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Thursday, August 14, 2008

No Cap On Racino Delay

- It's August 14. Do you know who your Aqueduct racino operator is? It was July 24 when it was reported that the integrity reviews were complete. A spokesperson for Governor Paterson said at the time: “I wouldn’t put a timetable on it....The three of them [Paterson, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and Speaker Sheldon Silver] can sit down and meet any time. It’s not that hard to arrange.” [Thoroughbred Times]

However, it hasn't been arranged thus far, and it seems unlikely to take place even next week when the Legislature convenes a special session on Tuesday. Issues considered far more important, such as Paterson's proposed 4% cap on property taxes, will take center stage as legislators try to wade through a political minefield in this election year. The property tax cap was approved by the Senate in a special session of its own last week, largely with the support of Senate Republicans put in the uncomfortable position of balancing an issue with tons of popular support, but staunchly opposed by the powerful teachers unions.

Indeed, the NYSUT (NY State United Teachers) has launched a TV ad campaign, and already, in the name of maintaining the quality of schools but no doubt with an eye on their own paychecks, has unconditionally withdrawn their endorsement, over this single contentious issue, from each of the 38 Senators of either party who voted in favor - even some of those who it endorsed just two years ago. Isn't that special....that's why they call it special interest politics I guess. The Assembly and Speaker Silver have shown no indication that they will consider the matter. Assembly Democrats instead favor a plan under which the state would assume any property tax increase over a certain amount; with a "millionaire's tax" making up the gap. Seems like a reasonable plan (as in, a tax which doesn't effect me.)

Also on the table will be the governor's plea to immediately slash some $1 billion from the budget, including the kind of cuts in Medicare Medicaid funding that even Governor Steamroller was unable to fully effect in the face of opposition last year. Of course, at the going estimate of $1 million a day in net revenues for the state, a racino at Aqueduct would, over the last year, have paid nearly all of the $375 million in Paterson's proposed cuts in state programs and aid to localities alone. So maybe the three men should try to find some time to arrange that little meeting for once and for all.

- Looking back through the LATG archives, the earliest mention I could find of an imminent start to construction of the racino was from this post in November 2005.

NYRA president Charles Hayward, who over the summer said he expected work to start by Oct. 1, now predicts "hammers to be flying in a couple of weeks" after three more requirements are met. First, an overall construction manager has to be selected; second, NYRA has to hire a project manager.

"We're in the red zone," he said. "I expect both of those to be resolved by early next week at the latest."

Third, the state lottery commission has to give final approval to MGM Mirage to operate the casino for NYRA.

"We're about ready to tie that bow," said Hayward.
Oh man. At least there was actually a named operator for the place back then! Hasn't quite worked out the way that Hayward envisioned, and the state is still tripping over that shoelace.

- On Monday evening, the day before the special session, Governor Paterson will headline a fund-raiser for Senator Obama, hosted in part by horse owner Tracy Farmer, at the Saratoga Hilton.

The unsettled weather is scheduled to break over the weekend up there....though now even Saturday's forecast has that omnipresent possibility of scattered and isolated storms....and how sick are you guys up there of that!? In any event, it looks OK for the Head Chef and I, at least for Sunday, and for Monday, on which Just Zip It is one of 18 nominees for the Union Avenue Stakes. My rule of thumb is that a crowd of 20,000 on Wednesday portends good business for the weekend; so with yesterday's attendance of just under that figure, perhaps NYRA will make up for some of the weather-related deficiencies from the first three weeks.


Anonymous said...

Gas under $4 will help the Spa but they do need a fast/firm track up there.

Gotta love NY politics. A call for cutting 1 bil from a 120 bil budget in a bad economy starts a free for all.

I made a quick Spa visit over Test weekend, check out the new gourmet food stand. Hatties fried chicken is the best food you can get anywhere on track and maybe off track as well.

El Angelo said...

minor note---the legislature is looking to cut Medicaid, not Medicare.

Alan Mann said...

jk - The Head Chef is way psyched for the Hatties stand!

el ang - thanks, i knew I was gonna screw that up...

Anonymous said...

Saratoga - Race 2

#5 Argyle Pink (8/1 ml)

2yo firster for Eddie Kenneally worked heads-up 5 consecutive times with Grizzly Peak, another 2yo firster who debuted for Kenneally on Wednesday. That one set blazing early fractions of 21.57 and 45.06 before being passed in midstretch by an impressive off-the-pace winner. Grizzly Peak held on quite well however, pulling away from the rest of the pack to finish well clear for second. Regarding those early fractions, compare them to those of the Adirondack Stakes (run later on the card). The stakes fillies went in 22.36 and 46.10, so Grizzly Peak went a full second faster to the half-mile mark than did Adirondack winner Mani Bhavan (who was on a clear lead thru that 46.10 half). Going a bit further, the Racing Form points out that Argyle Pink is a half-sister to the outstanding multiple stakes winner Smoke Glacken, whom most of you probably remember. Hard not to like here at the price.

Btw, i should probably mention that #1 Seminole Lass worked heads-up at Fair Hill with Cocktail Attire, who shipped into Saratoga off that drill to run extremely well in a maiden turf-sprint on Aug 3. That one showed very keen speed before being caught very late, so i'm guessing Seminole Lass will be the one battling Argyle Pink in the early going. Might be worth an exacta play, particularly considering Trombetta is 30% with firsters and 30% with Dominguez.

Anonymous said...

Alan, do you miss Joe Bruno at the helm of the Senate yet? Just're beginning to sound like you'll be supporting Republicans to retain control of that august body come November 4? Had enough of those greedy, obstructionist unions yet? Moreover, had enough of Speaker Sheldon Silver and those el slicko, John Edwards, phony baloney trial lawyers?

NY racing fans have been more than frustrated by the lack of progress in appointing a VLT operator at Aqueduct. Now, when one imagines NY problems writ 100 X large on the national stage down in that sleepy southern town called Washington, one can get a giant headache.

Those hopeless Pelosi Democrats don't even know enough to drill for more oil, and their equally idiotic NY State Dem colleagues are held hostage by a bunch of school teachers. We need more oil at the moment than we do a bunch of greedy school teachers."Where have you gone Joe Bruno, the Empire State turns it's lonely eyes to you."
/S/Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

We also checked out Max London's on Broadway. I ususally do not like "gourmet" style food but they did a good job. Very fresh ingredients and they do not get too carried away with the recipes. Christ reviewd it as well in his blog with a thumbs up.

And for those who care, an update on Bruno.

Bruno likes to hang out with family

El Angelo said...

GMP--You're kidding, right? You do know that even if the moratorium was lifted from off-shore drilling, there would be no new oil coming on line for another 5+ years? And that it would do nothing to the price of gas? I won't even get into the education/greenhouse gas debate.

/end of wonkish rant

Why did NYRA schedule only 9 races for Friday? I'm happy they did, it just seems quite odd given the first 3 weeks of racing.

Alan Mann said...

>.Why did NYRA schedule only 9 races for Friday?

First time this meeting. Maybe they're getting sick of taking races off the turf? Another washout today, unbelievable...and the forecast looks unsettled at best for Friday too, ugh.

GMP - Don't mean to pile on here, but the property tax was dead in the Senate until Bruno's retirement.

Anonymous said...

Harvey Pack said the 9 race card is due to a shortage of dirt horses as a result of all of the off the turf races.

Anonymous said...

El angelo - you are kidding right ? I guess we should just continue to import oil and hand money over to the House of Saud. We should have been drilling for our own oil for years but the jugheads in DC are beholding to the environmental nuts. How many decades will it take for the alternate fuels to come on line ? The global warming debate is hot air.

Bob from NJ

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the platoons of Suffolk Downs horses that would invade Saratoga? They used to be good for at least half a dozen wins a year. It's not like they don't have horses there -- they run a lot of full fields. And don't tell me that they're all nickel claimers -- a lot of the horses running at the Spa this summer compete for inflated prices and would have trouble at similarly priced levels at Suffolk.

Is it because they're allowed to run on bute in Mass. that a lot of horses will run there, but not elsewhere? Does the racing office at Suffolk refuse to let these horses off the grounds?

Alan Mann said...

>>What ever happened to the platoons of Suffolk Downs horses that would invade Saratoga?

Excellent point. We used to look out in particular for sharp sprinters that would ship in from there, and do pretty well as I recall.

Anonymous said...

My guess is the tax cap movement was orchestrated by powerful Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi in order to get the Governor's support for passing a law permitting VLT's to be installed at Belmont Park, even though filling in budget holes with gaming revenue is irresponsible governing. The Senate majority had already indicated favor for this proposal, so they easily got Suozzi humping for the VLT's as they both agreed and Belmont is in his district, and in turn the Senate voted for Paterson's tax cap. Quid pro quo politics, although Audrey Pheffer from Aqueduct may have some things to say about the issue.