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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Law and Order

As you may have read in today's Harness Racing Update, Joe Faraldo has been handed a lifetime ban from the three Gural tracks for listing himself as trainer on two horses for this Friday's Billings events at the Meadowlands when they are actually trained by a trainer on the exclusion list who is listed as the trainer whenever the horses race in New York.

Needless to say Faraldo is claiming foul, that the exclusion is in revenge for his engineering the defeat of a bill in New York State which would have allowed Gural's horses to race at Tioga and Vernon Downs in overnight events where they currently are prohibited from racing.  More about this in a moment.

It would very well appear this exclusion is retaliatory as these horses were entered twice at the Meadowlands and allowed to race, without question.  Faraldo's exclusion came after he raced his horses this past Friday night.  The race office should have rejected the entries the first time if Faraldo was violating the rules.

Truth is, trainers often change when racing in another state.  I for one know of one trainer who, when sending horses to New York, had the horses race under the owner's name as trainer because of Workers Compensation requirements in the Empire State; the trainer didn't have the required coverage.  Truth is horses often race under different names at different tracks for a myriad of reasons; sometimes innocently, other times to get around rulings (aka, bearding).

It certainly would appear the ban comes in retribution for Faraldo leading the effort to keep track owners from racing in overnight events at their own track.  However, Faraldo must have known Gural would be gunning for him; hence unless looking to provoke action, Faraldo should have dotted his 'i's and crossed his 't's and not given Gural a reason to ban him.

Of course, Faraldo is not the only one to suffer for the legislation going down to defeat.  Gural has also decided horses stabled at tracks where horsemen opposed the legislative change would not be allowed to qualify at Gural's tracks; they would still be able to race.  For the horsemen in these association groups, their penalty is more of an inconvenience.  Still, a pretty ballsy action from Gural considering how full the entry box has been at his tracks as these horsemen may decide 'if they can't qualify there, they aren't going to race there'.

Quite honestly, as much as it may be an inconvenience it may be to get Gural's horses to race in overnight events, the legislature was right to defeat the legislation which would have allowed him to race his horses locally.  I would never suggest any chicanery on the part of Jeff Gural, but allowing a track operator to race at his own tracks in overnight events would not be a good idea; the perception given when the track operator wins would be he was allowed to win because he owns the track.  Just think what handicappers would be saying the first time a track operator's horse was involved in an inquiry and allowed to stay up.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if Faraldo and Gural would work together instead of having their occasional dust ups?  We can hope, someday.


Anonymous said...

First, I like most of what Mr. Gural has done for racing and think Mr. Faraldo is often an obstructionist when it comes to improving racing for fans and bettors.

Second, this public feud between the two men doesn't help harness racing's image. If anything, it confirms what some of the public believes. The decision makers, wherever their power lies, care more about themselves than the sport's future.

Beyond the first two points, no state should allow a track owner, managers, judges or anyone else involved in organization and policing of racing to own and race horses where they work. Even the appearance of a conflict of interest should be avoided.

Count said...

What a shame that Jeff Gural has been revealed to be nothing but a hypocrite. When he first came on the scene, I too was fooled into thinking that he was genuinely interested in preserving the sport of harness racing and bringing back to it some integrity. It turns out that all he did was make a "deal" to further enhance his riches and megalomania without taking any risks whatsoever. He gets ALL of his money back in the event a racino is not agreed upon at his site. He banishes people at his own free will. The handles at the Meadowlands are so artificially inflated that it's laughable, not to mention their attendance figures (Hambo day had 8000 at most NOT 23,000). The product at the track is atrocious. The building he made is completely substandard from the flawed architecture to the inadequate restrooms, to its pathetically small size. My disappointment in this man is boundless.

Pacingguy said...

Count, I do believe he wants harness racing to thrive; why else would he have breeding farms?

The deal with the Meadowlands was smart negotiating because he knows over the long term harness racing can't sustain itself without slots.. If he was taking a risk, along with his partners, he would be foolish not to protect himself.

As for his exclusionary practices, I have no problem with them in theory. Of course there is at minimum, a perception issue of selectivity at best, at worst abuse of the system. I would like to see some transparency to his exclusionary practices, such as a rule book which will explain what will get you tossed out and adhere to it but then a lawyer would likely tell him not to do it.

As for the size of the track? I think it is of realistic size; this is the way it is attendance-wise. As for the quality of racing, it is a factor of what you can pay.

Anonymous said...

I would argue the point that Mr. Gural "wants harness racing to thrive"; I think a better assessment is that he wants harness racing to "thrive" for a select group, specifically himself, and his small circle of "advisors" and "partners". It's very telling that virtually ANY successful trainer that's NOT part of that clique has either been tossed already, or is always under scrutiny; on the other hand, those that are part of the "in crowd" are never questioned, and even worse, when news is released about a large number of ACTUAL positives (the glaucine episode), he actually DEFENDS the trainers that tested positive, blaming "contamination" (or anything else) rather than toss them. Other trainers have been tossed for FAR less, but then again, THEY don't train for "The Boss".
It must be nice to be "in" with the guy that decides just who gets to race at his facilities - and that's why it's so important that track owners are never allowed to race at their OWN facilities; the abuses (and equally important, the perception of abuses) have run rampant at these tracks, and the public is not pretending that it doesn't exist.


Jeff is absolutely right.. Ban the troublemakers...He owns horses just like the rest of the owners. and wants to see them race. If the horseman from other tracks, think the race office, judges are going to favorite Jeff's horses, then why would they want to race there anyway? Do you really think what purse money Jeff wins, makes a difference to him.. He is a very rich man, who loves and wants to see his horses race AT HIS OWN TRACKS.

Count said...

Amazing that for such a rich man that apparently doesn't need the money, the purses at the Meadowlands are mighty low. Where is all the money from these alleged "record handles" that they have there going? Tracks with these types of handles have had a much better purse structure historically WITHOUT ANY SLOT MONEY than what currently is being meted out at Gural Central. Jeff loves investigations so I think that this is where an investigation by an independent party is certainly warranted.

Pacingguy said...

Count, supposedly there is a $6 million deficit in the purse account.

Blaine said...

Level the playing field and then lets see if the Meadowlands can compete with the other tracks.