- The State Senate conducted their first hearing on Spitzer's NYRA proposal, and a lot of what we read in the papers today really could have been written last week. That particular House of the legislature is the last corner of state government still controlled by Republicans, if just barely, and given the current tensions in Albany, it's little surprise that they expressed skepticism over the plan, complaining that they weren't consulted and that it was put together hastily.
I think that, at this point, if Spitzer came out and said he was now against any campaign reform and that special interest money (like that which he received from the franchise bidders) is good, Joe Bruno would then put on the Governor's corruption buster helmet and launch investigations of himself. So while I'm not alarmed to hear Bruno say “I can tell you now that what the governor submitted is not going to be the final product,” for him to say that it's “not appropriate” to deny other bidders a portion of the franchise is just patently absurd.
He speaks as if they have some kind of guaranteed right to get a piece of the action solely by virtue of having made a bid. I mean, what if the Friends of Barbaro lunatics threw their lobotomies into the ring and proposed to turn Saratoga into a dead horse shrine? “Just to sort of leave everyone by the wayside I’m not sure is appropriate....What we need is imagination, creativity, innovation." [Bloodhorse] Well, I'll tell you what Joe; if any of the other bidders had shown any of those things - aside from giant signs on buildings, helmet-cams and horse parks in Saratoga - perhaps they would have gotten the franchise!
And why does he keep mentioning Magna and Churchill, as he was again reported to have done in the Saratogian? What makes him so beholden to those companies, especially now that his buddy Jared Abbruzzese is no longer connected (or so we're told) to Empire? Bruno is supposed to be a racing guy, so what could he possibly see in a company that is desperately selling its racing properties to cover for its gaffes? It's like Canada thinking of having George W. Bush come to run their foreign policy! I just don't get that. And to think, I wrote not long ago that it might be a good thing to have Bruno in the room where the decision will be made; now I'm thinking that it's time for him to do the perp walk.
In response to that nonsense, Charlie Hayward told the Saratogian, correctly I believe:
"It is not in the interest of out-of-state racetrack operators, who are NYRA's competitors, to preserve and enhance the preeminence of New York racing. Their for-profit structure will result in more revenue leaving New York for Kentucky and Toronto, and less revenue being reinvested into purses and breeder awards for New York horsemen."And indeed, revenue leaving NY and going to TrackNet Media among others is written in black and white, right there in Empire's bid. So, why the counsel to the committee chairman would assert that all of the bidders are still in the running is just beyond me, and, as related specifically to Empire (and even though I don't believe it for a second), makes me wanna puke.
- The NY Post reports that the Weightgate case is not going well for the prosecution...at least according to one of the defense attorneys.
"The way the evidence has unfolded, we feel the prosecution is in serious, serious trouble at this point," [Mario] Sclafani's attorney, Todd Greenberg, told The Post yesterday. "The videos that were shown (by prosecution) have established everything the defense has been saying: That the methodology used (by investigators) was terribly flawed and inaccurate." [NY Post]- The Green Monkey is entered in the 4th at Belmont on Saturday. Judging from the interest I'm seeing and hearing about this longest of long-awaited debuts, you might want to head down to the paddock now. Looks like just another high-priced horse debuting for a trainer who's 1 for his last 34 with his first-timers in NY to me!