Wynn Group Seeking Racetrack Operator for Joint Venture

The Steve Wynn-led group interested in obtaining New York’s Thoroughbred franchise says it wants to add a racetrack operator to its joint venture – and it could include entities already lined up with other bidders.
 
Sid Davidoff, a lawyer and influential lobbyist who is representing the new joint venture, said the group is already reaching out to track owners to join the Las Vegas casino developer and two other partners who this week signaled their interest in running Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga racetracks.
 
 “We’re going to speak to anybody who is willing to talk to us,’’ Davidoff said. He said that “could include present bidders’’ as well as track owners who decided last year not to bid on the franchise now held by the New York Racing Association.
 
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer recently invited anyone interested in the franchise to enter a public process to unveil their plans for the tracks. Spitzer said he did not feel obligated to necessarily follow the recommendations of a state panel formed before he became governor Jan. 1; that panel recommended Excelsior Racing Associates over Empire Racing Associates and NYRA.
 
Six groups this week said they want the franchise: the Excelsior, Empire, NYRA, along with Capital Play, an Australian company, Catskill Regional Off Track Betting, and Thoroughbred Racing – NY, which is a joint venture of Wynn, California developer Richard Bronson and Steve Roth, a major New York City developer whose company owns more than 60 million square feet of properties around the nation.
 
Davidoff declined to discuss any specific plans the group has for the tracks.
 
Earlier, the group said it had already tapped a racetrack operator as a partner in the joint venture. But Davidoff said there had been a miscommunication in his office, and said the group is now talking with track owners about joining the venture.
 
North America’s biggest track owners are already lined up with bidders. NYRA is going after the franchise on its own, while Magna Entertainment, Churchill and Woodbine is aligned with Empire. Davidoff would not say if the Wynn group has already contacted any of those racetrack companies, or what other operators the joint venture may be in discussions.

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