01/15/2008 1:00AM

NYRA's exclusivity extended


A U.S. bankruptcy judge on Monday approved a one-month extension to the period in which the New York Racing Association is the only entity allowed to submit a reorganization plan to the court, an attorney for NYRA said.

Judge James Peck of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York approved the extension at the request of NYRA, which is hoping that legislators in New York will soon work out a long-term extension to its franchise.

The period of exclusivity had been set to expire on Tuesday, but will now be extended to Feb.o11, according to Brian Rosen, one of NRA's bankruptcy attorneys.

NYRA's franchise to operate Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga expired on Dec. 31, but the association continues to conduct racing operations under a short-term agreement negotiated with the state that expires on Jan. 23. Negotiations on a long-term extension to the franchise - an agreement that has to be approved by Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the state assembly, and the state senate - have been conducted on a sporadic basis since the short-term agreement was signed on Dec. 31, and talks to work out a long-term pact are expected to continue in earnest this week.

NYRA has already submitted a reorganization plan to the court, but that plan's financial projections are based on a long-term extension. As a result, the court cannot act on the reorganization plan unless and until a long-term extension is approved that closely aligns with the plan.

Rosen said that the short-term extension to the exclusive period was supported by the state - which is among NYRA's creditors - and the association's creditors' committee. The reorganization plan has been approved by 97 percent of NYRA's creditors.