In Harness Racing Update, Brian Sears tells HRU why he has decided to race at Yonkers this winter with an eye towards possibly returning to the Meadowlands in the spring. Basically, he is looking to take it easier this year and to be honest, looking to race where there is more money available.
In the article, Jeff Gural talks about his disappointment regarding Sears' defection but when you read his comments closer, his disappointment is more about how he thought the industry would support the Meadowlands by sacrificing a little to help it do well. Instead, from a lot of people Gural has heard words of support but action which belies those comments. Trainers sending horses to where the most money can be made and drivers racing where the purses are higher (not that anyone would starve being successful at the Meadowlands). In other words, looking out for themselves instead of what is good for the industry on the whole.
Make no mistake, what happens at the Meadowlands will foretell what will happen in harness racing. If the Meadowlands survives, racing remains stable if not improves. Should the Meadowlands fail, racing will survive but with a smaller niche, probably right there with mule racing out west. Yet, as important success at the Meadowlands is for the industry, many in the industry focus on themselves instead of the big picture.
Let's not kid ourselves, the fact many in the industry look out for number one and not the sport is why racing is in the situation it is in; neighboring tracks racing at the same time, tracks and horsemen implementing restrictions which devastate racing elsewhere, drivers and trainers heading for other tracks as soon as they offer a little more money, etc. If Gural has made any mistake in his acquisition of the Meadowlands, it was his thinking the industry and its members would coalesce around the Meadowlands. All I can say is it is a good thing Gural made that mistake for if he knew then what he knows now, the Meadowlands would already be dead and buried.
Here is an interview with Jeff Gural on NJ Today regarding his first year of operating the Meadowlands.