03/22/2007 11:00PM

Wynn group bows out of bidding

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A group led by casino mogul Steve Wynn that had expressed interest in taking over the franchise to run racing at New York's three major Thoroughbred tracks informed state officials on Friday that it has withdrawn from the bidding process.

Attorneys representing Thoroughbred Racing - New York, a group that includes Wynn and real estate developers Richard Bronson and Steve Roth, sent a three-paragraph letter on Friday to Gov. Eliot Spitzer's special counsel, Richard Rifkin, that said the group did not have enough time "to prepare a proposal with the thoughtful consideration that the State of New York and the sport of thoroughbred racing deserves."

In reopening the bidding process earlier this month to run racing at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga, and a proposed slots casino at Aqueduct, Spitzer said that all new or amended proposals had to be in by March 31. The New York Racing Association currently holds the franchise through Dec. 31, 2007.

"Although we are aware of the State's rationale for requiring a very short timetable, our client has concluded that it is not possible for them to provide all of the detailed information sought and develop a proposal they can be proud of within the limited time period provided," read the letter, signed by Sid Davidoff, the attorney representing the Wynn group.

The Wynn group was one of three new groups to enter the bidding process. The others were Capital Party Play and Catskill Regional Off-Track Betting. Those groups joined Excelsior Racing Associates, Empire Racing Associates, and NYRA, which had all submitted bids to the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing. Late last year, Excelsior won a non-binding recommendation from that group.

When the Wynn group announced its intentions to bid on the franchise, it had not aligned itself with a racetrack operator. NYRA president and CEO Charlie Hayward said that a representative of one of the parties involved with the Wynn group contacted NYRA this week, but "there wasn't anything of a substantive nature that ever went anywhere," Hayward said.

Meanwhile, NYRA is expected to be in bankruptcy court on Thursday at which time it will seek approval of its management contract with MGM-Mirage to operate a 4,500 slot-machine parlor at Aqueduct.