04/12/2007 12:00AM

Some Empire partners divest

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Four minority partners in Empire Racing Associates divested portions of their stakes in the company earlier this month because of an inability to file financial statements required by New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer as part of his requirement that bidders for the New York Racing Association's franchise submit to a review, a spokesman for Empire said on Thursday.

The Empire partners included horse owner and breeder Marylou Whitney, real-estate developer Stephen Green, upstate businesswoman Robin Malatino, and Thomas Newkirk, the president of Saratoga National Golf Club, according to David Vermillion, a spokesman for Empire. All four sold shares in the company that reduced their stakes below 2.5 percent, the trigger to submit detailed financial statements to Spitzer's office.

"This is not an indication that they did not want to submit to the review, but rather that they had one week to file an enormous amount of paperwork and weren't able to comply with the requirement," Vermillion said. "Some of them literally weren't even in town."

In March, Spitzer's office announced that any significant partner in any of the companies bidding for the NYRA franchise would have to submit paperwork by March 31 for the integrity review.

Whitney had previously owned a 4 percent stake in Empire. Vermillion said she donated 2 percent of the stake to the Backstretch Employees Assistance Team, a charity that provides help for grooms and other backstretch workers.