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Thursday, February 2, 2017

The New Jersey Classic Condundrum

Since I began following the standardbreds, racetracks have always had the ability to cancel stakes due to financial concerns; sometimes the lack of entries would result in cancellations.  Horse owners never liked it, but it was part of racing.  This is nothing new, one could argue it is an understood risk of the horse business.  The industry has a standard in place to refund all nominations and fees to those who had horses still eligible.

The Meadowlands, which has financial issues threatened to cancel a good part of the stakes program this year but thanks to industry 'sponsorship', the majority of the program remains intact.  The NJ Classic and Miss New Jersey being two races which remain on the cutting board.  Yet lawyer Howard Taylor, has gone to the courts seeking an injunction to resurrect these stakes as if this is a new phenomenon; a revelation begging to ask "How could this happen"?  

Taylor claims his partners and him bought a horse specifically because it was eligible to the NJ Classic.  That may be the case.  However, if he has been following the horses since he has been twelve, he has seen stakes cancelled before and considering what has happened at the Meadowlands since the Atlantic City subsidies disappeared, this cancellation should not have shocked him.

Yes, to cancel the races, the conditions should indicate it may be cancelled (the conditions are not available for review) due to unforeseen circumstances.  I imagine if there was an oversight,  there may be a case for action but being races have been cancelled in the past and will in the future, understanding the situation, why would someone bother, especially since there is plenty of time to rearrange a horse's schedule.

All I can say is if I was Jeff Gural and I lost this suit, I would be surrendering the license at the end of the year and let New Meadowlands Racetrack, LLC file for bankruptcy; it would be the final stab in the back.  And no one could blame him.


Anonymous said...

To have any credibility, Gural needs to remove not only the impropriety, but any appearance of it. The conflict of interest that hangs over moves like this is undeniable. I am sure there will be plenty of 7 horse field high class trotter races that are raced. No coincidence at least 1 of those horses will be owned by Little E Racing.

Pacingguy said...

Overnight races with seven horses get raced all the time at the Meadowlands with or without Gural owned horses. There is a difference between overnights and stakes races.

Count said...

Am I to understand that there were 7 horses eligible when the stake races were cancelled? That is WAY more than enough to run the race. Can you cite a stakes race that was cancelled in the past due to lack of interest when SEVEN horses were eligible? I've seen a multitude of stakes run with even 3 horses. There have been walkovers for Goodness sake.

Pacingguy said...

MY understanding is there is about 10 horses eligible but based on how it has gone, they expect less than 7 horses to race.

I don't recall any walkovers in harness racing (though I am sure there have been) where only one horse enters. Typically, they occur when there are late scratches.

Anonymous said...

Anyone taking sides in this dispute should know New Jersey and the horsemen's group pulled their money from the stake. I will be shocked if a judge orders a track to put up money previously supplied by two other parties. If this move in court by Howard Taylor isn't just part of a Gural-Taylor feud, Mr. Taylor should also have named New Jersey and the SBOANJ in his complaint. Not just Jeff Gural and the track.

There's a cancellation policy for stakes at every track where I've seen the conditions. Here's the typical Meadowlands statement:
"Cancellation: The Sponsors reserve the right to cancel any or all of the races if it becomes impractical or undesirable in the opinion of The Sponsors to conduct said races. If an event is not raced, The Sponsors responsibility and liability shall be limited to refunding, without interest, all payments collected toward these events. These monies will be pro-rated among those owners of horses eligible at the time of cancellation."

Pacingguy said...

The SBOANJ was listed in the complaint.

Also, the race, being controlled by the SBOANJ, omitted the cancellation notice.

Anonymous said...

Also, I guess it is a coincidence that the races Gural will himself choose to cancel if NJ Classic goes are races that Taylor has the favorites in.

Greed, arrogance, and a lack of ethics that knows no bounds.

Pacingguy said...

Not at all. If he has to cut other stakes to race an event which may have to go 'non-wagering', why not cut races Taylor would benefit in?

This would be the art of making a deal.

Anonymous said...

This is disgusting. I cannot believe that Abe Bassan would let Howie bring down his reputation. How much lower can this game get?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Taylor's home state of Pennsylvania eliminated two high priced stakes for 3YO pacers this year after staging the races for the first time in 2016. If this man is truly out to protect himself and partners who staked horses to big money races, why isn't he contesting the loss of the PA Classic and the associated filly race? Pretty sure he has horses that could have entered those. My conclusion; he wants to challenge Jeff Gural's authority and force Gural to take cash out of his deep pockets so money might end up in Taylor's deep pockets.

Anonymous said...

As far as I am concerned both Gural and Taylor are bad for racing. The difference to me is one is a horse owner. The other runs a racetrack. Doesn't the authority of running a racetrack demand a higher standard of ethics than having "an art of making a deal" like this. Harness racing will be a footnote in a decade.