Down but not out was the theme at last night's horsemen's meeting at the Meadowlands as the SBOANJ has called for unity with the thoroughbred industry in an effort to fight the conclusion to the Hanson Report. In the meeting, SBOANJ President Tom Luchento indicated that the "alternatives" offered by the Hanson Report would be the death knell to all horse racing in New Jersey as no one will want to buy a track without the prospects of slots.
Luchento was correct when he said the main reason for removing racing from the Meadowlands was so it could eventually be made into Atlantic City North without having to cut the horsemen in. The position is racing at the Meadowlands and Freehold are the only feasible options with the possibility of an elite meet occurring at the Meadowlands. You may read the complete text of Luchento's remarks here.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Governor Christie, in a meeting with legislators from Monmouth County, challenged the legislators to come up with a plan for the long-term survival of racing without state subsidies. This would suggest the Governor is not as entrenched in his position as he indicated at his press conference announcing the results of the Hanson Commission.
One of the suggestions to make the Meadowlands thrive is the idea of a hundred night 'Elite' meet like Monmouth Park with an average purse distribution of $400,000 on a nightly basis. It is estimated that the handle would support $200,000 a night which means the rest would have to come from a subsidy. Quite honestly, I don't know how an 'Elite' meet could have a hundred nights of racing and where the $20 million in subsidies will be coming from. Perhaps it is a case of asking for a whole loaf and settling for something less.
In Ontario, a petition is being circulated by Standardbred Canada asking that 5% of the slot revenue be diverted to be used for the development of racing and sustaining the sport. Amongst the things these funds would be used for is the Canada One project (creating a satellite signal packaging numerous harness tracks in an all day program including exotic bets), development of a lottery type wager and other initiatives to stimulate interest. While New Jersey doesn't have slots, it would have been interesting if other states with slot revenue (such as New York) had developed a similar program; perhaps the industry would be doing much better and we would not even be having to deal with the crisis in New Jersey.
Do you support racing surviving in New Jersey? If you wish to see horse racing continuing at ACRC, Freehold, Meadowlands and/or Monmouth Park, give Governor Christie's office a call and let him know how important it is to keep horse racing alive in New Jersey. More details, including the phone number can be found here.
Sunday brings us the annual Driving Championship at Tioga Downs. The drivers will be competing in six dashes out of the thirteen race card, including one dash at 1 1/4 miles. Since there are many NYSS races on the card, not only are you seeing these drivers in additional races; other drivers of note will be competing there as well. As always, the Driving Championship promises to be a hard fought contest with a total prize pool of $40,000 with $25,000 to the winning driver.
My selections for the entire Sunday afternoon Tioga card follows. You will note I am only providing horses' names and not wagering numbers for Sunday's card as it was necessary for me to handicap the card prior to scratch time. In some races, there are also eligibles listed. If I like an also eligible, it will be denoted by being in italics; in which case, not only will it be listed, I will select an additional horse in the event the AE does not draw in.
Races in the Driving Championship will be listed in bold and will show the drivers assigned to the top picks.
1st - Rarely Ordinary, Quantum Incredible, Beast Of The East
2nd - Devastating A (Gingras), Here Comes Kris (Pierce), Reasontocelebrate (Bartlett)
3rd - Typical Newyorker, Sing Out, You Go Now
4th - Tarver Hanover (Bartlett), Diamond Stick Pin (Palone), Ironstone Wiz (Sears), Jove's Success (Ranger)
5th - Small Bill, Rhythmic Moves, Petraeus
6th - Saturn Blue Chip, Newsboy Moriarty, Lucid Thoughts
7th - (1 1/4 miles) - Blazing Winner (Pierce), Rally By The River (TBA), He's A Blizzard (Gingras), K M Dreamcatcher (Brennan), Betteka (Tetrick)
8th - All In Tad, Quantum Cashman, Steubenmeanmachine
9th - Jeremy's Successor (Sears), Where's Waldo (Tetrick), Sheer Brilliance (Campbell)
10th - Front Man, Dejarmbro, Daleydaydream
11th - Screenplay (Bartlett), Max Q (Gingras), Prince Juniper (Ranger)
12th - Whiskey Pete (Pierce), Power Park (Ranger), My Last Laugh (Tetrick)
13th - Alaric, Petruchio, Whitewater Rapids, Surface Tension