Sunday, January 03, 2010

Let's Hear it for New York

After a not-so-brief hiatus, we're going to crank this blog up again. This first post will cover all things New York:

- Live racing has been cancelled at Aqueduct today. It's the prudent decision, as the high temperature will be 24 degrees with 40 mile-per-hour winds and a 30% chance of snow. It will be a lot nicer for the opening day down at Gulfstream. 65 degrees with no precipitation and practically no wind. Good luck to Quality Road in his return.

- We are hearing again that the operator of a VLT casino at Aqueduct will be named within the next week. Once again, it is unlikely that it will happen. There are currently 5 bidders trying to obtain the rights. The Governor, the State Senate Leader and the State Assembly Leader need to come to an agreement on which option is the best. This decision has eluded the people in these positions for 8 years since the enabling legislation was passed.

My belief is that the real deadline is March 31, 2010. This is the end of the State's fiscal year and the $200 million that is expected from the winning bidder has to be received by then for the Governor's deficit reduction plan to work. If they don't collect the cash, the State will once again not be able to pay its bills from the General Fund. As someone who works at a State-funded social services agency, I would prefer that the rate cuts and payment delays end so we can get back to work serving people that truly need help. Please, Governor, pick a viable operator

And, although I do want an operator to be named, it better not be Delaware North. They were initially named the operator but couldn't come up with the $370 upfront payment that they promised. It would be wrong to give them the same rights for $200 million now. Sure, the credit markets collapsed after their offer was accepted, but they didn't deliver and they should not be rewarded for such failure. Other bidders provided proposals within their means and they should be given preference now.

For much more detailed and impressive coverage of the VLT politics/bidding process, check out Left at the Gate.

- Ramon Dominguez was the leading rider in New York for 2009. He was the leading rider at each meet and led the second place rider (Rajiv Maragh) by 152 wins. Again - he led the runner-up by 152 wins. What a performance over the course of a year! Ramon was second nationally in wins and third nationally in purse money, but I still feel that he does not get as much recognition as he deserves. I think his name should be more consistently included with the nation's top jocks and big-ride guys. Now that he owns New York, perhaps that recognition will come in 2010. I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Ramon twice in 2009 and he comes across as a really nice guy too.

- New drug testing rules went into effect for the New York circuit on January 1st. I don't really understand them, so look here if you have an interest. Also, Aqueduct was accredited by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. After my blogging gig at the NTRA, I am dubious of any credential that they issue.

- And finally, more political posturing. NYRA claims that it will run out of money before the Belmont Stakes is run. The State Comptroller does not believe this assertion and has issued a subpeona for NYRA's financial records. NYRA will not cooperate, and away we go with another mess that just distracts from the real problems. If Albany will just let NYRA operate OTBs and/or derive a fair share of the profits from off track wagering, they will be financially stable. Get rid of all the OTB patronage jobs and unnecessary overhead and there will be plenty of money to run the tracks and fully fund purses. Throw in the VLT casino and you then have enough money to improve conditions on the backstretch and have a real program for retired racehorses. Imagine that - it's easy if you try.

- One last New York issue, LET'S GO JETS! Please don't rip our hearts out again.


dana said...

So glad to see you back!

Ernie said...

Happy New Year, Alan!


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