Exodus of stallions destroy New Jersey racing

02:13 PM 30 Nov 2012 NZDT
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Courtesy Of Perretti Farms

The loss of New Jersey stallions to slots-enriched programs in other states is now a reality. Perretti Farms in Cream Ridge, NJ has announced that it has moved two of the harness racing industry's premier stallions to Pennsylvania for the 2013 breeding season.

Muscles Yankee and Rocknroll Hanover will be relocated from Perretti’s 1,000 acres of prime farmland in Upper Freehold Township across the state line to Newtown, PA to take advantage of the casino-enriched purses in Pennsylvania, especially the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes program.

The New Jersey Sire Stakes program, which for three decades was the model for other states and provinces, is now one of the weakest because of the paucity of purse money.

“New Jersey is no longer competitive, putting more than 170,000 acres of equine farmland in jeopardy,” said Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association President Tom Luchento. “Without a healthy breeding program, the stallions and broodmares will move – have moved -- to adjoining states where they are flushed with the cash from casinos and racinos [racetracks with casino-style wagering].

“Not only is the preservation of farmland at stake, but also more than 10,000 jobs currently filled by tax-paying residents who are ill-equipped to change careers and will end up on welfare rolls,” Luchento added.

“Trenton continues to focus on ways to improve Atlantic City and other businesses which provide fewer jobs, while the horseracing industry gets pushed aside,” Luchento said. “They have tried to Band-Aid the problem with a few short term solutions. Meanwhile, the wound continues to grow, and the decision by Perretti Farms is a pure product of that injury.

“Anthony Perretti and his father, Bill, do not want to move their stallions from New Jersey,” Luchento explained. “But they have no choice but to protect the value of their stallions. The yearlings they sold this fall dropped in value in large part because the New Jersey Sire Stakes program and the purse structure at the Meadowlands have been eviscerated. Meanwhile, the surrounding states value their horse racing industry and offer great purses. New Jersey simply cannot compete unless things in this state begin to change,”

Breeding a race horse is a three-year process and decisions made now have an impact in the years ahead.

“These are not decisions that can be ‘kicked down the road,’” Luchento said. “Our leadership in Trenton needs to start supporting horse racing before the horses all leave the state. Coupling horse racing with casinos has been a winning combination in states like Pennsylvania and New York. Gaming helps supplement the purses in those states, making them a magnet for breeding stock and racehorses. The loser in this contest has been New Jersey.

“Our state needs to take on a similar model in order to save the horse racing industry and help us reinvigorate this great sport,” he added. “New Jersey needs to offer better purses in order to attract the best horses, trainers and drivers. For more than 30 years, the position of New Jersey as the No. 1 harness racing state was unquestioned. That is why people like the Perrettis invested in New Jersey real estate and played an important role in the preservation of farmland. Now they are being chased from this state because of purse-money inequity.

“In a time when jobs need to be saved, not scrapped, the powers-that-be in Trenton need to help us to help ourselves with nothing more than what neighboring states have provided their horse racing industries,” Luchento added. “This is a valuable industry in this state for people who work the land and livestock. Not everyone is meant to be a city or suburban dweller with a job, sitting behind a desk. These are people who work with the horses in all weather, making a 24/7 commitment to the well-being of the horses in their care. This is a way of life that is in jeopardy.

“We know from polls and surveys that New Jersey citizens treasure their Green Acres and support the racing industry,” Luchento said. “All we ask for is that the governor and the legislature take the necessary steps to protect our farms and tracks by bringing slots to the Meadowlands. That in turn would reverse the exodus out of New Jersey and return such farms as Perretti’s to preeminence.”

by Carol HODES for SBOANJ

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