03/18/2007 11:00PM

NYRA's protection extended

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A federal bankruptcy judge on Friday ruled that the New York Racing Association would be the only party eligible to file a bankruptcy reorganization plan until at least July 16, the lead attorney for NYRA said on Monday.

The extension of the so-called exclusive period will allow NYRA to protect itself from any reorganization plans submitted by its creditors until the July 16 date. NYRA had appeared at the hearing on Friday to argue that the date should be extended until January 2008.

Brian Rosen, NYRA's attorney, said that the association wanted the exclusive period extended because of the many unresolved issues related to its franchise and a lawsuit it filed against the state earlier this year.

"It was our position that there are a lot of things that still need to be resolved, involving the franchise, the lawsuit, and the land claim," Rosen said. "We don't know if we're going to be running the company, we don't know if we'll have the franchise, we don't know if it's our land. That's a lot of big ifs."

NYRA filed for bankruptcy late last year. The association's franchise to operate New York's three biggest Thoroughbred tracks expires on Dec. 31. In its bankruptcy filing, the association argued, counter to the state, that it owns the land under its three racetracks.

Friday's hearing was initially slated to hear an argument by the state to dismiss the bankruptcy, but the state agreed to table its argument at NYRA's request. The state has argued in papers filed with the court that NYRA is ineligible to be a debtor because the association owes its existence to the state.