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Friday, December 31, 2010

Let's Race Like it's 1969

We can't end the year without some controversy can we?

Apparently, there is some dissension out there regarding a Jeff Gural-led rescue of the Meadowlands.  There are some people who want the SBOANJ to go it alone in rescuing the Meadowlands.  How big a group this is I don't know but some of the problems the dissent has with a Gural plan is the feeling it is unattainable.  For one thing, who would build a $40 million facility for a five year lease?  Jeff Gural is not some college graduate just out of school.  While he may get a $1 lease for five years on the Meadowlands, rest assured before he commits $40 million to build a new grandstand, he would negotiate a longer lease for the property, no doubt years six and on for more than $1.  I am not saying it is a certainty that Gural will be successful, but he is smart enough to feel there is a reasonable chance of success to enter the sweepstakes for the Meadowlands.  May I remind you if the Gural did not enter the competition, the Meadowlands would already have been closed, save for six days in August.

The opposition feels horsemen can run the Meadowlands and the $1 a year lease; obviously disregarding the additional fees that it will cost to keep the old outdated grandstand open; one that reminds me of the grandstand at Atlantic City Race Course; that's enough to get people to want to come out to the races.    This person fails to realize that no horsemen group in recent years has successfully run a racetrack; as smart as we like to think the SBOANJ leadership may be, what is to make anyone think they would be successful?  My guess is if the SBOANJ attempted to run the Meadowlands alone, they may be bankrupt before the year is over.  According to some, part of the solution, is to defer payments to pension plans, one of the leading things which has brought NJ to the brink of financial disaster.

Another suggestion is to ask breeders to make sacrifices to help save money to run the Meadowlands.  Are these the same breeders that just took a drubbing this year at Harrisburg and are bordering on insolvency?  They have already shipped most commercially viable stallions out of state.  No doubt dropping breeders awards is the way to go; then we can cancel the NJSS as there will no longer be any Jersey-sired horses.

To me, the real crux appears to be the reduction of racing days.  The claim being made is a Gural-led Meadowlands would probably race 80 days a year while some would prefer to maintain a 141 day racing calendar.  This sounds like something that would come from East of the Hudson but in New York, they have racinos.  Sure, a racetrack with slots can race 141 days; who cares about handle (for now)?  But for a non-racino track racing 141 days a year, even like the Meadowlands; that's fine if you want to become Balmoral East. 

To paraphrase the old Prince song.  Let's race like it's 1969.    

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