06/13/2005 11:00PM

New York slots deal near


The New York Racing Association, its horsemen, and the state's breeding fund continue to negotiate over a revenue-sharing compact for slot machines as a bill mandating the splits for horsemen and breeders makes its way through the legislative process.

The negotiations, which have been ongoing since the New York legislature passed a bill earlier this year to jump-start a slot-machine project at NYRA's Aqueduct racetrack, have not reached a conclusion, according to officials.

"When we started this process, the horsemen had probably three or four big concerns," Charlie Hayward, president of NYRA, said Tuesday. "We're down to only one, and I think we can get this all wrapped up by the end of the week."

"We're pretty close to a deal," said Alan Foreman, the counsel for the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "We haven't finalized anything, but I think we can get everything ironed out in the next 24 hours or so."

Under an earlier version of the law that legalized slots at tracks in 2001, horsemen and breeders were given a defined split of the revenue from the machines, but those splits were omitted this year because of a court ruling that said the legislature could not use slots revenues to subsidize horse racing.

That ruling, however, was reversed this year by a higher court after the new law was passed. As a result, the breeders have asked legislators to support a bill that would restore the splits.

That bill has already passed out of the Assembly's Racing and Wagering Committee. According to the bill, the mandated splits would not take effect if NYRA and its horsemen reached a deal within 90 days of the bill being passed.

On Monday, Barry Ostrager, president of the NYTB, sent a letter to Sen. Joseph Bruno, the Senate majority leader, urging Bruno to support the bill in the Senate.

Representatives of the NYTB did not return phone calls on Tuesday.