04/08/2007 11:00PM

Wynn joins Excelsior investors


Powerful casino developer Steve Wynn and two other real estate developers have joined Excelsior Racing Associates, the group bidding on the franchise held by the New York Racing Association, Excelsior announced late on Monday.

Wynn, the chairman of Wynn Resorts; Richard Bronson, the chief executive of the Bronson Companies; and Steven Roth, the chief executive of Vornado Realty Trust, joined Excelsior's partnership just one day before hearings scheduled in New York for public presentations of the bidders' proposals. The hearings have been called by New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer to evaluate plans to award the franchise, which expires on Dec. 31 and includes the right to operate Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga and a casino at Aqueduct.

A release from Excelsior did not include the size of the stakes purchased by the new partners.

In early March, Wynn, Vornado, and Bronson indicated to Spitzer that the group planned to bid on its own for the franchise. However, the group later notified the governor's office that they did not plan to make a bid, citing a short run-up to the date of the presentations. Excelsior had first filed a proposal for the franchise last year.

Last week, a group owning 23.75 percent of Excelsior dropped out of the partnership. The group, Kinsman Racing, was owned by four members of the family of George Steinbrenner and his daughter's husband, Steve Swindal, a general partner in the New York Yankees. The group dropped out of Excelsior after Swindal's wife filed for divorce.

At the time of the pullout, the remaining stakeholders in Excelsior were the Johnston family of Illinois, who are the owners of the harness track Balmoral Park, and Richard Fields, a casino and real estate developer.