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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Is The Meadowlands in Jeopardy Again?

Thought the future of the Meadowlands was all settled?  Like the Perils of Pauline, another chapter in the "Will the Meadowlands survive?" saga begins; perhaps it is fitting that the Perils of Pauline was filmed in New Jersey.  Maybe the series was an allegory for New Jersey politics.

Image used under the fair use provision of copyright law.
Actually, the problem the Meadowlands has is more connected to problems at Monmouth Park where Morris Bailey has declared the Memorandum of Understanding under which he has been operating Monmouth Park in conjunction with the NJSEA 'null and void'. 

It seems the expression 'speed kills' is not completely accurate.  Apparently sluggishness can kill as well.  The lease agreements with Bailey at Monmouth Park and Gural at the Meadowlands were finalized on June 24.  Well up to now, no formal lease has been received by Bailey or Gural; remember Jeff Gural was to formally take over the Meadowlands by September 1?  Well September 1 has come and gone and no formal lease has been signed.  With no lease signed,  neither Bailey or Gural can start the licensing process with the NJRC.

At the Meadowlands, the problem is not as critical as the race meet is over.  According to the The Star Ledger, The problem is at Monmouth, racing is continuing into November and since the leases have not been finalized and Baily is not licensed, Bailey has not been able to start making significant changes to cut losses so the losses continue to mount.  Now Bailey is reported not be satisfied with the lease agreement he agreed to.  For example, all the money in a $4 million loan the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (NJTHA) made to the track to keep purses at $400,000 a day has been spent and now Bailey doesn't want to accept the loan due to the delay.  The question is if Bailey's letter to the NJSEA declaring the memorandum of understanding null and void is a negotiating ploy or is really him saying "I'm out of here"?

Image used under the Fair Use provision of Copyright Law.
 No truth the man in the picture is Governor Christie.

So how does this impact the Meadowlands?  If Bailey truly walks, then the State will have to start all over with the bidding process for Monmouth Park or the State can finish the year out and there will be no racing at Monmouth next year (an unlikely scenario).  We also know the Governor wants both leases resolved at the same time which actually protects the lessors at both tracks.  With no lease in place at Monmouth, the operating parameters for the Meadowlands can change with respect to what percentage of the thoroughbred simulcasts will need to be paid to the thoroughbred horsemen as thoroughbred interest's needs may need to change depending on negotiations between the horsemen and a new Monmouth Park leaseholder.

Right now Jeff Gural's group is paying the bills for the Meadowlands operation.  If Monmouth Park's situation is not settled, how can Gural start with construction of the new grandstand not knowing how much expense the Meadowlands will inccur once an eventual Monmouth lease is finalized?  In fact, it may be an error to finalize a lease if Monmouth Park's situation is not resolved.

If the Meadowlands lease does not get finalized and the new group is licensed, the 20% pay cuts won't take effect meaning Gural will be paying more to operate the Meadowlands during this interim period.  There must be a point where Gural, as with Bailey, will say enough is enough.  The question is when is that point met.

Why the delay is unknown.  The State of New Jersey must get these leases done and finalized without delay.  Otherwise, there may be no racing at the Meadowlands or Monmouth Park in 2012.


Bob English said...

With the closing of Perretti Farms, hopefully legislatures in Trenton wake up and realize that all that New Jersey horsemen and the horsetracks want, is to be able to compete with tracks in surrounding states on an equal basis. All of those have added slots/vlt’s or full blown casinos to their horssetracks. A small portion of that revenue than can be used to subsidize purses at their tracks. This in turn leads to higher purses, better horses, the top trainers and of course more bettors which of course= more $$$$.

Sounds pretty simple right??? Well apparently not so for some NJ pols even though there is reason to believe that if a vote was allowed on a bill to permit slots/vlt’s at The Meadowlands, it would pass with a overwhelming majority.

A study done for the State of NJ noted that slots/vlt’s at The Meadowlands would bring $1 billion+ per year in new revenue to NJ without harming Atlantic City. for more info and links to some great articles, please check out our Facebook page and remember to press “Like”:!/pages/Save-New-Jersey-Horse-Racing-Allow-VLTs-at-the-Meadowlands/129193943805073

Pacingguy said...


I bave argued this so many times, I have taken a brake from it. Of course, logic says the Meadowlands should have slots. It is the Boss Tweads in the state which have kept it from happening.

I still say, slots are merely a crutch for racing and racing ultimately needs to fix its own problem to survive, but in the meanwhile, an level playing field should apply to all; right now NJ racing is like throwing a boxer with both hands tied behind their back into the ring with a championship fighter.