The deadline for bids for the franchise now held by the New York Racing Association has been bumped backed slightly due to the illness of the top staff member overseeing the process.The new deadline will be Aug. 29, said J. Patrick Barrett, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing. Potential bidders have been scrambling to meet the previously agreed-to Aug. 15 deadline. About the only thing the bidders have been able to agree on is the challenge in meeting the quick turnaround for the franchise packages.The committee said the delay is necessary because Robert Williams, the state panel's executive director, was hospitalized June 30 with a serious leg infection. He is now working from home on the request for proposal process."The members of this committee have made tremendous progress in their efforts to craft a workable RFP and ultimately make a recommendation to the governor and the Legislature on who they believe is best suited to hold the state's racing franchise for the next 20 years. We will continue to work as expeditiously as possible until our important work is completed," Barrett said July 14 in a written statement.The changes, to be formally approved by the panel at the end of July, pushes back to July 29 the deadline for the state committee to respond to questions from bidders. Bids are then due August 29. A final report by the committee, which will include its non-binding choice for the franchise, will now be Sept. 29, two weeks later than the first deadline.The franchise to operate Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga racetracks now held by NYRA expires Dec. 31, 2007. Because a new governor is being elected this fall, it is unlikely the franchise decision will be made this year no matter what the committee recommends. Whether a new governor next year wants to re-start the entire process also remains a possibility.