Thursday, March 08, 2007

Six bidders now vying for NY thoroughbred racing franchise

Newsday AP Story MARK JOHNSON

Here we go again.......this time some new faces in the mix.....if you think this is just about running the tracks and watching horses run around....think again...whoever gets this contract will get a nice piece of the vlt pie...video lottery terminals....aka..legalized gaming....millions of dollars are at stake here........andy

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A state panel formed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer will review the proposals of six companies interested in operating the state's thoroughbred racing franchise, Spitzer's office said Wednesday. The field includes: Empire Racing; a Saratoga Springs group that includes Churchill Downs of Louisville, Ky.; the New York Racing Association, which has held the franchise since 1955; Excelsior Racing Associates, a group headed by New York Yankees partner Steve Swindal and casino developer Richard Fields; and Capital Play, an Australian consortium now based in New York City. The list also includes two new entries _ Catskill Regional Off-Track Betting and Thoroughbred Racing-NY, represented by New York lawyer Sid Davidoff. Davidoff was out of the country Wednesday and could not be reached for comment. Each entity will outline their proposals to the panel, Spitzer's office said. Officials have not yet scheduled the presentations. Catskill Regional OTB was not one of the companies considered by a committee Gov. George Pataki formed last year, President and CEO Donald Groth said. "The Catskill OTB has every intention of proposing to win the franchise ... We're excited to be considered," Groth said. Last week, Spitzer released a plan to reopen the process of picking the next franchise holder despite a recommendation made three months ago by the committee formed by Pataki. The committee recommended giving the lucrative racing franchise to Excelsior Racing Associates. Spitzer said he wanted to look closely at each bid's qualifications under the "integrity" criteria and questions whether the franchise should cover 20 years. The Spitzer panel will include members of the state Racing and Wagering Board, Empire State Development Corp. and the Division of the Budget. Richard Rifkin, Spitzer's special counsel, will be the chairman. Senate and Assembly members will also participate. The franchise allows the holder to operate and improve Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga race tracks. Video slot machines are also planned for Aqueduct

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