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Monday, May 11, 2009

Notes - May 11

There have been no new disclosures about the Aqueduct bids or the bidders themselves; indeed, as has been pointed out, some of the best info and accurate speculation I've seen has come right here in the comments sections of this blog! This reader speculates that, just perhaps, a NYRA/MGM bid is part of the Peebles bid.....or maybe they make up Aqueduct Entertainment....and who knows who's part of the Steve Wynn offer. Indeed, could some of the old names from Excelsior be involved? Just speculation, but that's all fair and expected when the process is as opaque as this. I can't really see any justification for such secrecy, especially since the general public will ultimately be asked to pony up the money for the construction through a $250 million bond offering. Perhaps some of you legal types can offer an opinion as to whether this information would be subject to a freedom of information request?

- The weather has finally cleared, and Belmont recovered to some extent over the weekend from the abyss of Friday's card, when a grand total of 44 betting entries graced the nine races. There was actually a grass race on Sunday, as well as a decent crowd of 7385 on hand on Mother's Day. The weather looks decent throughout the week with just a couple of chances of passing showers on tap, so perhaps I'll actually make my Belmont debut this weekend.

A shout out to Richie Munk's Funky Munky Stable, whose Jack on the Rocks, on Saturday, won his second race for the stable (in addition to two seconds) since being claimed for 30K in January.

- Despicable. of its biggest black eyes. Ever.

...a horror story.

Those are some samples from the press reaction to the now-aborted plot to exclude Rachel Alexandra from the Preakness. You'd think Mark Allen and Ahmed Zayat were plotting to have her relegated to a permanent stay on Ernie Paragallo's farm. Look, I do sincerely appreciate and even value the comments made disagreeing with my post; I think it's something about which reasonable people can certainly disagree, and I love the diversity of opinion; it's what makes the world go 'round. However, if you can't get at least get a laugh out of the rambling comments from the two abovementioned parties, then I respectfully submit that you're taking this all too seriously. And I also respectfully disagree with my buddy 30for60; the ratings for the Derby were actually pretty good, and I think it should carry over with the interest generated by the longshot Derby winner, filly or not. So I think the Preakness will be just fine either way. And, like a good Jane Austen novel, I think that delayed gratification would pay off in this case; let her first meet the boys later in the year when she's more mature, has more sufficient rest, the plot is presumably thicker, and at a time when the TV ratings are more in need of a boost.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Paterson has decided to let the next Governor deal with it, fulfilling the Donald Trump rant from 2002 when he lost out then to MGM, to just delay the deal for as long as possible!

Teresa said...

I have long been impressed with the breadth of topics covered on this site...but my admiration reaches new heights with the Austen reference!

Anonymous said...

I agree on your points re ratings, but don't you think a sport that can't get more than 5 horses in a a field at Churchill; whose primary racetrack owner is bankrupt; whose main headlines these days are about Mullins (drugs), breakdowns (Eight Belles and Barbaro), despicable care of race mares (Ernie what ever that idiot's name is); I mean I could go on - who couldn't. I love the sport but it is in need of a hail mary right now and she is it. Yes in a perfect world we would see a Rachel/ Zenyetta match up this summer with both of them taking on the boys later this year. But guess what, if they ran the two girls at Belmont this weekend it would draw a whole 8,000 people. Maybe this is just a short term gain without any bearing on the long term health of racing, but I think it is a risk/situation we should all be happy about at this stage. I know that won't change your mind but hey what would be the fun in letting this sit!!

Anonymous said...

Precious has some intel on Aqueduct Gaming on the Bloodhorse and Hayward says "he doesn't know nothing" on the DRF.

Antisthenes said...

The Ad Hoc Committee didn't allow publication or discussion of the bids submitted to prevent a publicity campaign by bidders over which was best during the RFP deliberations. This permitted the members to deliberate without an avalanche of advertisements influencing their decision. (Recollect the media campaigns of Capital Play and Excelsior after Spitzer decided to go his own way?)

Bidder identification by Ad Hoc was, I think, a bit more descriptive than what's been released.

Ultimately the Ad Hoc released everything post-decision. I still don't recollect seeing the materials from the initial Rifkin Committee, nor any of the various bid permutations that have been mentioned since. Not sure why. Given that history, I doubt we'll see much from these documents.

I think there's a certain logic in shielding responses to RFP bids during the pendency of selection, but I can find no authority for such in the law. One exclusion from FOIL would be the documents, if disclosed, 'would impair present or imminent contract awards ... " [Public Officers Law §87.2(c)]. A better reason for exclusion is if the records that are 'trade secrets or are submitted to an agency by a commercial enterprise or derived from information obtained from a commercial enterprise and which if disclosed would cause substantial injury to the competitive position of the subject enterprise.' [Public Officers Law §87.2(d)].

Given no contract has been awarded eight years after the statute permitted VLT's, it's probably difficult to argue anything is imminent. Rather, the bid after bid after bid process would lead one to believe the process is never ending, thus the most recent bid could cause later competitive injury should yet another bid be required.

Anonymous said...

Daily Racing Form

Big A casino bid's details are sketchy
By Matt Hegarty

The state of New York will not provide any details about the seven bids that were submitted on Friday to build and operate a casino at Aqueduct, a spokesman for Gov. David Paterson said on Monday.

The refusal to provide details is creating some confusion about which companies bid on the project. The list of bidders distributed by the state includes a reference to a company that was formed by unknown principals, lists a company that is also part of a bid submitted by another company, and names another bidder that said late Friday that it is not a bidder.

"I've seen a lot of conflicting information," said Charles Hayward, the chief executive of the New York Racing Association, which holds the racing franchise for Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga. "We're as in the dark as anyone else."

Hayward said NYRA is not involved in any group seeking the franchise.

The Aqueduct casino has been approved for 4,500 slot machines and has the potential to become one of the highest-grossing casinos on the Eastern seaboard. Gov. Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith will determine which company gets the nod.

Delaware North, the real-estate development company that operates two racetrack casinos in New York, is listed by the state as one of the seven bidders seeking the contract. On Friday, Delaware North distributed a statement saying that the Peebles Corp., along with Saratoga Gaming and Raceway and McKissack & McKissack, were partners in its bid. The Peebles Corp. was also listed by the state as seeking the casino contract as well, and is presumably bidding for the contract on its own in addition to the Delaware North partnership.

Delaware North officials said on Monday they would have no further comment on their bid. Officials of the Peebles Corp. did not return phone calls.

Also listed was a company called Aqueduct Entertainment Group, which was presumably formed in order to bid on the contract. Morgan Hook, a spokesman for Gov. Paterson, said the state would not release details about the principals in Aqueduct Entertainment, and efforts to determine the principals have been unsuccessful.

Another company listed by the state was SL Green Realty, the New York real-estate development company that had partnered with Delaware North in a previous unsuccessful bid for the racing franchise. Earlier this year, SL Green sued Delaware North, claiming the company used confidential information obtained during the partnership to launch its own bid.

In addition, the state said Mohegan Sun had submitted a bid, but according to the Norwich Bulletin, a Connecticut newspaper, Mohegan Sun made a proposal to the state without submitting a formal bid. In its proposal, Mohegan Sun would operate the casino without paying for its construction, a plan that does not comply with the requirements of a request for proposals that was sent out earlier this year.

The two other companies are Penn National Gaming, the racetrack and casino operator, and a company formed by casino entrepreneur Steve Wynn.

This is the second time that the state has put the Aqueduct casino out to bid. Last year, the state selected Delaware North to build and operate the casino, but the company backed out after it could not get the state to agree to a revised payment schedule for a $370 million fee.

Casinos were legalized at nine New York racetracks in 2001. The Aqueduct casino is the only casino that has yet to open.

Anonymous said...

Info On Aqueduct Casino Bidders Revealed
by Tom Precious
Date Posted: 5/11/2009 6:47:39 PM
Information on bidders trying to win the potentially lucrative Aqueduct casino project is slowly being revealed following seven offers being submitted to the state of New York May 8.

The members of one mystery group--Aqueduct Entertainment Group--was revealed May 11, at least partly, anyway.

The group’s partners include Navegante Group, a Las Vegas casino management company, and Green Star Services, which is serving as the developer of the proposed project, sources briefed on the proposal said. Green Star is a component of WDF Inc., a New York City construction contracting firm whose projects have included the Time Warner building, Lincoln Center and Yankee Stadium.

Larry J. Woolf, chairman of Navegante Group, declined comment, saying the various players in the bidding group were preparing for a conference call to devise a strategy for public relations and other efforts. Navegante Gaming’s projects include the Casino Fandango in Carson City, Nev., and the Plaza Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Woolf’s four decades in the casino industry includes a stint as chairman of MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.

One source said Rev. Floyd Flake, who is the political mentor and current pastor of Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, a Queens Democrat, is also somehow involved with the bidding group, as is Empowerment Development Corp.

Another involved, according to the governor’s office, is Siemans, though Paterson spokesmen could not say if it was the German conglomerate that industry sources say has had a small part of its business engaged in hotel and gaming financing. A source close to the bidders said the German company is involved in the bid.

Another company listed as an “affiliate’’ of the Aqueduct Entertainment Group is The Darman Group, which lists offices in Queens and Brooklyn. It has been involved as consultants in several high-profile real estate dealings in New York City.

A 2006 New York Daily News article said the company also has past ties to Smith, the Senate leader. It said the company was first incorporated as Smith Darman Inc. in 1999 before the lawmaker later broke off from the company. Officials with Darman did not return calls for comment.

The governor’s office also lists an entity known as PS&S, though it would provide no information on the group. A source close to the bidders said PS&S is an architectural and engineering company that has done work in Atlantic City and New York City. A Paterson official said Richard Mays is listed as chairman of the Aqueduct Entertainment Group.

So goes the latest round of bidding for the long-stalled Aqueduct casino, which was first approved for a sprawling gambling hall back in 2001. The latest round comes after Delaware North, which was awarded the casino deal last year with a $370-million bid, was unable to come up with the cash in a timely way for the state.

The Paterson administration has refused to release any details on offers from any of the bidders.

Seven bidders met a May 8 deadline to run the casino. Besides Aqueduct Entertainment Group, the bidders are Delaware North and its partners, Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, the Peebles Corp., and McKissack & McKissack; Penn National Gaming; a group led by Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn; SL Green, a Manhattan real estate company, and its partners, including Hard Rock Entertainment.

Peebles, the Delaware North partner, has also submitted a separate bid, while Mohegan Sun offered no money but said it would run the casino if the state built it.

Harl said...

I'll be absolutely shocked and amazed if the filly doesn't win the Preakness by 10 lengths or more. What a sad crop of 3yo colts this year...