04/05/2005 11:00PM

New York group readies plan

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Tim Smith, president of Friends of New York Racing, believes the lobbying group is getting its message across to legislators in Albany that there needs to be a new business model for New York racing in order for the industry to succeed.

"The response in Albany has been surprisingly good to this idea of a new blueprint that would benefit government and racing," Smith said Wednesday afternoon at a press conference in Aqueduct's Equestris restaurant.

Smith said his group would present a first version of its blueprint for New York racing in June and have a final draft by late September or early fall.

"There will be projections - if the state says the rules of the game are X, then the results will be Y," Smith said. "What it will show is there is a way for all stockholders to be better off than they are today."

Smith reiterated that Friends of New York Racing - which includes members of Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment Inc. - does not plan to bid on the New York Racing Association franchise when it expires on Dec. 31, 2007.

Smith was hoping to unveil the results of a study showing the economic impact of Thoroughbred racing on New York, but the study was not finished. Instead, he presented a case study of how Woodbine overcame financial difficulties in the mid-1990's.

Though slot machines played a key role in reviving Woodbine racing, Smith noted that the Ontario government was sympathetic to making changes to a failing industry. Smith hopes that New York's government would react similarly.

Smith also announced the nomination of prominent New York Thoroughbred owners Jack Knowlton and John O'Connor to the group's board of directors, pending final approval at the group's Friday board meeting.