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Group says cash woes threaten Belmont Stakes

Wire Reports

The New York Racing Assn. said Monday it is facing a cash crunch that could threaten the Belmont Stakes and thoroughbred horse racing’s Triple Crown because the state government still hasn’t approved video slot machines at the Aqueduct racetrack.

NYRA President Charlie Hayward said that unless state lawmakers agree to get video slots up and running soon at Aqueduct, the NYRA may need another $30-million bailout from the state to save the racing season at Belmont, which includes the storied final leg of the Triple Crown.

Such threats have been made before by the private group, which runs thoroughbred racing and state tracks under a franchise. But Hayward insisted the NYRA is down to about $11 million in cash, $4 million short of projections.

“We think we’re going to burn through that $11 million sometime in May or June,” Hayward told the Associated Press.

He said if the NYRA can’t be assured of a steady flow of cash from video slots at Aqueduct or from the state, which is also trying to address deficits, then the racing group wouldn’t open the Belmont track on Long Island this spring.

BASEBALL

Yankees’ luxury tax: $25 million

Winning came with a hefty price for the New York Yankees.

The World Series champions were hit with a luxury tax of nearly $25.69 million Monday, according to information received by clubs and obtained by the AP.

New York is the only team to pay a tax for this season and has crossed the threshold in all seven years since the tax started. According to the collective bargaining agreement, the Yankees must send a check to the commissioner’s office by Jan. 31.

The Yankees have been billed $174 million of the tax’s $190 million total since 2003. The only other teams to pay have been Boston ($13.9 million for 2004-07), Detroit ($1.3 million for 2008) and the Angels ($927,059 for 2004).

Free-agent pitcher Jason Marquis and the Washington Nationals have agreed to a two-year contract, pending a physical, two people familiar with the deal told the AP.

SOCCER

Messi, Marta win FIFA honors

Lionel Messi added FIFA’s world player-of-the-year award to his growing list of accolades, completing a nearly perfect campaign in which his club won an unprecedented trio of Spanish and European titles.

The women’s award went to Marta of the Los Angeles Sol for the fourth year in a row.

The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan was voted the U.S. Soccer Federation’s male athlete of the year for the third time, and Hope Solo became the first goalkeeper to win the women’s award.

ETC.

Ellison reportedly buys tennis event

The prestigious Indian Wells tennis tournament, known now as the BNP Paribas Open, reportedly has been sold to Larry Ellison, billionaire founder of software company Oracle, who is a tennis fan.

The tournament, origina- ted, owned and operated by former tennis stars Charlie Pasarell and Ray Moore, and with such investors as Pete Sampras, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and the U.S. Tennnis Assn., is played in March and is the best-attended tennis event in the world after the four Grand Slam events.

The official announcement is expected this morning.

-- Bill Dwyre Jimmie Johnson, the first driver in NASCAR history to win four consecutive titles, earned mainstream recognition when he was honored as the male athlete of the year by members of the AP.

Johnson received 42 votes from editors at U.S. newspapers that are members of the AP. Tennis star Roger Federer (30 votes) and Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt (29) were the only other athletes with totals in double digits.


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