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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Chicago Stop; Horsemen Going to Pay; Priorities

Now that the ADW question has been resolved, it appears a lack of a contract between the IHHA and Balmoral and Maywood Park will keep harness racing dark in the Chi-Town area.  This comes after Balmoral Park posted a condition sheet for Wednesday with a 17% cut in purses; something feared by all parties.  Right now it appears the IRB will not allow racing to proceed without a contract (that's assuming enough horses dropped in the entry box to race) so Wednesday night's season opener looks in doubt.

Unlike many horsemen-track disputes, this one seems civil as each side knows where the other side is coming from.  Both sides acknowledge the horsemen can't continue to race for low purses as they know the track can't spend what they don't have.  With slots legislation dangled in front of the parties for the last two years to be told it's coming, only for it to get vetoed or not introduced, how much longer can everyone operate on the premise 'slots are coming'?

One expects a deal will be coming soon, perhaps not in time for Wednesday's opener, but hopefully by next week.  It is just a question of the two sides finding a point where they both can bleed equally and survive.

In the meanwhile, rumor has it that Miami Valley is trying to induce some Chicago trainers to head to their new track.  If the trainers have the ability to move, they may be forced to do so.

For those complaining about the MHHA refusing to pay fees to race in overnight events, one needs to look at the shut down of Colonial Down's OTBs due to the lack of a contract with the HBPA.  Management wants a 12 day race meet while the horsemen want a 30 day meet despite the fact the purse account can support the horsemen's 30 day demand.  The reason for management's refusal?  To cut down on overhead expenses.  From a HBPA press release (available at the Paulick Report), the HBPA states:

Colonial is quite willing to run an eight week meet if the horsemen agree to pay from their purse account the track’s usual operating costs including, but not limited to: (1) the human ambulance for racing and training; (2) jockey insurance; (3) stall rent; (4) manure disposal; (5) the horse shuttle between Maryland and Colonial Downs; (6) programs given to horsemen in the racing secretary’s office; (6) horsemen’s admission to the fourth floor grandstand; and, (7) advertising in the Daily Racing Form and on HRTV. The track also proposed making no contribution to the horsemen’s purse account from handle at a new off track betting facility Colonial intends to open in the Richmond area.  

What, they don't want them to pay for the salaries of most of the employees?

Harness horsemen better pay attention because this is the next stage for racing at gaming tracks.  Anything more than a minimum meet required to keep their gaming going, management is going to be looking for horsemen to foot the bill to reduce the financial hit their parent companies will be taking on continuing operations.

Being someone who hates things which are over hyped, these two weeks have been living hell for me as well as others (granted a minority) who could care less about the Super Bowl.  Not only did the Meadowlands have to suspend racing for the benefit of the NFL, those living in the area are forced to endure stories about the Super Bowl one could care less about .  As far as I am concerned, if the Super Bowl never comes to the New York/New Jersey area again, I will be one happy camper.  

To make things worse, there is zero harness racing activity today, short of four qualifiers scheduled for Miami Valley Gaming and Racing.  In Canada, things are a little better with racing at Flamboro Downs, Fraser Downs, and Rideau Carleton Raceway.  It looks like a day of Puppy Bowl X watching starting at 3pm today. 

I realize I am a small minority when it comes to the Super Bowl but while New York is certain to come out ahead when it comes to public and private funding for the event versus economic benefit, I feel pretty certain on the West side of the Hudson River the State of New Jersey is deriving little economic benefit, possibly to the point the state will not get their money back.  Making matters worse, what 'real' money being made is likely going to be going in the coffers of the league or otherwise heading out of state.  The ironic thing is if the state spent a fraction of that money to support horse racing in the state instead of getting snookered by another sports team/league, there would have been a financial  benefit with the money remaining in New Jersey.

Meanwhile, here is news about another fundraiser to benefit the Coletta family in managing the medical bills being incurred by Anthony Coletta since his accident back in November.

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