research Group..."I expect the Legislature will have a completely independent take on this," Haven said.
Bruno, who raises horses on his farm near Albany, is passionate about racing. He's a regular at the Saratoga track.
"All I want, bottom line, is the best racing in the world here in New York State," Bruno said last month. "It's not about gambling or the ... [lottery terminals]. It's about having the best racing, best breeding and the best purses." [Newsday]
Is the Senator's enthusiasm for the sport genuine? Well, I dunno, maybe. He has horses and I saw him presenting in the winner's circle twice last week. But it doesn't even matter. Even if his embrace of the industry is all politics and he's merely appealing to his Saratoga Springs constituency, he still stands to defend its interests against anything the governor may propose. In fact, given the toxic atmosphere between the two, he'll go out of his way to do so. Already, the NY Daily News reports today that according to its sources, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have both indicated that Aqueduct's racing track will remain open.
- The Toddster spoke to the Albany Times-Union about his subpar meeting at Saratoga:
"The weakness has been in our maiden 2-year-old program, which is usually our strength....Some years you're going to have lean years in that category, and I guess that's the case. I guess if we can knock off the $500,000's we'll try to work on the $50 (thousands) later."