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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tale of Two Tracks

- Horsemen at Yonkers sued the raceway twice regarding the 17 months that the track was dark, but driver Michael Forte told the Journal News that there were no hard feelings anymore. The racino has netted a cool $43.6 million thus far, and even after the $23.6 million that goes to state education, there's plenty left over to increase purses and races.

When Yonkers Raceway closed in June of last year, the bottom purse per race was $2,500; now, it is $4,000. The top purse increased from $15,000 to $21,000, excluding special stakes races such as the Yonkers Trot, which last year fetched $735,000. Empire City expects that event to yield a seven-figure purse down the road.
"We have an overabundance of horses because of the high purse structure," Forte said.
The track will add a sixth day of racing, and envisions eventually going to seven or eight programs a week. And part of the new building will open today, bringing another 1,741 slots machines online.

The total take from Aqueduct thus far? Zero, zero, and zero. If you assume that they would be doing similar business as at Yonkers, you have to figure that the state has lost out on over $100 million in education money had the racino been open this year. I hope that Governor Pataki has set aside some time from his presidential campaigning for his court appearances to answer the lawsuit filed by NYRA over his blatant stalling on the project.

As we've been discussing, the details of the franchise bids have still not yet been made public. Matt Hegarty reported in the Form over the summer:
Under the committee's rules, bidders are prohibited from discussing their responses until the committee releases its recommendations, at which time the bids will become public, Williams said.
That's Robert Williams, the executive director of the committee. I'm going to send him an email to ask him why the bids have still not been released. You can too at:

[UPDATE: I received a prompt response stating that the committee has not actually made its formal recommendation, and has only released the grades. The bids will be released when the Committee officially submits its recommendation to the Governor and Legislature early next month. Which I suppose will be that the bidder with the highest grade is the one that's recommended. Hmmm...]