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Monday, April 25, 2011

Lunacy in Pennsylvania; No RFP Issues

Chester Downs and Pocono Downs realize they are competing against each other for the Open classes.  So what they are going to do is swap Opens so at least each week they will have full fields of Open horses instead of short fields or fields filled with inferior horses.  Smart move.

So what the tracks are going to do is offer $60,000 Opens instead of $30K or $35K purses.  Pure insanity.  What is the logic of doubling the purses of these opens?  Are these horse going to be racing at Vernon Downs for $10,000 instead of race at Freehold where they no longer even card Open classes?  Okay, maybe some horses that have had a short commute to one of these tracks will have every other week a much longer commute.  I can see increasing the purses $5,000 to compensate the horsemen for the extra traveling (gas has gone up), but to double the purses are simply obscene.

Over at PTP, Dean suggests instead of increasing the purses, use some of that excess money to seed some Pick 4s with a lower takeout to increase wagering action.  I have a similar but what I think would be a better idea.  If they have too much money that they don't know what to do with it, why not lower takeout rates on all wagers?  Especially since the amount of money wagered on the races contribute so little to the purse account?  Then maybe we can get a track which can attract the deep pools harness racing needs in the event the Meadowlands doesn't reopen.

Thoroughbred horsemen are wondering why RFPs were asked for with regards to Monmouth Park and no such RFPs were issued for the Meadowlands.  According to the NJTHA, they wanted an option to bid $1 a year to lease the Meadowlands and they claim they sent in their inquiry the day Jeff Gural met with Governor Christie.  Well, now the thoroughbred horsemen have said they would not stand in the way of Gural taking over the Meadowlands, probably because there will be a six day thoroughbred turf meet at the Meadowlands to preserve their share of simulcasting revenue.  However, we should be glad that the Governor went with Gural because rest assured a leased Meadowlands by the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen would have meant the end of harness racing there as they had no interest in running a harness meet.

Still, one wonders what statute gave the state permission to lease the Meadowlands without requesting RFPs?  Was it the fact the meet was about to start?  Or was it felt that Jeff Gural brought a specialized skill which could not be found elsewhere, making bidding unecessary.  Worse yet, is this an achille heel which will bite people in the butt later?  The fact no one else has made noise yet makes it unlikely a challenge will be made.  However, if a racino is forthcoming, it is possible the issue will be raised.

This is another reason why I feel Gural will not walk away from the Meadowlands regardless of what happens with the tellers.  The thoroughbred horsemen are ready once again to step in and bid for the Meadowlands if Jeff Gural walks away.  If Gural does walk away, the Governor may have a hard time not talking to the thoroughbred people which could result in the Meadowlands being lost forever to harness racing.


Jim H. said...

Not a comment but a question.

If you go to the Pennsylvania Control Board website ( and look at the revenues, you'll see a line item called the PRHDF (and you'll see that for FY2011 that the amount is $224M or somewhere thereabouts).

You probably know that PRHDF stands for Pennsylvania Racehorse Development Fund.

My question is, by what criteria is the money distributed? Who qualifies? Does the practical application meet the theoretical? etc. etc.

The numbers that I see are huge but I don't really know much about the fund itself...and this inquiring mind would like to know.


Pacingguy said...

I'll try to find out over the next few days but can't make any promises. Check back on Monday.

Pacingguy said...


Here is your answer as to how the money is distributed:

The funds are used to promote breeding with in the state, contribute to purses and to help fund welfare programs for disabled jockeys and drivers.

You'll have to decide ith the practial meets the theoretical.