Day At The Track

SBOANJ issues call for unity & support

04:28 AM 30 Jul 2010 NZST
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Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey

The Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey held a meeting with nearly 150 harness racing trainers, drivers, breeders, owners and caretakers on Thursday, July 29, 2010 at the Meadowlands Racetrack, calling on the horsemen to support efforts to revitalize racing in the state.

“Horses have been a cornerstone of New Jersey since colonial days and a major component of the state’s agri-business for a hundred years,” said Tom Luchento, president of the SBOANJ. “Notwithstanding the Governor’s Report prepared by Jon Hanson, we are not folding, fading or leaving. Let me dispel the rumors. We are not done here. We are not close to closing the doors here [the Meadowlands] or at Freehold.

“Given the nature of the Commission [The New Jersey Gaming, Sports and Entertainment Advisory Commission], the Hanson Report was not a surprise but it was still a hard pill to swallow,” he added. “What the Report offers racing are largely undoable options.

“Our appeal to the state is not only for the preservation of racing but also the land that is dedicated to horse farms, training centers and the supporting industries,” Luchento noted. “This is a Green Acres issue in this state. Already half the open space in New Jersey has been developed and more will follow.

“We are not going quietly into the night,” Luchento said. “We have a battle to fight and both the thoroughbred horsemen and the standardbred horsemen are united in this battle.”

The overriding theme by Luchento and several other speakers who asked questions was their frustration with the Hanson Report and the need for unity.

Luchento asked horsemen to express their concerns to their legislators and to attend the Gaming Summit at Atlantic City’s Convention Center at 10 a.m. on August 6 and a second session that will take place at the Meadowlands in September.

Full text of Tom Luchento’s presentation

Horses have been a cornerstone of New Jersey since colonial days and a major component of the state’s agri-business for a hundred years.

Notwithstanding the Governor’s Report prepared by Jon Hanson, we are not folding, fading or leaving.

Let me dispel the rumors. We are not done here. We are not close to closing the doors here or at Freehold.

Given the nature of the Commission, the Hanson Report was not a surprise but it was still a hard pill to swallow.

What the Report offers racing are largely undoable options. No one would lease or buy the track without slots. Racing at other venues like Monmouth Park, Atlantic City or a training center are not good alternatives.

Never has racing in this state been in a more precarious position. We need your support. It is crucial that you support New Jersey racing at the entry box and by voicing your concerns to the Governor and your representatives in Trenton.

We are well aware that you and I are standing on an incredibly valuable piece of property, coveted by power brokers who have visions of sleek hotels and sparkling casinos. Well, they are not going to deny us slots and turn this into Atlantic City north.

We are not going quietly into the night. We have a battle to fight and both the thoroughbred horsemen and the standardbred horsemen are united in this battle.

We have the support of horsemen throughout North America. We have met with representatives of the Hambletonian Society, the United States Trotting Association and other groups who support us. We thank Mike Tanner, executive director of the USTA, for coming tonight. We appreciate the wisdom of the Hambletonian Society Board, including president Tom Charters and chairman John Cashman.

Breeders including Anthony Perretti of Perretti Farms, Mark Mullen of Fair Winds Farm, Mike Gulotta of Deo Volente, George Segal of Brittany Farms and Jim Simpson of Hanover Shoe Farms have championed our cause and support us.

We are reviewing solutions offered by many sources. Among them could be something similar to what is taking place at Monmouth Park this summer – an elite meet of 100 days with $400,000 a day in purses. We will look for funding to support this as well as our breeding programs. We believe that at least half of this can be generated by handle on our live races.

  • We look for the expansion of Off Track Wagering locations and a share in their ownership.
  • We could ask for the sales tax on horse sales and claiming races to be dedicated to purses.
  • We have not given up on a purse enhancement agreement – or even racinos.

ur appeal to the state is not only for the preservation of racing but also the land that is dedicated to horse farms, training centers and the supporting industries. This is a Green Acres issue in this state. Already half the open space in New Jersey has been developed and more will follow.

We need to continue to speak with one voice. We need the taxpayers of New Jersey to understand that a racino at the Meadowlands will yield $1 billion in tax relief and services for all citizens, not the chosen few in Atlantic County.

A group of legislators has called for a Gaming Summit which will make its first stop in Atlantic City on Friday, August 6 at 10 a.m. in the Convention Center. We will be there. We would like you there too.

There will also be another session held at the Meadowlands in September. It will be essential that this is fully supported by all horsemen.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Meadowlands is not only the cornerstone of New Jersey racing, it is essential to the entire industry.

Like the Yankees are to baseball, the Meadowlands is the most important franchise in the sport. We cannot let this franchise die.

Carol HODES

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