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Paterson pledges to find funds to bail out NYRA

Gov. Paterson pledged that New York will find

Gov. Paterson pledged that New York will find the cash needed to sustain horse racing at the Belmont Park and Saratoga tracks. (June 7, 2008) Photo Credit: AP

ALBANY - New York will find the cash needed to sustain horse racing at the Belmont Park and Saratoga tracks, Gov. David A. Paterson pledged .

The New York Racing Association, which operates the two tracks and Aqueduct in Queens, is running out of money. Without a bailout, its president said Monday that the Belmont season would be cut short after the June 5 Belmont Stakes, and the Saratoga season would be canceled altogether.

"That's not going to happen," Paterson said, referring to a NYRA shutdown. "We have a plan to loan NYRA, in the short term, money to get through Saratoga, and we're working on a long-term plan to help them beyond that."

He and others hope to provide $17 million to make up for payments owed to NYRA by the bankrupt New York City Off-Track Betting Corp., which now is a state entity.

Lawmakers were noncommittal, however.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said, "I support NYRA, but I haven't seen the bill."

A spokesman for the State Senate's Democratic majority added, "Before we consider a taxpayer bailout of NYRA we need to know how much money NYRA actually has."

The Senate's Republican minority has twice attempted to include NYRA aid in emergency spending bills required to keep state government operating in the absence of a budget. The amendments have been ruled out of order because the bills cannot be changed.

A NYRA spokesman declined to comment.

Separately Tuesday, Sen. Dean Skelos of Rockville Centre, the minority leader, renewed his push for slotlike gambling machines at Belmont. During a public leaders' meeting, Skelos got Paterson to express support for the machines, which already have been approved for nearby Aqueduct.

"I'm not opposed to it, [but] there are members of the Legislature and leaders here who have a problem with that," Paterson said, referring to Silver.

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