- The first real-world implication of the looming franchise deadline is the ritual ordering of seats for the next summer's Saratoga meeting. The web page with information for ordering the tickets still has last year's info. (Hat tip to the Albany Times-Union's Capital Confidential blog.) (Primary assist to Albany Law School's Racing and Gaming Today.) Last year, orders had to be postmarked by Nov 24 to be eligible for the lottery, and that date has obviously already passed.
A representative on NYRA's information line said reservations aren't being taken because of "the franchise." [Albany Times-Union]Karen Johnson reports for Bloodhorse.com on the franchise angst amongst NY trainers that is accompanying Wednesday's opening of the inner track. (It's not too often that grass racing persists this late into the year, but there's turf races carded for Wednesday and Thursday.)
“We’re at the 10th hour, with the holidays coming up, there isn’t a lot of time,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Nov. 26. “This is a serious situation, a big worry, and a definite concern."Actually, at this point, the chicken game is more between the state and the state, though NYRA, having already played their hand, certainly looms an imposing factor by virtue of their land claim.
Mike Hushion, longtime trainer for Barry Schwartz, NYRA’s former chairman of the board of trustees and chief executive officer, said there is anxiety among horsemen.
“I think as (Dec. 31) gets closer, we realize it is a real possibility (that racing could shut down). It has become a game of chicken with NYRA and the state, and no one is so sure what will happen.” [Bloodhorse]
But I would counsel the horsemen to relax. The starting gate will open as scheduled on January 1. It's in the bag. At the very worst, as Bruce Levine told Bloodhorse: "Maybe the track will be shut a few days, but it will get fixed. I don’t see racing in New York ceasing forever.”
- The latest exclusive from the NY Post's Frederick U. Dicker claims that Governor Spitzer is to be blamed for "siccing" the FBI on Joe Bruno. He's referring of course to the ongoing FBI investigation of the Senate Majority Leader's business dealings, which feels as if it's been playing longer than Les Miserables at this point.
Sources close to Bruno told The Post that Senate investigators probing the Dirty Tricks Scandal have turned up what one called "strong indications" that Spitzer tapped his powerful law-enforcement connections last year while still attorney general to push the FBI into investigating the Rensselaer County-based Bruno's private consulting business.A spokesperson for the Governor said that the accusation "couldn't be more ridiculous." It actually seems quite plausible to me though, and so what if it's true? Bruno and his defenders always conveniently ignore the underlying behavior at the root of these controversies. In this case, it was his brazen steering of $500,000 of taxpayer-funded grants generally meant for non-profits to a for-profit company owned by his buddy and business partner Jared Abbruzzese. Spitzer was the Attorney General of the state, and had every right to do something about it, if he knew. Referring it to the FBI would be rather steamroller-ish and heavy-handed, but not out of character, and, again, not a Dirty Trick.
"Sure, we think Spitzer was behind it. He's been behind every other attempt to destroy Joe, and it's all tied in," said a source familiar with Bruno's thinking. [NY Post]