As you may have heard, Vernon Downs has been licensed and permitted to race the month of April instead of their whole meet due to the lack of a contract between Vernon and the horsemen's group, the HHA of CNY. One would think with the negotiations on continuing so close to opening day, there must be some big issues remaining; after all no one wins if the racing season is severely curtailed due to a lack of a contract.
Well, we would be wrong if we thought this way. My sources tell me all the issues regarding a new two year contract have been agreed to with the exception of one. The election of officers to the HHA of CNY. Currently, the annual election of horsemen representatives occurs around Thanksgiving, when the majority of horsemen who race at Vernon Downs are long gone from the area. As a result, the election process has the potential of not being conducted fairly. Vernon Downs wants the election for officers to be conducted around September 15th when the majority of horsemen racing at Vernon Downs are still around with a mutually agreeable CPA unsealing and tabulating the ballots in front of the candidates running for office tto ensure the election of officers is fair and representing the will of those who race at Vernon Downs.
What a radical proposal! Track management is asking for the same election process used by the SOA of NY at Yonkers Raceway; a free, open, and democratic election to ensure the will of the horsemen of Vernon Downs is being followed.
The horsemen who race at Vernon Downs should realize what is jeopardizing their racing season; the ability to make sure their wishes for elected representatives is conducted fairly. If the same officers which currently run the HHA of CNY win the election, so be it. At least there will be no question as to their legitimacy. If this is the issue holding up a contract, they need to let their leadership to relent on this issue.
There has been a history of bad blood between Vernon Downs and the HHA of CNY in the past and Vernon Downs wants an open and free election in the hopes of new officials being elected; officials who may be more willing to work with track management to ensure the success of Vernon Downs (maybe allow a takeout reduction as was done at Tioga). Why the horsemen's negotiators are resisting this, I don't know. If the horsemen representatives are representing the best interests of their members, they have nothing to fear with moving the election up from Thanksgiving weekend as they would still be reelected. Of course, if they are not representing the will of those racing at Vernon, then they have reason to fear an open election.
Vernon Downs has a legitimate interest in dealing with officials which represent the will of all the horsemen. The horsemen have a legitimate interest in knowing those who represent them have been fairly elected. Hopefully, this contract dispute will be resolved quickly.