Thursday, February 22, 2007

Spitzer’s off to the races Governor to review offers from applicants who want to operate Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga tracks

Newsday AP Story

Another Pataki Legacy for Spitzer to clean up.....what a mess......the process was flawed from the get go...as the old computer saying goes......"garbage in...garbage out".............andy

ALBANY - Gov. Eliot Spitzer will soon start a new process to award the state's thoroughbred racing franchise, with a spokesman saying he's not "bound" by a Pataki administration committee's recommendation released yesterday. "Gov. Spitzer has not yet received the report," said his spokesman, Paul Larrabee. "However, upon receipt, it will be reviewed and will be part of the governor's consideration and evaluation. He does not feel bound by it and in the next days we will be announcing a process for that evaluation." Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver also wants to give Spitzer a close review of the bids, Silver spokesman Charles Carrier said. Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno has said he wants to look at a fourth bid not considered by the committee and is open to combining some proposals. In November, after nearly a year of work, the state racing committee recommended Excelsior Racing Associates, a group headed by New York Yankees partner Steve Swindal and casino developer Richard Fields.Coming in last was the New York Racing Association, which has held the franchise since 1955. Its tenure was recently marked by multimillion-dollar losses and several state and federal investigations into mismanagement. Yesterday, the committee formally adopted the November recommendation. Spitzer's announcement is further evidence that the recommendation by the state's ad hoc racing committee, established by former Gov. George Pataki, carries little weight in Albany. Legislative leaders have also said they will make a full review of all the bidders for the 20-year franchise to operate Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga race courses and take over the growing use of video slot machines at Aqueduct. Also in contention for the franchise are Empire Racing, a Saratoga Springs group that includes Churchill Downs and Magna Entertainment along with horse owners and breeders; and NYRA, which argues it is the only competitor with the experience to run New York racing. The Pataki committee didn't consider a proposal by Capital Play, an Australian consortium that is now making its case directly to the State Legislature. The committee said Capital Play missed a deadline. Each proposal promises hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to state government and the horse racing and breeding industries while upgrading race tracks and their facilities and installing thousands of video slot machines at Aqueduct and potentially at Belmont.

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