05/14/2010 12:00AM

New York OTB to lose Pimlico next week


The signal from Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore will be unavailable to customers of New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation after Saturday's Preakness Stakes card because of concerns about OTB's finances raised by the New York regulators, racing officials said Friday.

The decision to bar the signal from New York City OTB's parlors and account-wagering operation was made on Friday afternoon, shortly after the New York State Racing and Wagering Board backtracked on a decision to pull the Pimlico signal from OTB as of Friday morning. Joe Mahoney, a spokesperson for the board, said on Friday afternoon that the board decided to allow betting on the signal by New York City OTB customers on Friday and Saturday because of the interest by racing fans in the cards Pimlico will offer those days.

"This is the best result for the racing fans," Mahoney said.

Pimlico's 20-day spring meet began on April 17. After Saturday's Preakness card, Pimlico will not run again until next Thursday, and the meet will close next Saturday.

The decision to bar the Pimlico signal follows the board's decision earlier this month to bar wagering by New York City OTB customers on Arlington Park near Chicago, Chester Downs in Pennsylvania, Louisiana Downs, and Thistledown racetrack in Ohio.

According to Mahoney, the board has declined to approve any simulcasting contracts for New York City OTB until the corporation "satisfactorily" responds to a request to provide the board with additional information about its financial situation. New York City OTB, which is owned by the state, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, and it is reorganizing under the protection of Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code.

"We're not approving anything until we're satisfied that they can meet their financial obligations," Mahoney said. Discussions remain ongoing between the board and OTB about the company's policies for paying racetracks while in bankruptcy reorganization, Mahoney said.

New York City OTB officials did not immediately respond to phone calls on Friday.

Scott Daruty, the president of the simulcast-marketing company TrackNet, which sells the signal for Pimlico on behalf of the track's parent company, MI Developments, said that board officials contacted him on Friday morning to tell him it had not approved a simulcast contract for Pimlico between TrackNet and New York City OTB. He said that he was told that the board had "not approved or denied the signal," but that it would be pulled on Friday for the remainder of the meet.

Several hours later, the board reversed itself and allowed OTB to take the Pimlico signal through Saturday.

"I'll be honest, I'm in the dark on this," Daruty said by cell phone on Friday from Pimlico. "I'm getting all of this second-hand. We didn't know there was a problem until this morning."

Daruty said that New York City OTB continues to pay TrackNet on schedule for the signals the company has been allowed to take. "There were some payments related to the bankruptcy, but since then, there hasn't been a problem," Daruty said.