For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Does Anyone Pay Attention or Care?

In the traditional winners circle photo, you get your usual visitors to celebrate the victory.  Only problem is the people are allegedly owners of a different horse in the race.  Doesn't this strike you as weird?

Supposedly this has happened more than once.  At the best, this is poor judgement by the individuals involved, at its worst, it would give people the idea that 'Something is Rotten in Denmark'.

If other claims are to be believed, it gets somewhat worse (nothing which would suggest race fixing) but let's just stick with the winners circle photo.  Granted, the casual horseplayer wouldn't be able to identify one owner from another, but certainly horsemen and track officials should be able to.

The question I have is maybe once, maybe twice this may not raise an eyebrow but certainly after a little while, shouldn't someone have noticed and reported the issue to the appropriate racing commission for investigation?

Have we gotten to the point where people aren't doing their jobs properly or is it they just don't care anymore?  Then we wonder why harness racing is less popular than ever?


Anonymous said...

I am suspicious of a lot of things that happen at a track. Owners of a horse in the same race joining the winning owners for a photo is not one of them.

At my track, I see it. Owners can be friends, relatives, co-workers or neighbors. Nothing wrong with celebrating a victory together, even if they competed against each other in a race. If I saw an owner bet on another owner's horse in the same race and then appear in the winners circle, that's different. I'd report that to the judges both for the betting violation and the appearance of something worse.

I've also seen the mother of two drivers go to the winners circle when either son wins the race. One driver's wife might also show up with her when the brother-in-law wins, even if she owns a horse that lost in the same race. Doesn't bother me.

Anonymous said...

Your last example I agree is innocent enough. As for the rest it raises suspicion; something we can do without. I am not talking about unlicensed friends and neighbors showing up for a picture; I am talking about licensed owners.

Hypothetically, what if the celebrants were the previous listed owner of the victor and they raced another horse in the race?

I think the author is right. Something would appear not to be right.

Anonymous said...

Is it also "poor judgment" that could easily lead to a "something is rotten in Denmark" conclusion when a racetrack's investors also race their OWN horses there (often comprising much of the stakes fields), while still making the decisions as to who is allowed to race there? Is it fair to assume that the possibility exists that those with a say in these decisions are far less likely to see THEIR trainers receive extra scrutiny, while most of the "competition" remains under a watchful eye? Is it fair to look at how the "other guys" seem to always be the ones that get caught, while the "in crowd" seems to remain eternally 'clean"? Finally, how does it look when a couple of the most highly used trainers of the "in crowd" suddenly come up with major positives in NY, while avoiding ever getting caught on their "home turf"? Just some stuff to ponder.

Pacingguy said...

I have no problem when track management has a horse in an pay-in stakes race; overnights are a real problem.

If you are talking about the Meadowlands, it should be noted one of the trainers for Jeff Gural got a positive at an out of state track and accordingly, he was not allowed to race at the Meadowlands with the horse being transferred to another trainer. However, fair or not, one can wonder how likely any track operator's trainer would be treated by a private out-of-competition program. Ideally, the state would run the program but the problem there is any decision would potentially be held up going through hearings, administrative court and then civil court decisions. Only through a private program are those hurdles avoided.

As for trainers getting caught with positives in NY while not on their home turf, it is as Jeff Gural has said, state testing is a joke. NY may test for something while another state may not test for it due to cost.

The sport is certainly full of flaws, as does all of horse racing.

Anonymous said...

In an odd display of "perfect timing", it's just been announced that TWO of Gural's trainers just got hit with MAJOR Class 2 positives in NY! All the items mentioned in the comment from earlier this morning now take on even MORE significance - how does it look NOW that the supposed "clean" NJ stables (employed by Gural) have been using a Class 2 opiate, yet avoided detection right under his nose? Talk about things "smelling fishy in Denmark"!

Anonymous said...

Jeff Gural enters horses at the track he operates in New Jersey because it's allowed. It's up to the state to create a rule against it.

If Gural operated a track in Pennsylvania, he could not race his horses in a stakes or overnight race. The Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission gets a lot of criticism (much of it deserved), but prohibits what Jersey allows.

§ 183.57. Conflict of interest.

No employee, officer or racing official of any licensed association shall directly or indirectly be the owner of any horse racing at such meeting, nor shall he participate financially directly or indirectly in the purchase or sale of any horse racing at such meeting.

Pacingguy said...

Regarding the alleged positives in New York involving trainers Jeff Gural uses. If it is found that the positives are not the result of contamination, it will certainly be 'put up or shut up' time for him. That said, hearings have not been scheduled and if you read Weekend Preview (, the charges remain allegations at this time.

Count said...

Pacingguy - First I want to thank you very much for creating this blog. I check it every day and, like yourself, enjoy the sport of harness racing. When Jeff Gural first came on the scene at the Meadowlands several years ago I was delighted. I thought o myself "here's a guy with the money and the clout to really clean up the sport and return it to perhaps a glimmer of what it once was". And he seemed sincere. Unfortunately I was deluded. I began to see it before the new building went up when I spoke to the tellers who told me how they were now treated. I saw it with the food changes and the closing down of practically all of the concession stands. I saw it on the Hambletonian Days when the services and experiences degraded to the point of embarrassment. I saw it in the maintenance when the grandstand seats were not cleaned for YEARS (yes YEARS - there was a spot on the floor where a child had thrown up and it never was cleaned - I imagine it may still be there in the old building). And the proof is in the pudding. The "New" Meadowlands is not only "Not your father's racetrack" but it's not even a racetrack. It is a glorified club and bar. It is Gural's hope that he gets a casino there because it is obvious that he cares nothing about the horseplayers. They have all gone away (myself included). The place is woefully too small and loud. The new tenants are downright rowdy. You cannot even hear the race calls from the grandstand. I'm sorry Pacingguy but I just don't understand why you keep pandering to this guy. You must SEE what is going on here. And the fact that folks keep on referring to the myth that Gural put up his own money is a farce. He gets FULLY refunded should a racino not be furbished at the site. Its a win and even if I lose I win situation for him. I wish you would stop worshipping the man Pacingguy. Just look at the facts, look at the new building for Goodness sakes. He is a phoney. I wish you would come to see that. I have. Anyway God bless and keep on blogging. I, for one, thank you for it.

Pacingguy said...

I don't believe I am pandering to whim. The old grandstand was a disaster and was in disrepair before Gural came in. The fact is the old building bled money big time and the only way Gural was going to get to the new building was to cut costs. A lot more people took cuts besides the tellers. Failure to do that would result in too much red ink before the new building opened up.

The fact is the old building was way too big and a white elephant; clearly a grandstand that size was not needed and it needed to be downsized. Clearly for the track to make money or cut costs was to make the place a destination where people came for more than racing. Was it the right model? Maybe not, but something had to happen.

No, he didn't put up all the money but rest assured he has skin in the game. As to the deal if someone else gets the license for gaming at the Meadowlands, he gets refunded what it cost to build the place (not the operating expenses), that was a smart move. The fact is racing needs alternative gaming to keep going. I won't fault him for being a smart businessman.

For the record, you may have missed them but there are times I have criticized him. In the current situation, while not perfect, drug testing in racing is such a joke that something had to be done to get some semblance of integrity back. Yes, exclusion by its nature is arbitrary but until racing commissions get tough and serious about drug testing it is a wild west out there and Jeff is trying to do something about it.

Anonymous said...

First, I have no in person experience at the new Meadowlands facility. But, I believe Gural cares about racing and horseplayers. From what Count says, Gural's probably not the best boss and clearly customers have issues with what they're getting. Let's face it. There would be no Meadowlands at all if Gural didn't step up.

It reminds me of The Breeders Crown situation at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono a few years ago. Pocono was not a good venue. It has no permanent covered seating other than the dining room. The limited outside seats, including expensive reserved seating was rained out with no refunds. Limited tellers were overwhelmed for such a big event. You get the idea. But,Pocono agreed to host the championships when no other track could or would. A thank you to Pocono's management for trying when the alternative was no Breeders Crown.

If you're a Meadowlands customer, offer suggestions to Jeff Gural or Jason Settlemoir on things that could improve the experience. They seem to listen more than many track or racino operators.