Steve Wynn ends
bid to buy NYRA

Mar 27, 2007 5:41 AM

Casino mogul Steve Wynn has dropped out of the competition for New York’s franchise to operate thoroughbred racing, a spokesman for Gov. Eliot Spitzer confirmed last week.

That leaves five bidders seeking the state’s franchise to operate Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga racetracks and the video slot machines at Aqueduct.

Wynn’s Thoroughbred Racing-NY was a surprise and late entry into the competition. The group joined the race in March and wasn’t involved in a Pataki administration review of final bidders in October. The next review is scheduled for April.

"Although we are aware of the state’s rationale for requiring a very short timetable, our client has concluded that it is not possible for them to provide all of the detailed information sought and develop a proposal they can be proud of within the limited time period provided," Wynn’s spokesman, Sid Davidoff said in a letter.

The group looks forward to working with Spitzer on other, unnamed projects, according to the letter.

Davidoff wasn’t able to further comment about the "unnamed projects."

No reason was given for the withdrawal, which Pataki spokesman Paul Larrabee confirmed. Wynn’s decision was first announced in Blood Horse magazine.

The remaining bidders will present their proposals in public hearings on April 10 and April 11.

The hopefuls now include: Empire Racing; a Saratoga Springs group that includes Churchill Downs of Louisville; the New York Racing Association that has held the franchise since 1955; Excelsior Racing Associates, a group headed by New York Yankees partner Steve Swindal and casino developer Richard Fields; Capital Play, an Australian consortium now based in New York City; and Catskill Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.

The NYRA franchise expires Dec. 31. The next franchise holder could run racing and improve and maintain racetracks and related facilities for up to 20 years.