It's a bad week for New York horse racing fans. First, cops nabbed an 18-year-old suspected of having sex with race horses at a Goshen track, now comes news that the Belmont Stakes might be called off because of the state's monetary woes. According to the Daily News, Governor Paterson and state legislators haven't been able to come to a consensus on a revitalization plan for the racetrack, which will run out of money "in the May-June timeframe," according Charles Hayward, president of the New York Racing Association. The race is scheduled for June 5.
"If we can't make payroll, we have to shut down," Hayward said. "There is certainly a possibility that Belmont may not open and there will be no third leg of the Triple Crown." The racing group is waiting for cash that would come from a plan to install video slot machines at the Aqueduct Racetracks in Queens — which would net an estimated $1 million per day in revenue that would allow the Belmont, Saratoga, and Aqueduct tracks to stay open, while providing long-term cash to the state and $200 million in licensing fees that is needed to close this year's budget in Albany.
But legislators haven't been able to agree on which of the five private firms should run the lottery terminals. The first winning bidder withdrew when the state demanded $370 million upfront instead of in quarterly payments, then casino mogul Steve Wynn backed out because the state demanded that the winning bidder pay at least $200 million within 30 days of signing a contract. "It's a giant mess," said one legislative aide, who declined to predict when the deal — which is eight years in the making — will actually be sealed. "I tell people that on each of our respective death beds, we'll hear that it's imminent."