Day At The Track

Jeff Gural's HHACNY Rebuttal

12:22 AM 15 Dec 2007 NZDT
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Jeff Gural
Jeff Gural
Courtesy Of Monticello Raceway

The Harness Horse Association of Central New York, through their attorney, Joe Faraldo, has attempted to create the impression that the horsemen at Vernon are the victims of a greedy wealthy racetrack operator who cares nothing about their well being.

They claim that the horse owners were promised 9.25 percent of VGM revenue in previous legislation and that the legislation that passed in the Senate yesterday does nothing to protect the breeders and horsemen and the Agricultural industry statewide.

They also claim that we are attempting to dismantle the backstretch under the guise of trying to comply with Federal Cafo requirements and that they will not benefit if we build a hotel or convention center with the money included in the Capital Improvement Allowance in the new legislation.

Taking these issues one by one Mr. Gural and his partners have been funding the costs of keeping the racetrack and backstretch open for the last three years at a cost to-date of over $15,000,000, which clearly they will never recover.

Together Tioga and Vernon lose about $12,000,000 per year and if this legislation passes it will reduce these losses to around $4,000,000 which they hope to erase by increasing marketing, making major capital improvements and reducing costs.

he previous legislation that Faraldo refers to was passed in 2003 and negotiated with legislative leaders by Joe Faraldo, on behalf of the horsemen.

That law provided that the horsemen were to receive 7.5 percent for the first three years, 7.75 percent for the next two years and 10 percent for the last five years.

When that provision was taken out of the law, after it was found unconstitutional by the Appellate Court, all of the tracks in the state negotiated contracts with their horsemen giving them a low of 7.25 percent and a high of 8.50 percent.

Here the Vernon the horsemen agreed to a contract giving them 8.25 percent and now apparently they are insulted that the legislation that passed yesterday in the Senate only gives them 8.5 percent, an increase over what they contractually agreed to last year.

What Faraldo is not telling anyone is that his original demands at Vernon were for the horsemen to receive almost 11 percent of our revenue on the theory that the horsemen should receive 25 percent of any tax benefits that we receive from the State.

Why the State would be taking money from education to give to the horsemen is anybody’s guess as I think most people would want to see this money going to pay for teachers.

It should be noted that on a statewide basis the taxpayers are subsidizing the horsemen’s purses by over $60,000,000 and that at Mr. Faraldo’s home track, Yonkers Raceway the subsidy is approximately $30,000,000 per year.

he bill includes language which was inserted that helps preserve the barn area and we are spending over $1,000,000 to meet the requirements of the state as it relates to animal waste.

When we are done we will have 470 stalls available and all the barns will have new roofs and will be repaired and painted.

he law provides money for capital improvements but in order to qualify it must be for an improvement which will increase VGM revenue.

Since the horsemen receive 8.5 percent of the revenue they automatically are benefiting from any of these improvements.

Obviously building a hotel and convention center benefits the horsemen who by the way don’t have to invest a penny to benefit from these types of improvements.

Faraldo complains about us cancelling the last days of racing but fails to mention that there was no money in the purse account, despite the fact that Mr. Gural had personally loaned the purse account over $400,000 in order to get to the end of the October.

Our contract provides that we give the horsemen $250,000 annually to provide health insurance for their members but they have no health insurance.

Where is the money? No one knows.

n short, nothing Faraldo says is accurate. He makes up his facts as he goes along and when we give him what he wants he decides he needs more.

As they say, all good things have to come to an end and the free ride that the horsemen have had for the last three years has now ended.

We do regret the inconvenience this will cause to the many horsemen who don’t support the HHA of CNY and we truly hope this legislation will eventually pass and we can reopen the barn area complete our renovations and begin the capital improvements we need to improve business.

On behalf of Jeffrey Gural

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