01/05/2007 1:00AM

Excelsior opposes NYRA action

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Excelsior Racing Associates, the private partnership that is seeking the franchise held by the New York Racing Association, has joined New York State in asking a federal judge to throw out NYRA's petition for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The motion, which was filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday, asks Judge James Peck of the bankruptcy court to dismiss NYRA's bankruptcy claim on the grounds that NYRA's assertion in its petition that it owns the racetracks is false. New York state has also disputed NYRA's claim to the properties, which include Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga Racecourse.

Excelsior said in its motion to the court that NYRA's claim on the properties undermines the state panel's work.

"Excelsior and its principals have invested substantial sums of money and thousands of hours of time developing the best possible bid proposal and business plan to operate the racetracks," the motion states. "NYRA's bankruptcy proceedings and its complaint threaten to undo the RFP process and to deny Excelsior's valuable interest in becoming the next franchisee."

Last month, Excelsior was ranked highest among three bidders seeking the NYRA franchise by a state panel charged with issuing recommendations on requests for proposals to operate the franchise. NYRA's current franchise expires at the end of this year.

A hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 6 for Excelsior's attorneys to argue their case before Judge Peck.