Jeff Gural issued a release today talking about how people should nominate their horses to the Meadowlands Stakes races where the first payments are due February 15. Sounds good right?
But then comes the following: If there are other stakes at the same time as the Meadowlands stakes it might be a good idea to double stake your horse if the payments are not too great as there is certainly no guarantee that we are going to be able to work out a long-term lease. I think the Governor has made it clear that he will allow a six-day meet in August to insure that the Hambletonian and Oaks are raced per the contract with the Hambletonian Society and my guess is there will be several other stakes races during that same period depending on the availability of purse money.
The biggest problem, as I see it, is how you finance a racetrack that does not have slots when it is obvious that wagering on horse racing continues to decline as our older customers either die or become too old to come to the tracks. And he goes on. It is worth reading the whole release.
Certainly the leasing of the Meadowlands is no slam dunk. We can only hope that Mr. Gural can make it work. His hope is to know before the March 15 payments are due whether or not a lease for the Meadowlands can be done.
Lastly, in Mr. Gural's statement he offers advice to the industry; in particular to those who race at the racinos:
...if we are truly interested in the long-term future of our sport, would be for the horsemen at the tracks that have slots to take five percent of the slot money and use it to market the product with particular emphasis on bringing new and younger people to view the product. I think this is a small sacrifice to make in order to insure that the young people who work in our business have a future and do not find themselves without a career in 10 or 15 years.
Do the horsemen have enough love and faith in their industry to invest in their own business? I hope so, but sadly suspect they are not; still in locked in the belief that promoting the sport is not the horsemen's responsibility. Even if the Meadowlands doesn't survive, these horsemen better realize they need to invest in their own livelihood.