04/08/2008 11:00PM

NYRA to seek another hearing postponement

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The New York Racing Association will ask a bankruptcy judge on Friday to postpone a hearing to approve its reorganization plan because of ongoing negotiations with state officials on a document regarding details of its 25-year franchise extension, NYRA officials said on Wednesday.

If the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York agrees, the postponement will be the third for NYRA since the legislature passed a bill on Feb. 13 granting the association a 25-year extension in exchange for the state taking undisputed title to NYRA's three racetracks. NYRA's president, Charles Hayward, said that the association's attorneys would likely ask for a postponement of at least one week, or possibly two.

Hayward and Morgan Hook, a spokesman for New York Gov. David Paterson, said that negotiations over the agreement were stuck on minor differences in language. Both said that they did not anticipate any long-term problems over the negotiations.

"The process is moving forward," Hook said. "There may be minor changes in the language, but that's a process, and we're hopeful it will get done before April 27."

NYRA is operating under a short-term extension that expires on April 27. In addition, the bankruptcy court has extended until May 2 a period in which NYRA is the only entity allowed to submit a lan for its reorganization.

Negotiations over the documents putting into effect the extension have been compromised because of the sudden resignation last month of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Hayward said that the state did not respond to NYRA's proposal on the document until Monday.

"I do think we need to get this wrapped up before we go to Belmont," Hayward said. "It's in everybody's best interest to get this done." NYRA's racing operations shift from Aqueduct to Belmont on April 30.

The franchise extension includes language that is intended to jump-start construction of a slot-machine facility at Aqueduct. Proposals to operate the casino are due to the state on Friday.