- New post up over at Breederscup.com
- Aides to Governor Spitzer vigorously defended the decision to award the franchise to NYRA in the second hearing conducted by the Senate's Racing, Gaming and Wagering committee.
Paul Francis, the director of the Division of the Budget, told the committee that the franchise extension and the administration's plan to contract out the license to operate a 4,500-slot machine casino at Aqueduct made the most fiscal sense to New York when compared to competing proposals put forward by other bidders.NYRA's land claim was, of course, also cited as a reason.
"In the end, the choice was clear," Francis said.
Both Francis and [Downstate Empire State Development Corporation chairman Patrick] Foye said that NYRA's structure as a non-profit would create the most benefit to New York racing. Foye also said that the prospect of fighting NYRA in court over who owns the racetracks could have led to a "catastrophic" result for horse racing if the litigation resulted in a temporary shutdown of racing in the state. [Daily Racing Form]
The officials also discussed the shortcomings of the other bidders - the lack of U.S. racing experience of Capital Play - who, in reality, never really had a shot in my thinking - and the fact that Excelsior seemed more interested in slots. The latter's continued interest is now unclear, though it's been unclear to this observer for some time. An Excelsior spokesperson said that it did not intend to pursue the franchise further unless slot machines were legalized at [Belmont]. Slots at Belmont are opposed by Sheldon Silver, which, unless he changes his mind, is a death knell as Mayor Bloomberg well knows. Silver has not been clear as to his reasoning, but he doesn't have to be.
And as far as Empire goes:
[Foyt and Francis] raised questions about the financial projections of the VLT casino by Empire Racing, whose partners include Magna Entertainment Corp., Churchill Downs Inc., and Woodbine Entertainment Group. Foye said there were concerns about the financial health of MEC, which has been selling tracks, along with antitrust concerns about giving a franchise to a company so heavily involved in the simulcast business. [Bloodhorse]Jeff Perlee responded:
“They criticized Empire because one of our partner’s stock price is down, and yet they went on to recommend an entity that itself is bankrupt.....So, I think there are a lot of holes in the logic.’’I would think that Perlee might be tired of repeating the same old 'NYRA is bankrupt' rhetoric at this late stage. And besides, the biggest holes were in the logic that led Empire to take on Magna despite its shaky track record and the nearly unanimous sentiment against them having a role in NY racing. It serves them right if that decision is ultimately the one that doomed their bid.