On the Racingbeard site, the initial pleadings of Lou Pena and Jeff Gural are posted. Once again, I mention that I have no legal experience but I find the response by Jeff Gural to be the stronger of the two pleadings. I find many of the arguments of the Pena pleading to be lacking and many of the arguments off base or stretching the truth to the breaking point. First of all, claiming the racing secretary Peter Koch is an employee of the NJSEA and naming Dennis Robinson and NJSEA as plaintiffs is off base (though it must be said you can always drop someone from a suit, but you can't add someone to it once filed). Of course, as to be expected, Pena's pleading paints him as a candidate for sainthood and the response paints him in a less than flattering light.
Pena is claiming that the NJSEA in effect operates the Meadowlands because it owns the land that is being leased and at the end of 30 years (actually 31 years, and Gural has the option to extend the lease) the track reverts back to the NJSEA. Personally, I feel this is way off base. The NJSEA has basically washed their hands of the racetrack with the signing of the lease. Koch is not an employee of the NJSEA and more than Gural is as the track was turned over to NMR and had been licensed to conduct the meet. The NJSEA is not licensed to operate a harness meet at the Meadowlands, so how can Mr Koch be argued an employee of the NJSEA?. All decisions were made based on the judgement of Jeff Gural and as an employee of NMR, Koch informed Pena of the exclusion..
The case as I suspected, likely boils down to this. Can a private organization which leases state property claim private property rights? Pena argues since the Meadowlands leases the property, it is in fact a state agency. On page 28 of the response, Gural cites cases which shows the state's leasing of property does not keep a private organization from exercising their rights as the owner/operator of private property.
What will happen on Monday? If I was the judge, I would reject the request for a temporary injunction and schedule the case for trial as Gural has not requested a summary judgement to dismiss the suit. But of course, I am not the judge; he will make the decision. Don't be surprised if nothing is heard from the judge on Monday, there are times the judges will take the arguments under advisement and issue their ruling a few days later.
Another trainer banned is named: Richard Banca has also been excluded from the Meadowlands.
Something You Should Know: If you are looking to know who else has been excluded from the Meadowlands, this is not the site to go for first to know information.. In fairness to those who may be named and may or may not in fact be excluded, I will not name them until they are first published in a reputable media or harness racing source. This blog is not the place for rumors that may turn into character assasination of people not involved.
While I have my opinions regarding Mr. Pena, my discussion will be limited to the case at hand; whether or not New Meadowlands Racetrack (NMR) has the right of exclusion as a private operator or not. Personally, I think they have the right. The point is, my discussion should not be constituted as thinking Mr Pena is or is not worthy of participating of racing just whether or not NMR has the right of exclusion.
PTP reports last night that Jeff Gural has for all practical purposes indicated he is willing to prosecute those cheating with illegal drugs. A worthy goal and a good deterent. Unfortunately, it is the District Attorney or the Attorney General who decides whether or not to prosecute a case. So there may be a desire, but not a means; something not unusual in racing. Also, PTP talks about the $1 Superfectas bombing out last night and the increase of the takeout on the Superfectas; something very un-Gural like.