Update: Okay, it is not my final word after all. See next post.
A final word from me, now that the OHHA and others are taking their pot shots at Jeff Gural. Admittedly, some of the criticism is well-deserved for rather than excluding Sears right away, one last attempt at reaching a compromise with Sears to drive at the Meadowlands should have been attempted; to see if they could get him live mounts during the period he was to race here (though Sears not wanting the Meadowlands to tell trainers he would be there contributed to the lack of drives).
Now, this is not a defense of Jeff Gural. Gural is more than capable of defending himself. Plus, while I believe excluding Sears from driving at the three tracks is his right, I don't think it was an appropriate move as any future exclusions which up to now have been accepted will now be questioned under because of the Sears exclusion.
But I give him a pass. Why you may ask?
I constantly hear people say Gural doesn't have any significant amount of money involved in the Meadowlands, it is all his partners' money. Well, why I don't know how much of Gural's own money is invested in the Meadowlands, as the lead partner, he has a fiduciary responsibility to treat any investor's money as if it was his own invested so that argument doesn't hold sway.
People talk how he only bought the Meadowlands for the slots which are bound to show up; that he is an opportunist. Well, if it was such a sweet deal, why didn't anyone else try to take over the track? First of all, this is New Jersey; there are no guarantees of anything in New Jersey except political scandals. While slots makes logical sense for the Meadowlands, there is no guarantee; for all we know, slots may end up in another part of the state, if at all. Secondly, these people act as if Gural is some Johnny Come Lately to the sport. Gural owns and owned horses before he bought the Meadowlands. Gural operates a major breeding farm and has done so before he purchased the rights to operate the Meadowlands. Gural has a real interest in the sustainability of harness racing.
People complain about the fact the Meadowlands for the most part is racing twice a week; as if that is not enough days. Well, how many days should the Meadowlands race? Sure they could race four to five days a week; that is if purses of $4,000 for $6,000 claimers is acceptable. Is that what people want to see? There is no slot revenue coming into the track to supplement purses and significant amount of simulcasting dollars wagered at the Meadowlands goes to thoroughbred interests at Monmouth Park.
From my observations, let's look at what Gural has experienced since he took over the Meadowlands. #1 - The realization the only way things get done in harness racing is if someone grabs the bull by the horn and even then, you have to do battle with those who feel the status quo is fine. #2 - Many of those people who praised him when he took over the Meadowlands, decided after the deal closed to look out for number one, as if they were saying "Good Luck" on their way out the door. #3 - Tracks which benefit from the Meadowlands via simulcasting seemingly take steps which hurt the Meadowlands. #4 - Interference from external horsemen groups. If all this was happening to you, I dare say occasionally, you may make an unpopular decision or even one you wish you didn't make.
I have one request for those taking their shots at Gural. Do you think if someone gives their word to you and they renege it, they should be allowed to get away with impunity? If you answered that question with a 'No', then I suggest blame can be shared.