Spitzer to Split Up Control of New York's Three Racing Tracks

Saratoga

The track at Saratoga.Photo: AP

As one of the many controversy-spurning agenda items Eliot Spitzer has to deal with, we hear some progress being made in the ongoing discussions with Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno over Bruno's pet issue: the future of the New York horse-racing industry. One source involved in the private talks tells us that the tentative plan is to split up control of each of New York's three horse-racing tracks: Saratoga, Belmont, and Aqueduct. The New York Racing Association (which faces an expiration date at the end of this year) will get to keep control of the track in Saratoga, and thus stay alive. This would help the Spitzer administration avoid a potentially lengthy lawsuit.

As for other two tracks, the tentative plan is to divvy up their gambling components, such as Video Lottery Terminals ("where the real money is," our source says) and the horse-racing components, to bidders. As for the issue of development rights for hotels at the tracks, that, the source says, is "left to the Steves." Namely, Steve Ross, of the Related Companies; Steve Wynn, gambling mogul; and Stephen L. Green, the New York real-estate big. It's unclear when an announcement will be made, but if a deal isn't cut by the end of the year, the horse-racing industry is planning to go "dark." Such a development could potentially cost the state millions in tax revenues and cause political problems for Bruno, whose district includes the Saratoga track. —Geoffrey Gray