03/19/2008 12:00AM

NYRA bankruptcy hearing postponed


A hearing in U.S. bankruptcy court on Wednesday to consider a reorganization plan filed by the New York Racing Association was postponed until April 11 because of further delays in reaching an agreement with the state over NYRA's property.

The postponement is the second this year since the New York legislature passed a bill on Feb. 13 granting NYRA a 25-year franchise extension in exchange for the state taking undisputed title to the racetracks. NYRA officials have said that the postponements are related to difficulties in reaching the settlement agreement with the state because of the complexity of the deal and the recent resignation of Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who stepped down from office last week. Several Spitzer administration officials have played roles in crafting the settlement agreement.

John Lee, a spokesman for NYRA, said that the latest delay was accountable to the "unprecedented amount of legal paperwork" involved in drafting the agreement to give the state title to the racetracks. Lee also cited Spitzer's resignation in the wake of being linked to a prostitution ring.

"Clearly there have been some distractions over the last week," Lee said.

NYRA's legal counsel, Brian Rosen, did not return phone calls.

NYRA is operating under a short-term extension granted by a state regulatory agency that expires on April 27. NYRA received the extension on March 7, shortly after asking the bankruptcy court to postpone its scheduled March 5 court date.

A reorganization plan that NYRA filed before the legislation was passed on Feb. 13 was approved in December by 97 percent of the association's creditors. That plan, however, was based on a 30-year extension, and so NYRA has also needed to amend the new reorganization plan to reflect the elements of the Feb. 13 bill.