The horse racing organization that threatened to cancel the Belmont Stakes due to monetary woes will be subpoenaed for refusing to open its books. The state is skeptical of the New York Racing Association's claims that it doesn't have enough money to hold the final leg of the Triple Crown, because the organization was awarded $105 million in taxpayer money and had its $200 million debt erased last year, according to the Daily News.
"NYRA operates for the benefit of New York," said State Controller Thomas DiNapoli, who is expected today to demand records from the group, which runs the tracks at Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga. "Taxpayers have a right to know what's going on, and we're going to audit NYRA and find out." Six months ago, the racing organization said it was "financially stable" after giving the state the ownership of $1 billion in land rights and granting authorities greater financial oversight in exchange for the cash and debt assistance. But now the New York Racing Association claims it is a private nonprofit group, so it shouldn't have to turn over its books to auditors.
The tabloid notes that the New York Racing Association has a long history of corruption. In 2003, the organization was indicted on federal conspiracy and fraud charges over allegations that managers allowed tellers to launder money and run loansharking operations from their cash drawers. Between 2000 and 2005, the organization allegedly skimped on $54 million in franchise fees that should have been paid to the state by improperly filling out federal tax forms. The New York Racing Association has fallen into financial trouble while it waits for the state to finalize a plan to install video slot machines at Aqueduct in Queens that would net an estimated $1 million per day in revenue that would help the organization's tracks stay open, and $200 million in licensing fees needed to close this year's budget in Albany.