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Friday, May 08, 2009

Sheikh Seeks Saratoga Savings

Try saying that ten times fast...

The Sheikh of Dubai (foiled again in his quest for a Derby win and ain't that a shame), is seeking a zoning change for his Greentree Training Center in Saratoga. An attorney for Darley USA told the City Council that they are requesting the change so he can upgrade existing on-site housing for staff. However, there's concern that the Sheikh could use such a switch to develop the site in other ways.

Such a change could allow Darley USA, the Lexington, Ky.-based racing operation that owns the horse farm, or future owners to apply for non-equine uses for the farm, including concerts, restaurants, dormitories, religious centers and more, Accounts Commissioner John Franck said Thursday.

"Once we change the zoning, the permitted uses are vast," said Franck, who led the effort to postpone the vote until May 19. [Albany Times Union]
Perhaps they're scared that he might be interested in building Meydan West? Given the fact that the Sheikh's real estate ventures back home ain't going so well, there is likely a different motive. It seems as if recent barn construction has more than doubled the city's assessment of the property's worth and, thus, its tax liability.
The property is now zoned rural-residential and Darley is seeking a change to institutional racetrack-related, the same as Oklahoma Training Track, Saratoga Race Course and Saratoga Gaming & Raceway. The proposed change would bring Darley’s farm more in line with surrounding properties.

By doing so, the owners also might apply for agricultural credits that could reduce the site’s assessment, and taxes, significantly.

"I’m not disagreeing that it should be changed," Accounts Commissioner and city Assessor John Franck said. "I want to know what the tax ramifications are first. That number is going to change dramatically if the zoning changes." [Saratogian]
Thus, the Sheikh could save some money to put towards purchasing some more horses that won't win the Derby as long as he sticks to his failed strategy to do so.

- This must be a statistical quirk. With the Preakness shaping up as a far more interesting race, perhaps NBC can really make some hay with that telecast. And how absurdly overbet is that filly going to be? Count me in as being all in against her, especially since she's gone from sentimental favorite type to a horse with connections I love to root against.


Anonymous said...

The fellow seems like he's trying to make a positive difference in Saratoga with his farm efforts and the Fasig-Tipton remodeling. If it were me on the zoning and planning or assessment board, I'd work with him pretty close. I can't imagine saving a few thousand in taxes means that much to the Sheikh, can it?

El Angelo said...

Couldn't agree more Alan. There are at least 2 new shooters I like more than her. If it were the Belmont, it'd be a different story.

DiscreetPicks said...

You're probably right, but keep in mind there are a whole lot of people out there who refuse to believe that a filly can beat colts (despite mountains of evidence to the contrary). That might keep her price in check, at least somewhat.

El Angelo said...

I'd normally agree with you DP, but on the heels of Rags to Riches winning the Belmont, Zenyatta having some notoriety, and Mine That Bird's improbability in general, it wouldn't shock me to see her go off at something obscene like 2-1.

wrighteous said...

I always look to beat the favorite but this is one special filly. Big Drama would have to go on a suicide mission for Rachel to lose. She's 8 lengths better than these. Save your money the Preakness will be similar to the Oaks, a race to simply watch and applaud.

Anonymous said...

Count me in! A lot a bad karma with the move to Assmussen.

Anonymous said...

There goes the theory that a full week of ESPN hype creates interest, or that you need a "star" to draw viewers.

Could the ratings increase perhaps be the nascar effect?

8 Belles incidents gets more folks to watch the following year?

Sick as it is to believe, violence gets ratings and the tragedy of the prior year probably created more interest this year.

If correct, the Preakness will get huge ratings with the filly taking on colts. And yes, she will be an underlay. The biggest overlay will be the Derby winner, who could go off 10-1 if the track is fast. Even his jock is bailing.

Anonymous said...

In truth the zoning request seems fair, why should this racing property be zoned any differently than the others in town?

Anonymous said...

Dittos on the Spa zoning around the former Greentree Stables; if it isn't already an historic landmark it should be. This is arguably the grandest spread in Saratoga and occupies the premier location adjacent the track grounds on Nelson Ave.

The owner of this farm has much of Saratoga's rich tradition to uphold and it should not be trifled with. As J P Morgan once famously replied when a reporter asked him how much his yacht cost, "If you need to ask the price, you can't afford it".

The Sheihks have demonstrated that they will pay whatever the price tag says at Keeneland so why should it be any different at Saratoga? If you want to be the grandest squire in town then you better be willing and able to write the check that goes with it.

At such time and circumstance that the farm can no longer be preserved as an historic unit,i.e, we've run out of aspiring squires, then it may be necessary to reconsider the zoning. But that day has thankfully not yet arrived. /S/greenmtnpunter

Anonymous said...

P.S. The Sheikhs ought to be looking at Jeff Tucker's 3 farms if they want the latest and greatest in synthetic training track facilities near Saratoga. A bargain priced $18 million, I believe- make an offer. Let Greentree remain as it should be./S/greenmtnpunter