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Wednesday, February 16, 2005


- Tim Smith’s Friends of New York Racing held their long awaited coming out party today with a press conference in Saratoga at which they outlined their plans and intentions. Smith stated that they do not intend to bid for NYRA’s franchise themselves, but made it clear that they intend to participate in the process.

"We want to influence the RFP [request for proposals] process," Smith said.... Smith said Friends of New York will not recommend a single bidder, and that he convinced Friends of New York contributors such as Magna Entertainment Corp. and Churchill Downs Inc., to look at a bigger picture.[Thoroughbred Times]
Amidst a lot of talk of surveys and task forces was FNYR’s stated intention to become a political action committee. This would allow them, at least under current law, to raise and donate money to politicians, and even I suppose to run advocacy ads supporting particular candidates.

With New York interests on board in the form of owners and breeders, the heads of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders (NYTB) and the New York Thoroughbreds Horsemen’s Association, the state’s horsemen seem to be well represented and a strong and influential grass-roots lobbying organization can only be a good thing. Armed with cold cash and their surveys showing that New Yorkers have a favorable view of racing and see racetrack VLT's as a means to avoid tax increases, FNYR could be an effective influence in Albany. But the presence of companies that are interested in the franchise themselves (not to mention the CEO of the tote company NYRA just threw out) makes Smith’s contention that they are neither for nor against NYRA’s bid for a franchise extension just ring false.

- Among the survey results released by FNYR was this:
Of the respondents, 41% play the lottery frequently or occasionally, 22% go to a casino on the same basis, and 8% go to a Thoroughbred racetrack.[Bloodhorse]

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