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Monday, December 12, 2005

News and Notes - Dec 12

- Anyone who still has doubts as to just how messed up the racing industry is in New York just needs to read this article in the NY Times today. It seems that Yonkers Raceway is collecting millions of dollars from the state’s OTBs, even though it hasn’t conducted any racing since June. In an effort to generate more betting revenue, the OTBs made a deal with the state legislature in 2003 whereby they could broadcast more out-of-state thoroughbred races and less from Yonkers, which had been running mind-numbingly dull races around its half-mile harness track. In return, according to the Times, the track would continue to receive the same monies it had before. Almost immediately, Yonkers began to run fewer races. It was not hard to see why. It was going to be paid the same amount no matter how many races it ran.

Or, even if it doesn’t run any races at all, which has been the case since Yonkers shut down in order to facilitate the construction of a slots parlor.

Recriminations were immediate. Off Track Betting officials set their sights on State Senator Nicholas A. Spano, a Westchester Republican who some see as the protector of the race track's interests.

Racing "is the only industry in which we allow this nonsensical thing to go on," said State Senator John D. Sabini, the ranking Democrat on the Senate's racing committee. "I am stupefied that Yonkers would do this, and I would suspect Nick Spano had his hand in it."
Lawsuits have ensued involving various racing interests in the state seeking relief from the Off Track Betting payments to Yonkers.

In response to critics like Mr. Sabini, Mr. Spano said he had no regrets about protecting the raceway, one of Yonkers's largest employers. "I will continue to work as hard as I can to make sure the track remains economically viable," he said. "I am proud of the fact that they think I am the protector of Yonkers Raceway, because in fact I am."
Sounds like that “I am God” speech from that Alec Baldwin movie some years ago. Jerry Bossert in the NY Daily News sums up with facts and figures just how the country’s only OTB that competes with the hand that feeds it has contributed to NYRA’s dire financial straits.
In 1994, the New York Racing Association handled $708 million in bets that were made at the track. Ten years later, only $460 million was bet on-track as more gamblers prefer to bet from home on the phone with OTB or on the Internet.

The difference is huge as NYRA gets 9.4% of a bet made at Aqueduct, Belmont or Saratoga and only 2.2% of a bet made off-track at an OTB or a simulcasting shop.
The NYRA is going broke and NYCOTB is losing money. It's time now for the state to step in and either buy or pass legislation to take NYCOTB away from New York City, include it in the deal with the NYRA franchise and get a bigger price than it ever dreamed of.
- A lawyer for Wayne Gertmenian claims that the checks that he cashed on the day that he was removed from his position as head of the Jockeys Guild represent severance pay that was owed to him, according to Liz Mullen in SportsBusiness Journal (hat tip to Robert Colton).
“Dr. Gertmenian has never done anything wrong or illegal in connection with his work for the Guild,” said [attorney Mark] Werksman, who has been featured in Los Angeles magazine as one of the top white collar criminal defense attorneys in the city.
Also in the article, Guild attorney Barry Broad claims that Dr. G made off with some valuable memorabilia, including Bill Shoemaker’s boots and a bust of Eddie Arcaro. “We would like our money back…..We would also like Willie Shoemaker’s boots and Eddie Arcaro’s head back.”

It seems that Gertmenian is spending more of his disposable income on fancy legal help these days, after utilizing the hilarious Lloyd Ownbey during his stint at the Guild. And he hasn’t even been criminally indicted as of yet; are we feeling guilty, Dr. G? We previously mentioned attorney Mitchell Egers, who seems to have an affinity for defending accused sex perverts. Werksman is apparently drawn to representing accused terrorists. While we’re certainly not accusing Gertmenian of being either of the above, his actions as head of the Guild, if proven to be true, were a perversion of the trust placed in him to help safeguard the health and savings of its members, and would, again if proven, amount to nothing less than a financial terror attack on the group’s funds. So, for attorneys and client, the shoes certainly seems to fit (even the Shoe's boot).


t said...

I've written drf, LA Times, & The Blood-Horse to get on the Dr. G story and yet no one writes. The Sports Business Journal, a mouthpiece and trade rag for franchise back office types and athlete agents offers a verbatim reprint of Gertmenian's lawyer and little else. The Gertmenian fiduciary meltdown and general implosion of the Jockey's Guild is the biggest story in the sport right now and no one will touch it. Has anyone called the cops to check on their investigation lately put some heat there? Has the new leadership been interviewed by TVG or The Thoroughbred Times to get details of their legal strategy against Gertmenian or fiscal strategy to resurrect the Guild? I thirst for more coverage and latg is the only outlet with offerings.

Once again the horse racing media leaves the heavy journalistic lifting to some yahoo in Queens with a superior turn of phrase and apparently the enormous publishing empire infrastructure to actually DO SOME RESEARCH that mainstream publications lack. Where do you fit all that infrastructure, Alan? I thought everyone lived in a shoebox in NY.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but this daily reader greatly appreciates your contribution.

Anonymous said...