Ah, it has been a long time since we had a good horsemen's dispute and it looks like we have one at Freehold Raceway where Pennwood has requested a 90 day meet with no racing in January and February. The SBOANJ has made it clear that they will not accept anything less than 120 days with racing in the two winter months.
Actually, the Freehold request is dead on arrival. According to New Jersey law, Freehold is required to race a minimum of 192 days a year, unless the SBOANJ gives it consent. Thanks to state law, no SBOANJ approval for the number of days Freehold wants to race means no simulcating and no wagering at Freehold's Toms River OTW location.
But doesn't Freehold race have a 90 day schedule in 2012? If so, why opposition for a similar schedule for 2013? Besides the stated reason that some horsemen weren't qualifying for their health coverage and pension benefits, the horsemen are furious at the track for dragging their feet on building out their OTW network. The horsemen were prepared to assume those licenses but Freehold managed to satisfy the NJRC by showing sufficient progress in their efforts though one of the sites selected was no longer available. If those OTWs were built, additional purse funds would be directed to Freehold's purse account, allowing horsemen to race for better purses. Without those OTWs, horsemen are racing for paltry purses, some of the worst in the Northeast.
Could this dispute result in the closing of Freehold? It's possible but I tend to doubt it at this point. The NJRC will no doubt try to reach a compromise between the two parties, but it appears the SBOANJ is finally taking a stand against Pennwood for its inaction with regards to the OTWs. Quite honestly, it is about time.