Day At The Track

Jeff Gural quote is required reading

11:37 AM 25 Mar 2018 NZDT
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Racino Casino Owner Quote is required reading for anyone questioning intentions towards racing

It has long been a belief by many in the harness racing business that “the horsemen are the guardians of the sport,” and there is no doubt that we have a direct and abiding interest in making sure this game survives. And while we have long known that some entities and individuals who have benefitted from harness racing would rather see us and our game disappear, rarely is this unfortunate and ugly truth detailed as blatantly as it was in Harness Racing Update on March 18th. 

In an article discussing the future of marketing harness racing and the relationship between racino/casino owners and racing, Jeff Gural was quoted on the record as admitting that “the tracks – including me, if I’m just wearing my ‘track hat’ – all want harness racing to disappear as quickly as possible” and “so they are going to do whatever they can do to make that happen.”

While Mr. Gural’s conclusion may not be a surprise to astute watchers of the game, the cavalier manner in which he so easily dismisses an agriculture/harness industry that employs tens of thousands of New Yorkers is stunning and should be required reading for every regulator and legislator who has heard our horsemen’s and breeder’s concerns in recent years.  Sadly, it seems the owners have forgotten that their entire VLT model was made possible by a thoughtful legislative initiative that mutually benefitted education, agriculture, breeding, racing and the state treasury.  And now it is clear that at least some of them are not only not our “partners,” but are absolutely an enemy among us actively seeking to kill our industry.

So while there are certainly exceptions – I’m proud to report that the SOA of NY has been working very effectively in partnership with management at Yonkers Raceway to expand racing into new global markets and concurrently grow our domestic handle – the reality is that too many track owners have no interest in helping to support racing through innovative marketing or other means. Yet there are those who want us to take their advice, use and spend our purse money,  while they plot our demise.  This is despite the fact that in New York there is a marketing and promotion allowance that the state provides the operators of these VLT machines, who collectively take in $300,000,000 per year, for the promotion of both video lottery gaming and horse racing.  The state clearly understands the value of allowing the operators to seamlessly market the sport along with their own interests. 

Once again, let’s be clear that no one is naïve enough to be particularly shocked that this is how the racing industry is treated by some of our supposed “partners”.  However as partners  and guardians of the sport – guardians working seemingly alone every day to find new ways to help our industry grow and thrive –we have a duty to continue to try to work cooperatively despite such comments which and  speak out about the clear, direct interests lined up against us…and which was finally just confirmed for all of the world to read.

By Joe Faraldo

President, SOA of NY


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