11/23/2006 12:00AM

NYRA weighs signal stoppage over debt

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Claiming that New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. owes it $9.1 million in simulcast fees, the New York Racing Association is considering withholding its signal from homes in the city unless that debt is paid.

NYRA would have to give NYC OTB a 45-day written notice before it could pull its signal from homes. OTB branches in the city would not be affected because, under state law, NYRA is required to give all or none of the state's OTB branches its signal.

Bill Nader, the senior vice president for NYRA, said Thursday that officials from OTB promised to call NYRA officials Monday "with some type of payment strategy."

Officials from OTB were unavailable for comment on Thursday.

NYRA's president, Charles Hayward, said that 60 percent of the money OTB owes NYRA goes to help pay purses. He said if NYRA goes an extended period without receiving money from OTB, it could ultimately have an impact on purses.

"Theoretically, this could have an impact on purses, but right now our cash flow projections, at least through the end of January, we don't see that,'' Hayward said.

Hayward said that OTB has delayed payments to NYRA by 90 days, while it has paid other tracks that send OTB their signal in 30 days.

On Nov. 2, the NYRA filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11. On Wednesday, the NYRA has a meeting with a creditor's committee to go over its finances.

"The first thing they're going to say is who owes you money and what efforts have you tried to make to get that money," Hayward said. "Well, if we say we're not doing anything, how prudent is that? It's irresponsible on our part."