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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Empire Wants A Refund

- I have a new post up at the Breeders' Cup site regarding last Saturday's stakes at Belmont. And it's Breeders' Cup, always with the apostrophe....and NEVER 'BC'! And I'm told that the site will begin accepting moderated questions at some point soon....though feel free to comment here. Going forward, most of my comments on any races that are considered to be BC Breeders' Cup preps will take place over there.

Also, the New York State Senate is conducting their committee hearing on Spitzer's franchise proposal today. Thanks to reader Late Scratch for attempting to post that link to the live video. That just doesn't seem to work in the Blogger comment section. The working link is here.

Empire Racing just refuses to slink away quietly. The New York Times reports today that the group is threatening to sue Thacher Associates with respect to the report that the investigative firm did on Empire's transformation from Friends of New York for the state's Integrity Report. Empire claims there was a conflict of interest because one of Thacher's staff members worked at Getnick and Getnick from 2002-2005; that partly covers the period during which Getnick served as NYRA's federal monitor. Empire basically wants their money back - they paid for the $1.1 million cost of the review. In addition to this supposed conflict, Perlee claims that the report contained more than a dozen factual errors.

“Only in the section on Empire were readers treated to unchecked facts, competitors’ gossip and opinions passing as definitive information and editorial conclusions that are properly the province of the governor and legislative leaders,” he wrote. [NYT]
Empire has spoken of errors and omissions in the report before, and we'd certainly love to hear from them to find out exactly what they are.

For his part, Thomas D. Thacher II denied that the presence of the employee constituted a conflict.
“Mark Malone came to work for Thacher Associates well before there was any engagement by the inspector general to do the integrity review.."

He also said Mr. Malone’s past work for Getnick & Getnick could not constitute a conflict because during the monitoring period, the law firm reported to law enforcement and court officials and the state comptroller, not to the racing association.
Indeed, compared to the myriad of conflicts that we've seen on the part of the bidders and the governor himself, this certainly seems rather mild. However, the Inspector General did, “in the interest of fairness,” issue a revised version of Thacher's report (in addition to revisions of some sections dealing with other bidders).

That revised report is now available on the Inspector General's website (large PDF document)...and an accompanying document advises us that there have been revisions throughout Thacher's report. This document has replaced the original one, so I can't do a line by line comparison. But I invite you to read it (it runs from pages 62-74) and compare it my original post on the report. I'm not going to repeat all of the main points here, but I think you'll find that many if not most of the damaging claims remain intact.

One change I did notice though is the deletion of the snide original concluding remark, which referred to a supposed quote by Tim Smith that he won't be the fall guy, and said: 'In time it may become clear what Smith was talking about.' Instead, the report concludes thusly:
It is important to note that many of the individuals interviewed in connection with TA's investigation into the history of FNYR and the formation of Empire have a vested interest in assuring that Empire is not awarded the NY racing franchise. However, our findings indicate that, if no other definitive conclusions can be reached regarding the true genesis of Empire, it appears clear that Tim Smith was, contrary to his and Empire's published denials, a critical part of the company's formation. Why Smith and Empire chose to mask Smith's involvement in the venture remains unclear.


Anonymous said...

I was flipping thru the high numbered cable channels last night and came across a show HGTV called "take home chef" Just so happens the chef picked up a gal at the Whole foods named "jill" and went to her house to cook an evening supper. Guess what, it was Jill Baffert and boy do they have a nice house located close to Santa Anita. My headchef was sure envious of their Kitchen. Thought your wife might get a kick out of that Alan. Byanose

Alan Mann said...

Byanose - Thanks for that. Funny, my Head Chef watches HGTV constantly, but I'm not familiar with that one. I'll have to point it out to her.

Anonymous said...

Excellent second Breeders' Cup post on the three stakes from Belmont this weekend. I have two observations: The first is on Missvinksi...what a pig she was! I was competing in the Arlington Park NTRA/DRF Handicapping Tournament and thought, "Wow...this is the definition of value that one would look for when using an optional selection in a tournament!" A top class filly, at 12-1 (when I bet her), who appears ready to get a golden trip. Imagine my surprise when she did get the trip and had NOTHING left in the tank. Pitiful.

Now, on Sunriver. When did this horse become a one-dimensional speedball? His come from behind victory in the Peter Pan last year when he overcame a slow pace and a decent horse (Lewis Michael) put him on the map for me. Of course, I tore that map up when he lost to Jazil in the Belmont with my money on his nose.

Anyway, all we've heard are applause for the Pletcher barn for their ability to get Lawyer Ron to relax, but then they have Sunriver turn into a need-the-lead type. Are we sure they just didn't switch horses?

You are correct in saying that Sunriver is a potential BC winner...ahem...Breeders' Cup winner (I hated their anal attitude about that when I was a writer at an esteemed New Jersey-based racing publication). But the geniuses at the Pletcher barn who got Lawyer Ron to relax need to work some of their magic on old Sunny boy. It shouldn't be too tough.

Of course, I'm hoping Zambezi Sun comes from France and dusts them all, so my BC Turf future ticket at 30-1 is good.

Anonymous said...

I love that show and will look for that episode. the chef is a real
cutie pie. I dont believe it was RANDOM that Mrs. B was chossen in the
supermarket. I have often wondered if the show was a set-up. hmmmm.

Jim L said...

Alan, Do you remember Stunt Man at the Spa?

That was the horse Pletcher was eyeing in the paddock, according to the Head Chef's report.

Looks like Stunt Man has overtaken Commentator as the NY bred that gets the mile.