On Standardbred Canada's website, Mike Gulotta, a prominent horse owner and breeder in New Jersey who happens to have been a member of Governor Christie's transition team, is reported as saying New Jersey racing is in its best position in years. He claims Governor Christie's goal is to have both a vibrant casino and racing industry in the New Jersey.
If I can only be so optimistic.
As a result of a state budget impasse in 2006, the state government in New Jersey was shut down. Since the state government was shut down, the employees who regulate the Atlantic City casinos and racetracks could not be paid. Hence, the casinos, the Meadowlands, and Monmouth Park were forced to shut down, despite the fact the casino and horse racing industries paid the state for the regulators who monitored them.
On the first full day Governor Christie was in office, he issued eight executive orders. In Executive Order #6, Governor Christie declared state employees who monitor the casinos as essential employees which means in the event there is another budget impasse which results in a government shutdown, the regulators who monitor the casinos will be able to remain on the job keeping the casinos open. No mention, no separate executive order regarding employees who monitor horse racing. Despite the fact the racetracks pay for their own regulators, should there be another government shutdown (quite possible being the legislature is controlled by Democrats and the governor is Republican) the casinos will remain open and the racetracks will be shuttered.
Does this sound like an honest broker, someone interested in a strong casino and racing industry? If day one of the Christie Administration is any indication, there are more dark days ahead for the horse racing industry. Racing interests should be contacting the Governor's office asking where racing’s executive order is. If one is not forthcoming, it may be a case of "new governor, same old story".
Another thoroughbred track has made a move to save unwanted horses. River Downs has designated a "Rescue Stall" where an owner may surrender a horse they have given up on or are unable to support. All the owner needs to do is fill out a form listing the problems the horse has and River Downs will keep the horse until they can arrange for its tranfer to a horse rescue group. Seems like a sensible response. When will any harness tracks step up?