- The Racing Form's Matt Hegarty has been far more cautious over the last week about the status of the negotiations and how close they are to being successfully concluded. On Tuesday afternoon, while some other outlets were reporting the agreement as done, the Form maintained its headline of NYRA prepared to shut Aqueduct at the top of its homepage.
As of this writing, the Form has only gone as far as Hints that NYRA deal is close. And since Hegarty's reticence has been correct thus far, it probably behooves us to pay attention when he reminds us that Bruno has insisted since late in 2007 that a long-term deal was imminent without one being reached. (Bruno told FOX Sports that the "framework" of a deal is in place. "Can I tell you this is a done deal? No," Bruno said at a news conference. But, he insisted, "Racing will continue.")
The presence of NYRA officials at the Capitol and the silence of major participants in the negotiations suggested that a deal might be in the final stages. Rick Violette, the president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, said Tuesday from Ocala, Fla., that the horsemen's lobbyist had said that a deal was near.Violette also said that the deal would give the horsemen a cut of 5.5% of VLT revenue in the first year of an Aqueduct racino, 6.5% the second year, and 7.5% going forward; that as opposed to the 6.5% (with some weird limits on increases which could actually prove to be regressive) in the MOU. If you average that out over the first three years, then essentially, the deal, as reported here, gives the horsemen an extra percentage point starting in the 4th year, at which point they'll be slots at the Concord, in Massachusetts, Philadelphia, table games proliferating north from West Virginia and Delaware, racino and casino gambling everywhere on the east coast (except at the Meadowlands) and Capital Play will be begging Governor Bloomberg to help bail out their racino at the Big A.
"I think we have a deal," Violette said. "It looks like we'll be racing Thursday." [DRF]
But that's getting ahead of ourselves.
In the meantime, there's no deal yet, and Hegarty even mentions the possibility of another temporary extension if an agreement is set, but is not officially signed off on by the legislature, which conveniently adjourns for vacation until Feb. 25 (didn't they just get here?) after Wednesday's session. And then we can do this all again.