Horse racing: N.Y. Gov: NYRA, Saratoga meet will be saved
Associated Press Writer
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. David Paterson says a new proposal for a state bailout will pass and New York thoroughbred racing at Belmont and Saratoga race tracks will go on as scheduled.
The Paterson administration wants to provide a loan of $15 million to $25 million to keep the New York Racing Association operating until it receives its share of long overdue revenue from video slot machines at Aqueduct Race Track.
The money would come from a capital construction fund for the video slots and be repaid by NYRA. Paterson said a vendor to build and operate the video slot machine "racino" at Aqueduct is expected to be chosen by Aug. 1.
The new proposal shared with legislative leaders Tuesday replaces a previous plan to loan NYRA $17 million, which was found to be unworkable.
Paterson was asked in a news conference if NYRA will run out of money before the Saratoga summer meet, as NYRA officials warned Monday.
"That's not going to happen," Paterson said. "We have a plan to loan NYRA, in the short term, money to get through Saratoga and we're working on a long-term plan to help beyond that."
Paterson said he expects the Legislature to approve the new proposal.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says he supports NYRA, but he hasn't seen the proposed legislation yet. The state's most powerful legislative leader added he isn't rejecting it. Silver declined further comment.
There was no immediate comment from NYRA.
Paterson said the plan hasn't hit any snag and he expects the Legislature to approve the latest bailout as they have past plans to support NYRA. The private entity runs thoroughbred racing in New York at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga under a franchise agreement.
"They haven't committed to do it, but we have it ready," Paterson said. "I think they'll pass it."
NYRA officials said the agency is running out of money and may have to shut down in less than three weeks, the day after the Belmont Stakes.
"I don't have any information that that's what is going to happen," said the governor.
On Monday, a leading horseman described the situation as "catastrophic" and said that even Saratoga — the jewel of New York racing — could be threatened by the turmoil.
NYRA CEO Charlie Hayward said Monday that cash problems must be resolved with the state "to make it through the entire Belmont Park race meet."
Several horsemen said racing could be halted June 6. That would be a day after the Belmont Stakes is run, although without any star power since Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky are bypassing the final leg of the Triple Crown.
The Belmont meet ends July 18 before racing shifts upstate to Saratoga for the state's most lucrative meet, which runs July 23-Sept. 6.