NYRA Reports January Losses of $3.9 Million

NYRA Reports January Losses of $3.9 Million
Another tough month for the ailing New York Racing Association, which has notified a bankruptcy court it lost $3.9 million in January. That comes on top of a $7.1 million loss the previous month.

NYRA officials were unavailable for comment.

The red ink was reported to the U.S. Bankruptcy court in Manhattan, where NYRA’s Chapter 11 case could be tossed out next month if the state of New York has its way. The state last year filed papers asking the judge to end NYRA’s bankruptcy protection on grounds that it is a quasi-government organization not eligible for bankruptcy.

NYRA, which must report its financial doings every month to the court, said it disbursed $21.4 million during January, but lost $3.9 million. Its largest expenses included about $3.3 million apiece for on facilities and administration. It reported spending $571,000 on racing and $476,000 on “reorganization,’’ which includes NYRA’s bankruptcy lawyers.

The NYRA franchise expires at the end of the year; Excelsior Racing Associates late last year beat out NYRA and Empire Racing Associates in a non-binding vote by a government panel to run the next 20-year franchise.

Excelsior’s partners include Steve Swindal, a partner with the New York Yankees and son-in-law of George Steinbrenner; Swindal, according to the New York Daily News and New York Post, was charged Feb. 15 with driving under the influence near the Yankees’ spring training field in Tampa, Fla. A spokesman told the newspaper that Swindal “apologizes profusely.’’

The Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing, the New York government group that tapped Excelsior, has scheduled a Feb. 21 meeting in Albany and Manhattan to release its final report, which officials have been saying would contain no surprises but would merely lay out the details on how its selection was made.

Excelsior’s other partners include casino developer Richard Fields. The group’s financial advisor is William Mulrow, an ally of Gov. Eliot Spitzer; Mulrow recently lost out in a bid to become the state comptroller, a post that would have taken him out of the franchise process.

As NYRA fights the state’s bid to get its bankruptcy filing tossed out, it is also trying to convince a judge to approve a $50 million loan to keep afloat the remainder of the year. That request, though, is being made more complicated by the Spitzer administration’s recent proposal to provide $23 million in state funding to NYRA to help with its cash-flow problems this year. Racing industry insiders say the state is trying to strengthen its overall case by including the bailout money for NYRA.

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