- The temporary extension of NYRA's franchise, which runs through Jan 23, still needs approval from the State Racing and Wagering Board; Oversight Board chairman Steven Newman says he is "confident" that the final approval is forthcoming. There's no doubt that the agreement was carefully constructed from NYRA's side to ensure that the land claim is left intact; and the term is short enough so that their ace in the hole remains potent. Charles Hayward told Bloodhorse: “NYRA is not commenting on any franchise developments at this time." He's just getting into the spirit of these most closed door of closed door negotiations.
But from the muffled sounds coming through those doors, leaking from the top staff members of the three relevant parties who are doing the negotiating, we may very well be in the same position on January 22 as we are now. The reports indicate that Senator Bruno and his Senate Republicans are not budging an inch, and why would they right now given the extra breathing room?
Negotiators for Spitzer were said to be upset with Senate Republicans for refusing to compromise on some matters, according to officials involved in the talks. Bruno also wants to sharply cut--by as much as half--a deal made by Spitzer with NYRA for a 30-year extension. [Bloodhorse]James Odato reports in the Albany Times Union that the sticking points other than the length of the extension remain the same: the makeup of NYRA's board, and the rights to the simulcast signal. Odato also writes that the Senate wants to make sure the NYRA president and chairman is replaced. That, on its face, sounds to me like nothing more than petty vindictiveness. How about if we replace the Senate Majority Leader instead? Thus far, it doesn't seem as if the pressure from his Saratoga constituency is making much of a difference. We may not see if it ultimately will until the deadline is firmly upon us. And I don't expect NYRA to agree to another extension after this one.
The New York Sun reports today that Bruno will not meet face-to-face with the Governor, whom he accused of threatening his life, unless they're done in front of the cameras; that's the latest somewhat irrational if not hysterical statement to come out of the Senator's mouth. Perhaps he's confusing Spitzer with his former consultant Roger Stone?
[Sheldon] Silver, speaking to the Sun, said Mr. Bruno is "stomping and screaming and name-calling," suggesting that the Senate leader has a "total disdain" for his responsibilities.Yup, sounds like they're close to an agreement to me! Talks are said to be continuing today.
"What would Shelly have us do? Have the governor run roughshod over everyone?" Mr. Bruno asked. "This governor has gotten very politicized. ... He has threatened my life in terms of my existence, personally, calls me a senile old s—, and he's going to knock me down and knock me out. And then Shelly, the wimp, sits there doing nothing and thanks the good lord that it's not him that Spitzer's aimed at."
Mr. Bruno was apparently referring to an episode earlier in the year when he charged that the governor told him he would "knock" him down. Spitzer aides denied the charge.
Said Mr. Silver: "I really shouldn't dignify anything that he says with a response." [NY Sun]
- A bit further up the Thruway, Vernon Downs' owner Jeff Gural will meet with Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, and a representative from the horseman's association other than Joe Faraldo. Gural has backed down, for now, from his threat to shutter the racino there on January 7. He's hoping that the Assembly will take action on the bill, passed by the Senate, which provides a bigger cut of slots revenue to some racinos, and which contains a provision specifically designed to help bail him out from his idea to compete with the Turning Stone casino ten minutes away. The Assembly bill contains a cut of 8.75% for the horsemen; that number is halfway between the 8.25% in the Senate bill, and the 9.25% which the horsemen contend was the legislative intent of New York's original VLT bill.
- Shug McGaughey's always-trying Dancing Forever has been toiling in second level allowance races - to my financial detriment in a couple of cases. But he found a stakes field he was able to beat on Wednesday, nipping co-favorites Terrific Storm and Croton Road in an exciting three-way finish to the Our Dear Peggy stakes at Calder. He's an honest horse and the talent has always been there; leave it to Shug to help him finally put it all together late in his four-year old season. He beat a couple of nice horses there, and overcame a slow pace to do so, closing for the win in a final furlong of 11.16 seconds. Dancing Forever is by Rahy, and has the usual Phipps suspects on her distaff side - out of a full sister to champion Heavenly Prize (the dam of Good Reward and Pure Prize), third dam is Blitey (dam of Dancing Spree and Furlough), etc., etc.,