Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing, a group that includes several prominent horsemen, Aug. 23 announced their decision to support the New York Racing Association in its bid for the 20-year franchise to operate Saratoga, Aqueduct, and Belmont Park.
“After reviewing the proposals of the four bidders, we feel the racing franchise should be awarded to the New York Racing Association, and that the NYRA should be in charge of the entire operation," read a statement issued by the group. “NYRA has the experience of conducting high-quality racing for over 50 years, and has recently undergone fundamental, government-supervised management changes which have resulted in a level of operational integrity unsurpassed in American racing.”
The group originally planned not to endorse a specific party in the bidding process for the franchise, but according to the statement felt “compelled to issue an update of… position in anticipation of Governor Spitzer’s promised selection of an operator at the conclusion of the current Saratoga race meet.”
In response to the statement issued by the group, Jeff Perlee, CEO of Empire Racing, issued a statement of his own.
“Empire Racing had been repeatedly assured that the involvement of key figures from NYRA, including trustee Charles Wait and Ed Lewi, created a conflict of interest that would preclude the group from endorsing a specific bidder,” the statement read. “In fact, the group denied our request for a meeting to discuss Empire’s plans for economic development in the Saratoga region because, they said, they did not want to appear to be favoring a particular bidder. We believed this. Today it looks like everyone was duped. A few weeks of taxpayer-funded success in Saratoga can’t make up for decades of financial mismanagement, bankruptcy, and failure at the top.”
Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing issued “nine points” that have been largely adopted and endorsed by the four current bidders for the franchise and the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. (See Aug. 21, 2006 related article.).
The Concerned Citizens for Saratoga Racing are: Donald Adam of Courtland Farms, Robert Barney of Meadow Springs Stables, Cot Campbell of Dogwood Stables, Robert Clay of Three Chimneys Farm, Hall of Fame former jockey Angel Cordero Jr., Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce member Joseph Dalton, Tracy Farmer of Shadowland Farm, Ed Lewi of Ed Lewi Associates, Hall of Fame trainer William Mott, John Oxley of Farm Lead Farm, James Pabis of the Management Recruiters of Saratoga, Tom Roohan of Roohan Realty, Harry Snyder, Esq., Rod J. Sutton, Charles Wait, David Wickerham, Dr. William Wilmot of Stepwise Farm, and Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito.