Five Want to Buy New York City OTB

A partnership between Magna Entertainment, Greenwood Racing, and real estate investors Robert Baker and William Mack is pursuing the purchase of New York City Off-Track Betting Corp.

The partners are one of five groups that submitted formal bids late Friday for the nation's most lucrative OTB franchise. NYCOTB owns 68 betting parlors, three teletheaters, and four restaurant-sports pubs that generated a $1 billion handle last fiscal year.

Magna Entertainment is a racing conglomerate owned by Canadian industrialist Frank Stronach. His company owns seven racetracks. Greenwood Racing owns Philadelphia Park and is a partner in a live Thoroughbred and harness racing satellite service called The Racing Network. Baker and Mack are longtime Thoroughbred owners who have raced top horses with David Cornstein, who is chairman of the board of NYCOTB. Baker, Mack, and Cornstein raced Grand Slam, who finished second in the 1998 Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), and Scorpion who ran in this year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).

Other NYCOTB suitors include a partnership between the New York Racing Association and the TV Games Network, a 24-hour horse racing and wagering service with financial ties to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association; Churchill Downs Inc.; Catskill Off-Track Betting, another New York State OTB franchise; and Nomura Securities, the leading brokerage firm in Japan with 54 offices around the world and $137.4 billion in assets.

New York City is selling the OTB as part of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's efforts to privatize more city-owned operations. A city official said no specific timeframe exists to award the bid. He said city leaders will analyze the proposals in short order to keep the project moving forward.