I have some financial reports that I'd gotten from NYRA a couple of years ago; and it shows that, in 2007, NYC OTB handled just under $300 million on NYRA races, generating a 'Net to NYRA' of $7.9 million. That's a percentage of just 2.69%, as opposed to over 9% for on-track bets (which now include those placed via NYRA Rewards). However, there was an additional 'Net to NYRA' of some $14.75 million from non-NYRA races and contractual payments. The total of $22.7 million could keep NYRA going until the
racino casino at Aqueduct Belmont is finally built, probably even if that's not until 2012. Easy to see why Charlie Hayward has said that all bets are off should OTB close.
And therein lies the dilemma here. I agree wholeheartedly [in principle] with those who say to slay the parasite; shutter the seedy parlors, and send Sandy Frucher back to Philadelphia. But another report I have shows that, in 2006, NYC OTB paid out over $100 million statewide to the "Racing Industry (Sum of payments to breeders' funds and racetracks). Even if those figures are down as much as, say, 15%, and as inefficient, corrupt, wasteful, and seedy as NYC OTB is, that's too big to fail kind of money.
So that's why I still expect, no matter what the OTB board announces this weekend regarding its closing, that something will get done in Albany. No doubt that this something, if it does indeed come to pass, will be a band-aid which will not address the fundamental issues that have led to the present dismal state of affairs. Seeing a reference in the memo of the failed bill to finally permitting OTB (and, consequently, NYRA) to stream the races online, and another to the concept of consolidations, mergers, acquisitions or consolidations does makes me think that maybe someone in the capitol is starting to get it. But if they all soon don't, we'll be in the same position this time next year.
- NYRA is looking past the current crisis with the apparent expectation that it shall survive. In a letter from Charlie Hayward and C. Steven Duncker to Breeders' Cup Chairman William Farish, NYRA seeks to "engage BCL in a discussion that will result in Belmont Park hosting the 2011 Breeders' Cup." The letter cites the four "memorable" events already run there, the sweeping turns and crisp fall weather, both of which appeal to the Europeans, the population of top stables based here, and New York as the media capital of the world.
In addition, Hayward and Duncker take aim at the idea to move the Breeders' Cup permanently to Santa Anita.
NYRA believes that moving the Breeders' Cup to a single location, particularly to Southern California and Santa Anita's artificial racing surface, imposes a severe hardship on horsemen and racing customers. Even before the introduction of artificial racing surfaces in California, thoroughbred horses shipping to California from the eastern part of the country were disadvantaged on the Santa Anita dirt surface.