What a turn around. Just two or three weeks after announcing the Meadowlands stakes program was going to be slashed severely to start recouping the over-payment of the purse account, a new release comes out indicating the stakes program will remain relatively intact. Specifically, the press release says:
Another important decision made in view of the robust market for yearlings at the recently concluded Lexington Selected Yearling Sale is to maintain as many of the Grand Circuit stakes at as close to current purse levels as possible, despite the burden of a purse account that is currently overpaid by $5 million.
What does this mean? After all, only the Federal Reserve Bank can print money so something has to give? There is a big 'IF' here, it is called sponsorship. Specifically:
The reality of sustaining a stakes program anywhere close to what we are accustomed to at the Meadowlands will require industry support via sponsorship of these races. We hope to be able to find sponsors for all of our stakes and Jason Hall will be reaching out to the major owners, breeders, vendors and other participants to hopefully raise enough in sponsorships to keep the majority of stakes programs in place.
Now this is speculation on my part, I may be totally wrong. My suspicion is industry leaders were concerned about the slash and burn of stakes races at the Meadowlands and asked for Jeff Gural to reconsider. If I am wrong, then it is a question of him deciding to ask the industry to sponsor the stakes. Either way, we get this press release which basically says, "Okay, time to put up or shut up. If these stakes races are so important, let's see the industry put up their money and sponsor these races". In effect, putting the fate of these stakes into the hands of industry leaders.
Gural's detractors are no doubt going to be criticizing Gural for passing the hat around, but lest anyone forget, there is precedent for sponsorship. After all, the entire Grand Circuit meet at The Red Mile is sponsored by the very people Gural is asking to pony up now.
The ball is now in the industry's court.