NYRA approved for $25 milllion loan from state

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After warning that they might have to end horse racing early following Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, the New York Racing Association got a reprieve: Gov. David Paterson and the state Legislature approved a $25 million loan to the organization that will allow the racing season at Belmont and Saratoga to continue.

“The board of directors of the New York Racing Association, along with its management and dedicated employees, are grateful for the state Legislature’s approval ... of a $25 million loan, which guarantees world-class thoroughbred racing at Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and Aqueduct Racetrack,” NYRA Chairman Steve Duncker said in a statement.

The loan was included in legislation to fund state government operations since the state budget, due April 1, had not yet been agreed upon.

The legislation passed last week and was signed by Paterson.

NYRA had warned it might have to suspend racing at Belmont after the Belmont States and lay off workers because of its financial situation, which included millions of dollars it is owed by the Off-Track Betting Corp.

The organization was also relying on monies from the oft-delayed process to award the contract to operate 4,500 video lottery terminals at Aqueduct in Ozone Park.

A new request for proposals process for the contract began last month and a winner is expected to be announced Aug. 3.

“We await the state’s August recommendation of the firm to develop and operate the Aqueduct VLT facility so that the revenues fundamental to our 2008 franchise agreement with the state can commence and NYRA can continue its leadership role in the North American thoroughbred industry,” Duncker said.

NYRA can use eventual proceeds from the VLTs to pay off the $25 million loan, according to the legislation.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 5:46 pm, October 10, 2011
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