05/07/2007 11:00PM

Bill would boost NYTHA funding


The New York Senate passed two bills Tuesday afternoon that would increase funding for the state's horsemen's association on a one-year basis and allow racetracks and off-track betting companies to coordinate racing schedules without fear of running afoul of antitrust concerns.

Both bills originated in the Senate's Racing and Wagering Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Bill Larkin, and will be sent to the Assembly's Racing and Wagering Committee for deliberation.

The first bill would double the amount of funding that the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association receives from purses paid at New York racetracks, from 1opercent of the total purse outlay to 2 percent.

The money derived from the increase in funding - about $1.2 million over a one-year period - would be used to pay the NYTHA's legal fees related to the New York Racing Association's bankruptcy case, according to Larkin's adviser Steve Casscles and the horsemen's lobbyist, Jack Hardy. NYRA filed for bankruptcy late last year, and the horsemen's association, citing unpaid purses, is one of its creditors.

Hardy said the horsemen's association has already paid $142,000 in legal fees, owes another $186,000, and is projecting that the fees will average $50,000 to $60,000 a month. The bill would increase the funding for one year, and any amount not spent on legal fees would be subject to the same laws restricting the money to administrative costs or benevolence programs.

"Our costs to protect our interests are very significant, and they're not going away," Hardy said. "We don't have so much money that we can take on this kind of extra expense without another revenue source."

The second bill was initially passed in 2002 and vetoed. It was resurrected this year to address the need of racetracks to work with each other on racing schedules to maximize the exposure of live racing signals in the simulcast market, Casscles said.