First the Children, Now the Ponies

Albany's budget mess is now threatening the Belmont Stakes

By Hasani Gittens
|  Monday, Dec 21, 2009  |  Updated 12:30 PM EDT
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First the Children, Now the Ponies

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Summer Bird (Left) ridden by jockey Kent Desormeaux wins the 141st Running of The Belmont Stakes as Dunkirk #2 ridden by John Velasquez and Mine That Bird #7 ridden by Calvin Borel finish second and third at Belmont Racetrack on June 6, 2009 in Elmont, New York.

Having already taken candy away from babies (that is, free bus passes away from school children) Albany has now turned to killing  horses. Figuratively speaking at least. 

The New York Racing Association says it's facing a cash crunch that could threaten the Belmont Stakes and thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown because state government still hasn't approved video slot machines at Aqueduct race track.

The Daily News reports Monday that NYRA President Charles Hayward says he may not be able to meet payroll obligations because Albany hasn't awarded the lucrative video slot franchise.

"If we can't make payroll, we have to shut down. There is certainly a possibility that Belmont may not open and there will be no third leg of the Triple Crown," Hayward told the paper.

Gov. David Paterson and legislative leaders have yet to name the winning bidder in a process that has been delayed for several years. But they're now counting on $200 million in upfront payments from a vendor to help address the state's own cash flow problems.

Some of the video slot revenue would go to NYRA, which operates the Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga tracks.

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