Yonkers Has Prayers Answered With License

Maybe Yonkers Raceway had some divine intervention, but the Standardbred track's 2001 racing license finally was awarded in mid-January by state regulators.

The New York State Racing and Wagering Board in December refused to grant Yonkers a 2001 racing license because it failed to produce an evacuation plan in the event of a fire or some other emergency. But it was Yonkers Raceway's response about the lack of an emergency plan that left regulators not only not smiling, but in a mood last month to delay issuance of a license.

On a standard form about the track's operations, the racing board asked what procedure is in place in the event of a natural disaster. "We are developing a plan, presently our number one option is to say the Rosary," the track said.

By the time the racing board met again in January, Yonkers rushed an evacuation plan to the regulators, and the panel granted its license to begin racing. Board chairman Michael Hoblock, who derided the response from Yonkers back in December, did not return calls for comment.

Meanwhile, the board deferred, again, a 2001 racing application by Vernon Downs, another harness track. Vernon Downs did remedy payment of a debt to a breeders' fund, but the racing board still wants details about how the track will fund operations this year.

Stacey Walker, an agency spokeswoman, said the matter was expected to be resolved within weeks, so the track could begin planning its April opening.