03/10/2004 1:00AM

NYRA spurns Magna offer


The New York Racing Association's board of directors rejected an offer from Magna Entertainment Corp. to explore a business partnership during a meeting on Wednesday, NYRA's chairman Barry Schwartz, said.

The offer, made first in October during a breakfast meeting between Schwartz and Magna's chairman, Frank Stronach, did not represent any specific business strategy or partnership, Schwartz said. The offer was also discussed informally over the past two weeks by Schwartz and Magna's chief executive officer, Jim McAlpine.

"It was just a philosophical discussion, no more, no less," Schwartz said. "It's just not something we want to entertain right now, but there are some things maybe we could work together on down the road."

The offer was first discussed at a time when NYRA was facing imminent indictments from state and federal prosecutors. But in December, NYRA reached a deal with prosecutors that spared the association from a trial.

Magna and NYRA have clashed on several occasions in the past. Three years ago, Magna was selected by New York City as the winning bidder over NYRA for the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation. In response, NYRA officials lobbied the legislature to reject the deal to sell the OTB company.