The NJSEA has announced that within thirty days, horsemen will know what kind of races and purse account will be in place for the 2011 Meadowlands meet. As fast as the Democratic controlled legislature is trying to work, hope that the calvary will arrive in time to save the day is diminishing.
By now, everyone has head about the Hanson commission issuing a supplemental report calling for the end of racing at the Meadowlands and putting both the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park up for sale. As for racing in New Jersey, the supplemental report calls for a six day meet at the Meadowlands to accomodate contractual obligations to host the Hambletonian and a thirty day standardbred meet at the Monmouth Park in the fall for 2011 and in future years, having the a seventy day meet at Monmouth. The thoroughbreds would be given a fifty-nine day meet at Monmouth as well. The report does call for spending $4.6 million dollars at Monmouth for the installation of lights, construction of a receiving barn, and winterizing part of the grandstand to support a harness meet in addition to transitional subsidies to allow other funding sources to come on line.
One thing is for sure, the timing of this 'update' is more than coincidental; perhaps released to ensure the failure of the upcoming meet? Horsemen like certainty and while the situation in New Jersey has been unsettling, the consensus has been there would be some type of race meet so many horsemen have been planning to come to New Jersey to race anyway; at least for the winter. How many horsemen planning to race at the Meadowlands are now scrambling to get into New York before they write conditions favoring horses that have been racing in state? How many horsemen planning to enter the Meadowlands winter late closing events which have a December 1 closing date are going to skip entering these races? After all, why enter if they may get cancelled?
Inquiring minds would like to know who besides Hanson was involved in the issuance of this supplemental report; when did they meet; who were the experts they consulted?. What happened to all the alternatives they suggested in the initial report such as leasing the Meadowlands to the horsemen and why were they jettisoned? How free was this commission to consider other alternatives or were the opinion of both reeports predetermined? Would the report have been so anti-racing if Hanson and his company were told they were told they would not be able to bid on a redevelopment project which may take place as a result of this report?
Make no mistake, racing through neglect has put itself in this situation. However, it is inexcusable that an industry which has done so much for a state is not being given one last fair chance to fix itself.
Knight Sky Racing has a nice blog entry talking about the efforts of SBOANJ President Tom Luchento's efforts to save racing in New Jersey for both breeds.
For a little nostalgia, let's take a look at the 1972 Provincial Cup at Windsor Raceway. The race is not only notable for the 12,057 fans in attendnace at Windsor, but for the defeat of Albatross, at the hands of Isle of Wight, who during the infancy of the NJSS program, was the 'It' stallion. A day could not go by when you didn't see the offspring of Isle of Wight racing and winning at Freehold Raceway and the Meadowlands.