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Sunday, March 21, 2010

So Who's Footing the Bill?

In New Jersey, State Assemblyman Fred Scalera is sponsoring a resolution calling for New Jersey to continue to hold the Hambletonian at the Meadowlands. The Hambletonian has been held at the Meadowlands since 1981 and after May 17, the NJSEA has the ability to automatically renew the contract to hold the event for another five years starting in 2013. If the NJSEA does not renew the contract, the race goes out to bid.

This is all and good, but who is going to foot the bill? In 2011, the NJSEA is guaranteeing a $1,700,000 purse for the Hambletonian and $850,000 for the Oaks. If less than $825,000 ($425,000 for the Oaks) of payments from the horsemen is received, then the NJSEA must match the horsemen's contributions. No matter how much the horsemen pay into the races, at least 40% of the purse must come from the NJSEA. The Meadowlands' contribution to the purses for these races comes from the horsemen's purse account.

The question to be asked is who's going to foot the bill to pay for the Hambletonian to remain at the Meadowlands under the current terms? It is easy for the Assembly to pass a resolution saying the Hambletonian and the Oaks should remain at the Meadowlands, but unless the state is willing to authorize VLTs or provide a subsidy, it is not realistic to expect the horsemen’s purse account to pay for these races; doing so will deplete a greatly reduced purse account at the expense of the horsemen who race in overnights. So assuming the state does not provide VLTs or subsidies, unless the legislature is willing to provide seed money to sponsor these great races, passing such a resolution is hypocritical.

Without VLTs or subsidies, the Meadowlands cannot afford the luxury of hosting the Hambletonian and Oaks under the current terms. The contract for the Hambletonian and Oaks needs to be renegotiated to reduce the guaranteed purses. A $1.7 million purse for the Hambletonian suggests a standardbred industry that is experiencing a boom; something which is clearly not the case. This is not to say I don't want to see the Hambletonian at the Meadowlands; I do. But not under terms that are onerous to the horsemen that support the overnight program. The contract for the Hambletonian and Oaks for the years 2013 and beyond needs to reflect the current economic realities of racing.

For those of you in the metropolitan NYC area, Meadowlands drivers and trainers will be tending bar this evening for the benefit of the Standardbred Retirement Foundation.  Click on the following commercial for additional information.


JLB said...

Attended the SRF event last night, well over 100 people there. Tending bar were Tyler Buter, Brian Sears, John and Jim Campbell, Ray Remmen, Tim Tetrick, and Yannick Gingras., As someone who races one horse at the Meadowlands, I was a complete unknown to all of them. Introduced myself to Yannick, who has driven my horse for the last month. He and the others I met-Sears, Tetrick, and John Campbell-could not have been more gracious, and I had a lengthy conversation with John about the state of the industry. Various items were auctioned (Tetrick bought Sears' driving colors for $ 350) and everyone seemed to have a good time for a very good cause.

Pacingguy said...

JLB, glad to hear you went last night. SRF is one of my pet charities. Did Tim burn Brian's colors after he won them? (Only kidding)

JLB said...

No problem if he did, Brian could always order from the Sears catalog!

Also had an interesting discussion with Dave Brower as to the purpose of the morning line. He sets it to assess what he feels the public will bet, rather than his view of who are the most likely horses to do well. I brought up the example of a fan favorite like Nickawampus Leroy, from Roosevelt days, a horse that would be overbet no matter what his chance. To peg his odds at, say, 5-2, because that is how the fans would bet, is of no help to either the casual or more sophisticated bettor looking for guidance from a professional handicapper.

To use a more current example, the horse I race at the Meadowlands is the only one my trainer currently campaigns there. I am sure that this horse is underbet compared to what would happen if he was trained by a Casie Coleman or Ervin Miller, simply for the trainer recognition. To me,the odds placed on this horse should reflect his current competitiveness vs. his rivals. Dave countered that his handicapping choices are spelled out in his detailed analyses which accompany each race. But, most tracks simply do not furnish them.

Pacingguy said...

Dave is right. The ML reflects what he feels the public is going to do. In the programs they used to indicate what the morning line was meant to reflect in the small print. Perhaps each track should print it on the bottom of the first race in the program.