Big Brown’s Owners Seek Big Green as Consolation Prize

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Fans of Big Brown are probably still in shock at the colt’s disappointing performance Saturday in the Belmont Stakes, which put an end to a widely anticipated steroid-enhanced gallop to a Triple Crown victory. The majority owners of the thoroughbred are looking for a consolation prize—at taxpayers’ expense.

Newsday reports today that International Equine Acquisitions Holdings Corp. (IEAH), a racing conglomerate and hedge fund that owns a big piece of Big Brown as well as dozens of other race horses, is seeking a property tax break worth at least $1 million in connection with its plan to build an “equine care medical facility” in Nassau County, New York near the Belmont track.

The Town of Hempstead’s Industrial Development Agency is considering a proposal that would reduce property taxes on the $17 million horse hospital through a sale-leaseback arrangement. While many of these deals go through unopposed, there is already some dissent on the IEAH plan coming from the public official whose job is to oversee property taxes. Nassau County Tax Assessor Harvey Levinson told Newsday that he objected to the idea of giving a tax break to the wealthy Wall Streeters who invest in IEAH. “The investors should gamble with their own money,” Levinson was quoted as saying. “The facility should not be removed from the assessment rolls and further erode the tax base…forcing homeowners and small businesses to pay more than their fair share of property taxes.”

One of IEAH’s investors responding by saying: “If it brings jobs, brings revenues and ultimately more taxes than the abatement…I don’t think it matters how wealthy are the investors.” According to Newsday, the facility would employ from 8 to 13 workers. It’s not clear how many of those would involve emptying equine bed pans.

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