New York politicians in last-minute bid to save OTB jobs

Jun 17, 2008 7:00 PM

Burnt Offerings by Stan Bergstein |

Paterson also intends, according to the well-informed Albany political reporter James Odato, to consolidate the state’s seven OTBs into a single statewide unit.

That did not sit well with at least one of the state’s seven OTB district presidents, John Signor of Capital District OTB, located in Schnectady but covering Albany as well. Signor has been working on a cooperative plan that would centralize operations between Capital and Catskill District and Suffolk OTB on Long Island, and even provide for coordinated marketing, including the tracks.

It is likely that if New York City OTB gets what Mayor Bloomberg wants, the money will come from the tracks. They have been hammered since OTB arrived on the scene 37 years ago, and if the state decides to give OTB more, it means inevitably that it will give the tracks less.

While all of this noisy bickering was going on, the furor over Big Brown refuses to die.

Jockey Kent Desormeaux is struggling mightily to justify his ride, which has been widely criticized, most loudly by his noisy trainer, Rick Dutrow.

Desormeaux, in thrashing around to justify his actions, blamed the starter of the race, who was standing two feet out on the track in front of the horses "for a better view," dressed very visibly in a blue jacket and white pants. He very well could have caused Big Brown to bolt outward, which he did. Either way, Desormeaux and Dutrow supposedly kissed and made up, but that did not stop the barrage of scathing media scorching received by Dutrow.

Sally Jenkins, writing in her customary fire and brimstone style in the Washington Post, called Dutrow "a graceless loudmouth and chronic doper," and referred to Big Brown’s majority owners as "irretrievably crummy."

One of the most interesting splashes in the tidal wave of reporting was an item from Paul Moran, a veteran columnist of the racing writing wars. He said a knowledgeable source in Lexington, Kentucky, told him that the reported $50 million dollar deal with Robert Clay’s Three Chimney Farms for breeding rights to Big Brown was in reality a $5 million dollar deal for 10% interest, and that the $50 million was simply an extrapolation of the 10% into total value if fully funded.

If true, this is more of the annoying fact distortions that have characterized the doings of Michael Iavarone, who runs the IEAH outfit that is the major owner of the now devalued Derby and Preakness winner.

Moran, never one to pull punches in his long writing career, said of the $50 million claim, "Like all things IEAH, this one is not what it seems."