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Monday, December 12, 2011

Irony or Not?

When the Hanson Report first came out, it recommended keeping Monmouth Park open and closing the Meadowlands.  Well, eighteen months later, we are looking at the possibility of Monmouth Park closing and the Meadowlands remaining open.

How's that for irony?

Unfortunately, I can't say it is irony.  For all we know both tracks may be closing.  Some people are reporting the Meadowlands deal will be broken apart from the thoroughbred deal, others are saying Christie still insists they both be done.  Now, I am not privy to which way it is going, but I can't help but think a lot of this is conjecture (another word for wishful thinking).

Morris Bailey is now out of the deal (for now).  This time for real, as he withdrew his letter of credit.  It seems the NJTHA is without a partner and Governor Christie has laced into the thoroughbred horsemen big time telling them they have one week to settle on a deal or that's it for horse racing in New Jersey.  Apparently, the NJTHA wanted $5mil in subsidies in lieu of the racing license the Attorney General  was not comfortable giving to someone who was not a leaseholder.  Well the last thing the Governor wanted to hear was the word subsidy and that caused him to lace into the 'million dollar' horsemen (another example of hyperbole), 

How did we get to this point?  The standardbred horsemen realized the Governor was serious and they had to cut the best deal they could.  It appears the thoroughbred horsemen decided they could push back even after a deal was made and try to get more; more dates or more money.  It is not good to mess with the Governor because of exactly what happened today.

Well if Bailey was the winner in the bidding and he bailed out, who does the NJTHA partner with?  To me, it would seem impossible to have a deal completed by December 20 so it means one of two things.  Monmouth Park is closing as of December 23 for good.  Or will be put in mothballs until re-bidding and a contract is negotiated.  Some people say the NJSEA can run it but I don't believe the Governor will allow that.

The question is what happens to the Meadowlands?  Some say the Meadowlands stays tied to the thoroughbreds coming up with a deal, others say the harness deal goes through on its own.  The Governor has not revealed his hand so at this point, unless you are Jeff Gural, I suspect it is more wishful thinking than anything else.

The big question if the Meadowlands deal goes through is what about simulcasting agreements?  Do thoroughbred tracks elsewhere support New Jersey horsemen (by revoking permission to simulcast to New Jersey) or do they hang the NJTHA out to dry.  If Monmouth Park is closed does the NJTHA have any legal standing under the Interstate Racing Act to block signals to the Meadowlands or does the NJTHA cease to exist for practical purposes accept at ACRC where the distance is too far to restrict the Meadowlands from simulcasting running races.

The bottom line is no one knows, except those with direct communication with the Governor.  Everyone else is speculating.  One thing is for certain.  Come December 20, if there is no thoroughbred meet in 2012 at Monmouth, the lawsuits will be flying.

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