For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gural Makes Appeal to the Horsemen

The following is an Open Letter from Jeff Gural to the area Horsemen:

As we move forward with the next phase of the Meadowlands project which consists of building a new grandstand at a cost of around $90,000,000, I am becoming increasingly concerned over the fact that it is becoming harder and harder to get horses to race at the Meadowlands.  It seems everybody likes to qualify their good horses but when it comes to racing they would rather go someplace else.  One wonders does it really make sense to build a new grandstand and try to fill it with customers young and old if there are not enough horses to race?  Our income is derived solely from wagering and only half as much as is bet on a seven horse race as is bet on a ten horse race.  The other option is to do what our competitors do and only allocate 10% of our available purse money to stakes races and 90% to overnights.  Personally, I think that would be a disaster for the industry especially in light of the problems we may face next year in Canada if WEG has to cut back on their stakes programs. 

In any case, if any one has any suggestions as to the type of races they would like to see us card at the Meadowlands that would help alleviate this problem please email me at and I will discuss it with the racing department. 

I appreciate that everyone is thrilled the Meadowlands is not going to close but the industry has to support the racing program and not just pick and choose the stakes races if we are going to survive.  The next few weeks will be especially difficult now that the sire stakes are ending and before the two year olds start up again so any input would be greatly appreciated.

What does Jeff Gural need to do to get horsemen to drop into the box?  This situation is typical of the dysfunctional racing industry.  Almost everyone was saying the demise of the Meadowlands would have basically killed of harness racing in the United States so people were fighting tooth and nail to save it.  Then, the second the Eastern Pennsylvania tracks open, a lot of horsemen find themselves 'getting out of Dodge' for greener pastures.  Rest assured, if and when the Meadowlands gets alternative gaming, you won't be able to drop in the entry box because it will be overflowing.

I know some will argue the Meadowlands doesn't write races for them.  Odds are it is because Peter Koch doesn't get enough interest for them.  That being said, call up the race office and tell them you want to drop horses in  but there is no class for them.    If the problem is the race doesn't fill, you need to talk to your fellow horsemen.  Horsemen need to support the Meadowlands racing program or you will see the third day of racing due to resume late June get dropped.  After all, if you can't fill two days of racing, what is the sense of offering the third day.

If I was the racing secretary, I will be telling horsemen  that next winter, when the Eastern Pennsylvania tracks are closed, some of the races will be limited to horses that made a certain number of starts at the Meadowlands after March 1 of this year.  Then watch the horsemen scream bloody murder about not being able to get their horses raced.  Remember, racing is a two way street.


Anonymous said...

Pacing Guy this is not an issue where "horsemen" should take the blame. This is clearly based on the Meadowlands attempt to stretch their racing season and compete directly with other tracks for similar horses. Had they concentrated an effort on programming more racing this winter and returned in late June for a "championship" meet they would have garnered more support.

You should also remember that horsemen entering at the Meadowlands aren't just sacrificing purses. They are commonly being forced to compete in races that have two or three classes combined to fill fields. This has no benefit to the average horseman.

Mr. Gural invested his money we think with the idea that "he and his investors" would get their pot of gold in the future with alternative gaming. His "appeal" to horsemen to fix a problem he in fact created makes little sense. You suggesting that anyone owes Mr. Gural anything under the guise that he is a "savior" is also disingenuous. He's an investor who is looking to make money plain and simple. With all of his great ideas and new ways to improve upon the Big M his planning has clearly failed in one regard. He didn't plan for being short of horses and not being able to put on a competitive product. That's HIS fault

Pacingguy said...

Anon, you raise some interesting points. With regards to the Meadowlands combining three classes to fill a race, if enough horses entered, there would be no need to combine the classes.

Is there some blame for Jeff Gural racing so much in the spring instead of more in the winter and a break for a true championship meet? Perhaps there is some, but remember last year when the Meadowlands stopped racing for a month, it just killed everything, losing the continuity gamblers want.

Regarding scheduling, remember the Meadowlands is looking to build rack attendance. Traditionally, winter is not conducive for people to come out to the track. When racing dates were proposed, no one knew winter would skip the NYC metropolitan area this year.

You also forget purse levels. If the Meadowlands raced more dates in the winter, the purse account would not have been as strong as it was then. By racing less dates, it allowed the purse account to grow in order to pay the purses offered during the winter and now; purses would have been lower if more race dates were added to the earlier part of the meet.

Perhaps it is a problem of having more stakes or upper conditioned trainers at the Meadowlands, but when Yonkers was in the pre-racino business, horsemen still supported the meet when they could have raced elsewhere (granted they raced $4,000 claimers during the bleak days), so they got racing cards scheduled.

Here in NJ, a lot of people are heading for the hills. I see nothing wrong if the Meadowlands rewards those who race there as was done by YR for their loyal trainers who toughed it out.

I suspect if your schedule was raced in a normal year, things would have been worse. Yes, Gural is a businessperson. However, everyone was screaming 'Save us from ourselves' and he did when no one else was willing. Where are those trainers now? A lot of them are in Pennsylvania.