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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Other Views

I think it is important to see the views of another blogger, this one from the thoroughbred racing side regarding the current situation in New Jersey, so I give you the NJ Horseplayer.  I don't want to criticize another blogger as after all, we are dealing with opinions, but once again it shows the great distrust between harness and thoroughbred interests.

Now, not being privy to what the thoroughbred leadership have been telling their people, it seems the prevalent theme is slot money and worrying about their share.  This I don't understand as when Baily was still in the game, he and Jeff Gural had worked out a split of the slot revenue to make sure both breeds got a cut of the money regardless of where slots were installed (Meadowlands or Monmouth Park).  Perhaps by having the Meadowlands thoroughbred license, the NJTHA thought they could extract an additional share of the slot revenue since they are a different licensee.  The problem is a license can only be given to a person or organization that has a physical racetrack either through ownership or lease; you can't have a license and maybe race or not.

Yes, perhaps the state Attorney General should have issued his opinion on the license issue much earlier, but to tell the state you want $5 million in lieu of the license is a suicidal move.   That is like putting the red sheet in front of the bull (Christie). 

Only time will tell what will happen.  I will be the first person to say I am speculating without inside knowledge,  but to sign a lease for harness racing without Monmouth Park's fate resolved, either a lease or plans to close the track is full of peril.  Rest assured if negotiating resumes, the thoroughbred horsemen will be looking for a lot more money than they had agreed to earlier.

So where did we get here?  The standardbred industry's inferiority complex worked to its benefit.  They read the Governor correctly, and took whatever racing days they could get and will figure where to go from there.   Does anyone think the harness horsemen were thrilled with going from 180+ days to 81 days at the Meadowlands? Of course not. Yes there is Freehold Raceway, but for all practical purposes if the Meadowlands was the major leagues in baseball, Freehold Raceway is AA. They are two different leagues and even Freehold cut dates severely without any demands being made of them. They realized there was no subsidy and had to figure out how to maximize purses without subsidies; that meant cutting racing days..

The thoroughbred horsemen took the 'sports of kings' label to heart.  However, a king does not trump a governor.  Instead of taking the number of days they could get, they wanted more race dates now and they wanted to race for $400,000 a day.  It doesn't work that way.  You race as many days as you can with the money you have available.  But they were not happy with that,  the sport of kings was going to extract funds from someone.  Gural agreed to the amount he would give Monmouth of simulcasting revenue and offered some additional money to get the deal done , so all that was needed was a few signatures and it would have been done.  But NJTHA overplayed their hand and here we are now.

The question is where we are now?  I would love to say, but right now, it is all speculation.  Unless the thoroughbred horsemen adopt the standardbred strategy, I fear Monmouth Park is history; at least not racing in 2012.

On a separate note, I would like to thank Harnesslink for publishing a profile about me, I'm honored they thought I important enough to cover..

1 comment:

Scott Jeffreys said...

Dear Allan,

Keep voicing your view - whether folks agree or not, the debate helps keep focus on the game.

Sincerely, Scott