At the New York Capitol building Tuesday afternoon, legislative sources were already predicting the new partnership of the New York Racing Association, Churchill Downs Inc., and the TV Games Network has a strong edge over the group headed by Magna Entertainment in the bidding for New York City Off-Track Betting Corp.
A source close to the sale talks said a decision on the bid is expected by the end of this week from New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who eight years ago made it a campaign vow to sell the OTB corporation.
Just hours after Churchill announced it had abandoned its own bid and joined with NYRA and TVG, NYRA chairman Barry Schwartz was busy shuttling around the Capitol with NYRA president Terry Meyocks for meetings with top legislators on a host of topics, including the pending NYCOTB sale.
"It makes a lot of sense," Schwartz said of the new alliance. "They bring good things to the table."
Schwartz met with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat and longtime friend. The backing of the legislature and Gov. George Pataki will be needed for any sale of NYCOTB.
If successful, Schwartz said NYRA and Churchill, with the technological help of TVG, should be able to take their racing product global.
Before he headed into a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, a Republican and longtime NYRA backer, Schwartz insisted he was not lobbying the lawmakers on the NYCOTB deal. "I don't think the time has come yet for that," he said.
The Magna-led group, which includes Greenwood Racing and two Thoroughbred owners, has already hired a lobbyist to work the Capitol.