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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Fallout - Time for a New Jersey Bred Program

Some people have speculated that Perretti Farms' closing is a vote of no confidence against Jeff Gural's plan for the Meadowlands.  This can't be further than the truth.  The decision to close Perretti Farms was forthcoming regardless of who took over the Meadowlands; the Pope could take over the Meadowlands and the same decision would have been reached.

The fact is no slots or subsidies puts the Meadowlands at a severe disadvantage to any surrounding state.  Horses are fleeing New Jersey as much as casino gamblers are abandoning Atlantic City for destinations out of the state.  True, Jeff Gural is going to be racing half the dates as before, but that is necessary to race a mid-level racing program; the same way the Meadowlands Thoroughbred meet once used to be grossly inferior to the NYRA racing product.  To race the 180 day meet of the past, the Meadowlands would be luck to attract horses of the level of Running Aces or Kentucky (excluding the grand circuit stand),

In concept, I am against slot revenue as subsidies, but realize if every other state has slots, not to embrace them is trying to compete against other tracks with both arms tied behind your back.

Before thoroughbred horsemen  take glee in the situation, I suggest you look at your own breeding industry.  Mike Farrell reports that a total of 200 thoroughbred yearlings will be registered in New Jersey.  Hardly a statistic to say the thoroughbred industry is doing well.  If Jeff Gural's gamble on the Meadowladns does not payoff, it won't be much longer until Monmouth Park ceases operation.

What is clear, is the NJSS will become a beleaguered program.  It would make sense if the sires stake program was converted to a program for Jersey-sired or bred horses and the purse bonuses for New Jersey owned or sired horses be changed to New Jersey owned, sired or bred, to encourage farms like Perretti to remain open (under new management) as nurseries for horses.  Such a change may allow for New Jersey farmland to remain in operation for horses should slots come to the Meadowlands and sires return to the state and in the meanwhile, help ensure a sufficient horse population for the racetracks.

No doubt it is preferable to have programs to encourage the breeding of New Jersey sired horses.  However, as the Meadowlands changes, so must the programs to encourage New Jersey breeding programs; to reflect the new realities.

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