The New York Racing Association says it needs a $30 million bailout — or it may have to scrub next year’s Belmont Stakes.
Maybe it does.
But if the scandal-scarred racetrack operator wants any credibility in the matter, it would do well to open its books to responsible oversight.
Instead, NYRA is fighting document subpoenas issued yesterday by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli — asserting that DiNapoli has no oversight authority in its affairs.
That’s Triple-Crown nonsense, of course.
Just last year, the association got a $105 million state handout and a 25-year franchise extension, all for agreeing to drop a dubious land claim at Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga race courses.
The extension was probably a mistake on Albany’s part — NYRA has rarely exhibited good faith in its dealings with the state — but that’s the relevant document now.
And NYRA consented to oversight from the comptroller’s office in that agreement. Which makes perfect sense: Keeping tabs on taxpayer dough is DiNapoli’s job.
Besides, NYRA is the last outfit in New York to deserve the benefit of the doubt.
It was the subject of a federal indictment in 2003, and subsequent investigations have uncovered the systematic hiding of profits, no-bid contracts and excessive executive junkets.
Who knows what DiNapoli might find this time?
As to NYRA’s claims of hardship: Well, it might have a case. The corporation had been expecting a share of the revenue to be gained by installing video slot machines at Aqueduct — a project that’s been tied up in Albany for years.
Moreover, thoroughbred racing in New York — once a major contributor to the state economy — is a shadow of its former self.
The idea that it would ever recover from a cancellation of the Belmont Stakes is fanciful beyond belief — almost as bizarre, in fact, as the notion that NYRA is leveling such a threat in the first place.
Unclear is whether the folks who run things — accustomed for decades to living off the fat of the land — can adjust to the new reality.
DiNapoli, it appears, aims to find out.
Good for him.