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Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Season of Uncertainty

The next session of the New Jersey Gaming Summit will not be occurring until mid-September due to scheduling conflicts caused by summer vacations.  This in itself is bad enough because if the second session will not be occurring until mid-Septembe, the final session likely will not occur until October.  This does not bode well for the yearling sales.  Nothing is more unsettling to potential yearling buyers as uncertainty.  Will there be a Meadowlands meet next year; how long a meet; what kind of stakes program will there be?  All questions which remain outstanding look to be unresolved until late October or early November at the earliest.

Owners of existing racehorses fare no better.  What early closing or late closing events will they nominate to?  Do trainers attempt to get stall space at another track; assuming another track will be willing to give them stall space?  This does not impact only the Meadowlands trainers.  Do trainers who have filled the winter race programs at the Meadows, Monticello, Pompano Park and Yonkers suddenly find themselves lucky to get their horses raced twice a month, if at all? 

As good or as bad the news may turn out to be, the best thing which can happen is to get the New Jersey situation resolved as quickly as possible.  This means it is time to stop with the talking points and hyperbole and get down to serious negotiations with the goal being to preserve racing in New Jersey.

Let's face facts:

  • The moment Christie won the governorship, VLTs were dead.  The defeat of Corzine allowed the South Jersey political machine to stage a coup against the legislative leadership.  Senator President Sweeney has made it clear that slots in the Meadowlands is a dead issue which will never see the light of day in the Senate.  Governor Christie is against slots so there is no one able to take on Sweeney.  Slots are not happening so stop talking about it. 

  • The politicians in New Jersey don't care about racing outside of New Jersey, be it thoroughbred or standardbred.  As far as the politicians are concerned, this is a state issue.  A phone call, speech, or letter from someone who does not do business in New Jersey to the governor or a legislator is meaningless.  That being said, donations by out-of-staters to TrotPac is essential to lobby the politicians.  

  • No one cares that the state "subsidizes" the casino industry in respect to paying less to the state when compared to other states.  That is an issue for the casino industry and the government; not racing's issue.  This so called subsidy is the premium the state gave the casino industry to get them to invest in Atlantic City; the same way the state gives other industries money to relocate to New Jersey.  Besides, can't it be argued that the racing industry receives a subsidy as it is one of the few states that don't take a cut out of the takeout? 

  • Defeating Christie's proposal to permit off-track and account wagering to occur in the state without allowing live racing is paramount.  If possible, see if legislation can pass which will require the operator to conduct a standardbred and thoroughbred race meet of a certain number of days; this could be the best way to ensure racing continues in the state.  Otherwise, if Christie's proposal regarding off-track and account wagering becomes law, it is almost inevitable that New Jersey will cut racing loose sooner or later.
The sooner the industry understands reality, meaningful discussions working towards a  resolution can take place.  Otherwise, the speeches and the grandstanding will continue with no resolution forthcoming.  The summer of uncertainty is about to become a fall of uncertainty.  We don't need it to extend into the winter.  This is something no one needs.

Last night was probably the worst Saturday night of racing ever at the Meadowlands to which one horseman responded: Personally, I think it's a tad hypocritical to wear those "Save The Meadowlands" T-shirts while racing elsewhere.....  Of course, he's right.  If horsemen stabled at New Jersey training tracks are abandoning the Meadowlands to race at neighboring states' tracks, why should the state care?

1 comment:

Pacingguy said...

Lest anyone think all is lost in New Jersey, I suspect there will be a good chance there will be racing at the Meadowlands next year, run by the NJSEA.

My guess is there will be a seventy day harness meet at the Meadowlands, similar to the elite meet being held this year at Monmouth Park; similar to the two weeks at The Rde Mile. A cutback in dates at Freehold will also likely occur.