03/28/2007 11:00PM

Excelsior: Swindal still part of team

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Excelsior Racing Associates plans to continue bidding on the franchise held by the New York Racing Association with Steve Swindal as part of the operation, the group said in a statement released on Thursday morning.

Excelsior released the statement in the midst of speculation about the future of Swindal, a part-owner of the New York Yankees, after his wife, a daughter of the Yankees' managing partner, George Steinbrenner, filed for divorce.

"Steve Swindal is an integral part of our team," the statement said. "Over the last decade with the New York Yankees, he has gained extensive experience in managing a world-class sports franchise, and will bring that experience to bear with the Excelsior team moving forward."

Swindal has been married to Jennifer Steinbrenner for 23 years. A statement released by the Yankees' public-relations company said that the couple were "amicably" ending their marriage.

Swindal is part of a group that owns a 47.5 percent interest in Excelsior. The group includes his wife, along with George Steinbrenner's sons Harold and Henry and his daughter Jessica. That group, called Kinsman Racing Club, owns half the 47.5 percent interest. The other half is owned by Sarabel Racing Club, which is a partnership headed by the Johnston family in Chicago, the owners of Balmoral Park. The Johnstons are longtime friends of the Steinbrenners.

The other principals in Excelsior are Richard Fields, a casino developer who owns a 47.5 percent stakes, and Tishman Speyer, a real-estate development company, which owns the remaining 5 percent.

Swindal is expected to lose his positions with the Yankees as a result of the divorce, according to reports in New York newspapers. Swindal's share in the Yankees has not been made public, and any separation from the Steinbrenner family would clearly complicate Excelsior's bid for the franchise.

Late last year, the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing, a state panel set up to evaluate bidders for the franchise, ranked Excelsior first among three bidders for the franchise, which expires on Dec. 31, 2007. However, Gov. Spitzer, who was elected last year, has said that the decision of the committee was non-binding, and he has convened a new panel to evaluate bids. The new panel is scheduled to hold hearings on April 10 and April 11.