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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Ball is in the Industry's Court

What a turn around.  Just two or three weeks after announcing the Meadowlands stakes program was going to be slashed severely to start recouping the over-payment of the purse account, a new release comes out indicating the stakes program will remain relatively intact.  Specifically, the press release says:

Another important decision made in view of the robust market for yearlings at the recently concluded Lexington Selected Yearling Sale is to maintain as many of the Grand Circuit stakes at as close to current purse levels as possible, despite the burden of a purse account that is currently overpaid by $5 million.

What does this mean?  After all, only the Federal Reserve Bank can print money so something has to give?  There is a big 'IF' here, it is called sponsorship.  Specifically:

The reality of sustaining a stakes program anywhere close to what we are accustomed to at the Meadowlands will require industry support via sponsorship of these races. We hope to be able to find sponsors for all of our stakes and Jason Hall will be reaching out to the major owners, breeders, vendors and other participants to hopefully raise enough in sponsorships to keep the majority of stakes programs in place. 

Now this is speculation on my part, I may be totally wrong.  My suspicion is industry leaders were concerned about the slash and burn of stakes races at the Meadowlands and asked for Jeff Gural to reconsider.  If I am wrong, then it is a question of him deciding to ask the industry to sponsor the stakes.  Either way, we get this press release which basically says, "Okay, time to put up or shut up.  If these stakes races are so important, let's see the industry put up their money and sponsor these races".  In effect, putting the fate of these stakes into the hands of industry leaders.

Gural's detractors are no doubt going to be criticizing Gural for passing the hat around, but lest anyone forget, there is precedent for sponsorship.  After all, the entire Grand Circuit meet at The Red Mile is sponsored by the very people Gural is asking to pony up now.

The ball is now in the industry's court.  


Anonymous said...

An ingenious proposal from Mr. Gural. He still says he won't pump his money into all the stakes that have been raced at his track for years. If anyone thinks that's not good, their money is welcome. It will be difficult for those owners who have won tens of thousands, maybe millions, from stakes at The Meadowlands to ignore his plea.

Pacingguy said...

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Quite honestly, I am not sure.

My question is with some money still going to fund stakes races, money has to be deducted from somewhere. Will Jeff continue to use his own money, albeit at a reduced level, or are overnight purses going to be cut even deeper?

Anonymous said...

Big money stakes bring prestige to a track and some draw more customers to races. Overnight races attract the bettors. Jeff Gural should look to increase purses for the usual conditioned and claiming horses. How? Less of his money for stakes.

If the owners and suppliers to racing will sponsor stakes, great. If not, the owners, trainers and drivers will miss them much more than the customers. There is still plenty of stakes money at slot supported tracks.

I doubt the Meadowlands Pace and Hambletonian are going anywhere, but most stakes have lost their ability to get customers excited through betting. Three, four and even more horses from the same trainer isn't good. Look at NASCAR. Owners have more than one car in a race now, but how popular would NASCAR be if one owner had 50% of the field and another owner had 30%? Action on the track wouldn't be the same.

Blaine said...

The industry isn't blind to the plainly obvious. The only harness racing tracks that have genuine betting pools are WEG and the Meadowlands(60%-70% larger than WEG). Ya gotta protect the track that generates the most betting interest and that is the Meadowlands. The Meadowlands strength is its stakes schedule. Yonkers is an overnight heaven, but nobody bets the races. There's a reason why Genting and Empire on the NY side of the Hudson River are funding the anti-casino referendum in New Jersey. The Meadowlands is unstoppable if slots/VLT's are ever allowed there. Could you imagine the size of the overnights and the Sire Stakes if gaming happens at the racingfacility right off Paterson Plank?

Anonymous said...

The majority of the Meadowlands "stake races" handle no better than their crappy overnights, and in many cases, handle less. The reason people play The Big M has nothing to do with "prestige", but rather it is what they're "used to". Clearly the horses and drivers are sub-par (overall), yet people still bet the races because it's "what they're used to". It's the same reason a track like Monticello still handles as well (and sometimes better) than tracks like Yonkers, Chester, and Pocono, which obviously have far better drivers, trainers, and horses. Unfortunately, the Meadowlands is controlled by an egomaniac who along with his investors (many of the big owners who RACE in those juicy stakes races), use the facility as their private playground, banning all the trainers viewed as a threat to their "free money", while turning a blind eye to the well known violators amongst them. You get what you deserve.

Anonymous said...

And almost the entirety of the big handles at the Meadowlands comes from syndicates that get a huge break on their take-outs. No one at any of the OTBs/racetracks that I attend is betting the Meadowlands. Watch the pools if you can ever get yourself to fit into the new facility. All of the money comes in at once with 2 minutes remaining (or less) until post-time. The racing is terrible and its impact on the sport at this point in time is debatable at best. The Hambletonian, once a treasure, is now a glorified overnight event where you can count the people in the stands. Gural even admits that if it weren't for the possibility of getting a casino, he would never have bought the track. Thanks Jeff for your admission to not giving a darn about the sport to which you claim to be the savior!

Anonymous said...

Spot on about the snydicates and the break on takeouts. Wouldn't we all love to bet into pools with an effective 10% takeout rate? The crux though is that this is yet another fraud. It is a manipulation of what the real handle numbers would be. All that cash is being bet off track. With the rebates to give the break on takeouts, the track makes nothing. Then Gural cries that the purse account is underwater despite the great handle numbers. He can't have it both ways. No one will care when he wants to renegotiate the fees for M1 signal. This will probably be the next hue and cry. Then M1 won't bets take on competing tracks. VERY few will care.