- The IRS has backed off on its absurd $1.6 billion claim against NYRA; that according to Paul Post, reporting for the Thoroughbred Times. The final settlement could be anywhere from $2-million to $15-million. Also, the bankruptcy court has approved the association's latest reorganization plan. That puts the ball squarely in the court of the creditors (likely to approve a plan which pays them 100 cents on the dollar) and the state legislature, specifically, Senate Republicans and their fearless leader Joe Bruno. The two sides are reportedly in negotiations, and Post reports that a Senate spokesman said a deal should be struck by mid-December.
Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, said, “The Senate majority realizes that racing is at a critical juncture in New York state, and as part of our ongoing dialogue on this issue we will be reviewing NYRA’s latest filings. We continue to have discussions with the governor’s office to achieve a final resolution that ensures a quality product for racing fans and is in the best interests of taxpayers.”That's a softer tone than previous statements coming out of the Senate Majority Leader's office, and further indication to this observer that the gates will open for the first race of the year at 12:30 PM on January 1. I wonder if NYRA has had those calendars printed up as of yet.
- Apprentice jockey Jose Bracetty has had his license revoked by the NY State Racing and Wagering Board
Bracetty was arrested Sunday in Nassau County after reported domestic dispute, charged with one felony count of assault "with intent to commit injury with a weapon." Bracetty, a native of Puerto Rico, was previously arrested Oct. 10 for third-degree criminal mischief. [NY Post]And here we go again. Bracetty has been arrested and charged - twice. However, under the criminal justice system, that doesn't as of yet make him guilty of anything. However, the Board "determined that his experience, character and general fitness were inconsistent with the public interest and best interests of racing." But when Kentucky investigators found cobra venom in Patrick Biancone's barn, New York and every other racing jurisdiction did absolutely nothing and permitted him full access, that despite the man's damning prior record of suspensions and violations. Was his continued presence "consistent with the public interest and best interests of racing?" I continue to not understand how that situation was handled.
- While the common wisdom for racinos thus far has always been the more the merrier, Gulfstream's plan to revitalize its dormant slots revenue is to cut back the number of VLT's from 1200 to 516, and add about 300 video poker machines. Perhaps Frankie can sell off the rest of the VLT's to help cover MEC's debts.
The plan: Change the first-floor casino to a half-casino, half horse-racing lounge. Add a dozen new versions of video poker, and swap out other, less-popular machines for more penny and two-cent slots. Once all the changes are complete in mid-December, the casino will have about 825 slot machines and video poker games divided between the second-floor casino and the redone, first-floor lounge-casino.The paper reports that the track's latest daily take per machine figure, since July, is $81, as opposed to $167 for Mardi Gras Racetrack and Gaming Center and $213 for The Isle at Pompano Park. An amazing disparity, I must say. Always good to see an attempt to involve slots players in the racing, so where the heck are the Horse Wizard machines?
''We're going to blow the socks off people in terms of video poker offerings,'' said Steve Calabro, corporate vice president of gaming for Magna Entertainment.... ``Instead of having 1,200 games on the floor, we're going to have 850 of the best ones out there. . . . We're going for quality versus quantity.''
Calabro said the casino changes will help ``marry horse racing fans with video poker slots players.'' [Miami Herald]
Gulfstream is also joining the lawsuit to invalidate Governor Crist's compact agreement with the Seminoles that would give the tribe exclusive rights to blackjack and baccarat.
- Having fabricated his resume, gained the trust of the Jockeys Guild only to betray them and fleece the organization for his own personal enrichment (and that of his friends and family), allowed the organization's insurance policy to lapse without informing the members, and brazenly stealing money on the day he was being fired, Wayne Gertmenian is heading the creditors' committee with respect to the Guild's bankruptcy. He is claiming that he and his Matrix Capital Associates are owed over $1 million. Man, it's a great country, ain't it? As Graeme Downs, the songwriter for the legendary (in indie-rock circles, anyway) and brilliant New Zealand band The Verlaines, sang at the end of the doleful dirge Damn Shame:
You're an embarrassment to be so sick in reputation
You should be quarantined and never let out
Your behavior's beyond belief
It does not fear the burning question:
Good morning... how you gonna live with yourself?