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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gural Speaks - Feeling Standardbreds are Being Picked On?

As promised, Jeff Gural has provided an update by before the March 15 stakes payment deadline regarding  he reports that he has some partners in the program but still needs $40 million + financing to complete the project to build the new grandstand and OTWs.  Gural mentions he needs some concessions from the state.  My suspicion is the big issue is the length of the lease.  It is generally acknowledged that it will take 30 years to substantiate the building of a new grandstand, but based on reports the NJSEA is only offering a five year lease for Monmouth, the state may be offering only a five year lease for the Meadowlands.  If the state holds to a five year for the Meadowlands, that may present a problem.  Either way, Gural promises to have the issue resolved by the end of the month.

Just in case anyone thinks Governor Christie has it out just for the standardbred industry, they would be wrong.  The Paulick Report indicates Monmouth Park will have a 141 day meet (which means welcome back $4,000 claimers), IF an operator can be found.  If they were running their super meet from last year, I am sure someone would pick up the lease.  However, if they are forced to run an extended meet consisting primarily of mediocre Jersey breds, there will be less interest as it will be a sure money loser at least for this year.


The_Knight_Sky said...

The Paulick Report indicates Monmouth Park will have a 141 day meet (which means welcome back $4,000 claimers)

Monmouth's never carded races for $4,000 claimers in recent years.

Unless of course you include the J-breds running for overpaid N1X allowances ;-)

The 141 racing days cannot possibly transpire. First they'd have to race 5 days a week to November. Where are they going to get the horses to compete for half the purses found at DelPark and PhillyPark for the same tags?

There's not a chance a meet like that will make it to the end.

Expect a revision of the 2011 calendar shortly after a lease deal is signed.

Pacingguy said...

Yes indeed, I am talking about those J-breds you mentioned.

As for the 141 days, I was quoting Paulick Report and that is what the NJ horsemen are talking about unless they get a subsidy to have a meet like last year. Well, the Governor is not about to give them a subsidy so unless the new track operator is willing to make up for the share the t-breds got out of the AC $30 million subsidy shared between both breeds last year as well as the subsidy they got from the Standadrbred horsemen last year to move their meet from the Meadowlands, unless the horsemen blink it will be 141 days as per state law. They need the horsemen to approve anything shorter than 141 days.

The_Knight_Sky said...

PacingGuy well as the subsidy they got from the Standardbred horsemen last year to move their meet from the Meadowlands, unless the horsemen blink it will be 141 days as per state law.

I understand the standardbred horsemen gave a portion toward the Elite Summer Meet. I just didn't know that it involved getting rid of thoroughbred racing at The Meadowlands racetrack.

If true then the thoroughbred horsemen got a sweet deal. They've soured on racing at nights in East Rutherford anyway. And to get paid for packing their bags, well...

Pacingguy said...

It was a win win proposition. Unless the runners vacated the Meadowlands, there would not have been a fall harness meet (as dismal as it was).

The_Knight_Sky said...

In retrospect it looks like a terrible move. The standardbreds could have better used the subsidy to bolster the harness product while they could.

Furthermore, the Fall Harness meet hasn't really lived up to the promise - if it ever will. Now with the thoroughbreds gone for good, entire standardbred industry is being put on Jeff Gural's shoulders. Not a safe bet.

If anything we were deprived of an "official" final thoroughbred meet, or a final last race ceremony at the Meadowlands.

And now I have to question whether turning the Meadowlands into harness racing almost year-around makes it a better wagering product or a destination for a night out for the casual fans. The dilution and monotony of all-Harness-nearly all-the-time defies the concept of successful seasonal meets.

Pacingguy said...

I have been arguing for a long time that harness tracks run too long. Find me a thoroughbred track that runs all year or even six months straight? Not only do you dilute the product, but you wear the gambler down and they get bored; it is no longer special. The best meets are the ones where you race for three months at a time.

Alas, horsemen just rather race for $1,800 purses all year instead of $5,000 by racing three or four months and then ship on to another track. I've been arguing about this since before I started this blog.

The_Knight_Sky said...

I would really LOVE it if The Meadowlands conducted an Elite Harness Meet the way Monmouth Park did last year for the t-breds.

There could also be a secondary meet with lower purses. But the Big M in its heyday has always raced from December to early August. The break in the autumn helps in no small measure.

There simply cannot be an expansion of the racing calendar.

To say nothing of the costs of upkeep of a turf course that is never used. Lots of moves, hastily thought out.

And then there is Freehold which should be racing mainly in the off-season for the Meadowlands. Not going head to head.

Anonymous said...

Friday, April 15, 2011
By Jeffrey Gural, Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment

Obviously, I am very disappointed with the vote yesterday by the tellers not to ratify the proposal we gave them to extend their contract three years at the expiration of the existing contract next February.

This is extremely disappointing, considering I have actually raised the money which I thought was the hard part. I believe we are very close to an agreement with the state with only two or three open points remaining.

At this point, I think we have to assume that the Meadowlands will not reopen for racing on May 7 unless the tellers reconsider.

I am looking into the possibility of relocating the Graduate and the Cutler Memorial stakes races, which were originally scheduled to be raced at the Meadowlands on May 7, with a final on May 14, to the other tracks that I own. I would recommend making the payments for those two races that are due today and the money will be refunded if the race is cancelled.

I am actually on my way to Vernon for opening night. I will discuss this with the horsemen at both Tioga and Vernon to see if we can come up with something as I think it would be unfair at this late date to cancel those two races.

Hopefully, the tellers will have a change of heart, but in the meantime I think it would be prudent to assume that the facility will not reopen for racing on May 7.

I would like to thank the many horsemen who contributed to this effort financially as we raised close to $1 million to cover the costs associated with trying to keep the Meadowlands open. I am very sorry that this effort did not end the way we had all hoped but it is not for lack of effort.