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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

New York RFP's Near

- Empire Racing Associates chief Jeff Perlee told the Saratogian that the horsemen-backed aspirant to replace NYRA has “partners in place” to help finance their bid for the New York racing franchise. But he won’t say just who they are until the state issues its Request for Proposals (RFP). ERA’s heart is certainly in the right place, but the worry is that a partnership with the wrong big-pocketed entity will eventually lead to them ceding control to parties that don’t have the game’s best interests at heart.

We may find out their identities very soon. One J. Patrick Barrett, a former CEO at Avis who is the head of the panel overseeing the franchise process, wants to release the RFP this week. "I'm a businessman. I want to get this job done....... I want to get it done and over with.” [Bloodhorse]

Whoa man, what’s the big rush? What's the matter, do you have some other, more important business to attend to? That's just great. The entire future history of the racing world is at stake, and this guy can't wait to get out of there. He sounds more anxious to get back to the board room than George W. Bush must certainly be to retreat to his ranch.

"I'm going to be very disappointed if it isn't done this year."

Forget about the highest bidder, this guy sounds like he's ready to award it to the first bidder. But what do you expect? It was a political appointment to a businessman with no connection or interest in the game that I know of, and the governor's motives are known only to him. It just doesn't make me feel good to read his comments that reveal little genuine interest in the subject at hand, and I think that all of the people who make their living in the game, as well as the rest of us who crave the action and can't imagine what we'd do on Saturday afternoons without it, deserve a hell of a lot better.

From the sound of it, it may take until the end of the year for the prospective bidders to merely sort the whole thing out and determine how to respond.

Government sources said the inch-thick document, which has been revised at least seven times, is a complex package that will outline specific demands of bidders. But in an unusual twist for many government RFPs, it will also leave much to the creativity of bidders to propose new directions in which to take Thoroughbred racing in New York.

The RFP, according to a government source with first-hand knowledge of the document, permits bidders to choose from various options as they respond to the bid. For example, they can base their bids with or without a plan to add video lottery terminals at Belmont; current law permits NYRA to have the machines only at its Aqueduct facility.

The RFP permits both for-profit and not-for-profit entities to bid on their own or with partners. The highly detailed document also will require bidders to recommend how the state's pari-mutuel law will have to be changed to enable their bid to be adopted. Bidders will have to further address what becomes of the state's off track betting corporations, such as whether current law remains as is or if changes are needed to permit collaboration between the OTBs and racetracks. [Bloodhorse]
- What do you think is the over/under for how many minutes of ABC’s two hour Belmont telecast will be devoted to Barbaro? Around 22?