As expected, the Hambletonian Society is dropping the 'Gural Rule' starting with foals of 2018. In addition to the Hambletonian Society, WEG is joining the Hambletonian Society in this decision as well, leaving the Meadowlands alone in keeping the rule in place.
In an act of both defiance and principle, the Meadowlands is changing its policies so any horse sired by a four year old will be banned from racing at all Gural tracks (with the exception of the Hambletonian) in all races; stakes, overnight, and even qualifiers (unsure of when it takes effect). This will be a costly move for it will further reduce the pool of race horses available to the Gural tracks, especially the Meadowlands which is typically strapped for horses to fill its races.
This makes the need for slots at the Meadowlands even greater for less horses means less races which results in a smaller income stream, making it even harder to operate the track for the long term. Hence if slots don't come to the Meadowlands, rest assure Gural will invoke the part of the lease which allows him to be reimbursed for building the new grandstand after which he will walk away. Then we will see what happens when all Meadowlands stakes disappear.
In some ways, it appears Gural has thrown in the towel regarding the sport, worrying now about his tracks and doing what he feels is right for them while the industry continues with its 'grab the money while it's there' attitude. One can't blame him. It has been obvious for a while there has been a backlash against Gural as he iss unwilling to join in the proverbial state of inaction which pervades the sport. Hence, the Gural tracks are going their own way.
I support what Jeff Gural is doing. I do fear, at least with the Meadowlands, it will basically become an island. The question is how lonely it will be?
The platitudes for Jim Doherty keep on coming. His hometown newspaper, The Guardian, discusses how much of a gentleman he was. Considering how long it has been since he was in the Canadian Maritimes, it says something that The Guardian even mentioned his passing.