Fugue for Tinhorns: Richard Fields Had Big Bet on Spitzer

Mr. Fields further cultivated the connection with governor by assembling a team of political players that included associates of Mr. Spitzer. His partners in Excelsior included Westchester businessman and former New York State comptroller candidate Bill Mulrow, who introduced Mr. Fields to Mr. Spitzer, according to one source. The team also included the Rev. Floyd Flake, a former Congressman and political powerhouse of Queens Democratic politics who was an early supporter of Mr. Spitzer.

“Richard Fields reached out to me,” said Mr. Flake, who is doing community outreach for the group. “I didn’t know him.”

Excelsior also includes Mr. Wynn, Mr. Roth and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey. Mr. Fields’ exact financial stake in the group is something of a mystery.

A due diligence report ordered by the governor and generated by the State Inspector General in June reported Mr. Fields’ stake in Excelsior to be, according to different sources involved with the bid, as high as 50 percent or as low as 35. An earlier report released by the Ad-Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing last year put Mr. Fields’ stake at 47.5 percent.

An Excelsior spokeswoman, Katie Burke, suggested that Mr. Fields’ stake was no longer as high as 50 percent, and said in an e-mail that the group “is centered around the gaming experience of Mr. Wynn, widely considered the best in his field, and Mr. Roth, one of the most respected business leaders in the world.”

She declined to be more specific about Mr. Fields’ current stake.

She also disputed the notion that his status as a major donor to the governor of New York had in any way complicated the prospect of the state awarding his company a massively lucrative contract.

“With regard to the notion that any member of our team is responsible for the hold-up in awarding the franchise, this is simply untrue,” said the spokesperson, Katie Burke. “Our team has complied with every single component of the integrity review process, and will continue to cooperate fully and completely with the governor’s office in this regard.”

Ms. Burke said that Mr. Fields was not available for comment, and a message left at his home was not returned.

A spokeswoman for the governor, Christine Anderson, said, “It’s well known that various racing interests contributed to Eliot’s campaign.”

In terms of the timing of the decision, she said, “There are very real issues that are being sorted out related to the new structure.”

Donald Trump, at least, sees a simple solution to the whole thing.

“They should auction it off, one against the other,” he told The Observer. “I’d love to hold it myself. It would be a lot of fun.”