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The actions taken yesterday by Jeffrey Gural in barring harness racing champion mare Lady Shadow from The Golden Girls is both unprecedented and shows how vindictive an individual he is.   Lady Shadow had a clenbuterol average of 2.9 Pica grams, or parts per billion.   This is a trace amount of a therapeutic medication routinely used by Horseman. It certainly had no performance-enhancing effect on the horse, specially at that level.    Gural clearly has a personal agenda against Lady Shadow who he has repeatedly attempted to bar from the Meadowlands.   Obviously he has an agenda against me as well for the mere fact that I exercised my constitutional right to sue him an attempt to force him to honor his contractual obligations.          Obviously the owners of Lady Shadow are extremely disappointed and will do whatever they can within their legal rights to have the mare race on Saturday.        It should be pointed out that the matter remains under appeal and we are contesting the positive and any penalty in Pennsylvania.   There simply is no rule in the state of New Jersey or even under Gural rules which would allow for him two bar a horse based upon a pending positive under appeal and Stay.   Gural repeatedly makes rules up as he goes along and then changes and breaks them as he sees fit.   There are many horses currently racing at The Meadowlands who also had positives pending but they were allowed to race without complaint.   Mr. Gural is a first class bully and unfairly creates rules to allow him to do what he wants when he wants.   It's his ball and he feels that he can take it and leave when somebody doesn't kiss his ring.   It must stop at some point for the good of the sport.   Howard Taylor

Saratoga Springs, NY – Jeff Gural is a tower in Standardbred Racing. As the owner of three racetracks: The Meadowlands in New Jersey (which features Harness racing and a short Thoroughbred meet), in addition to Standardbred tracks, Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs, both located in New York State, he has become a driving force in keeping trainers suspected of using illegal performance-enhancing drugs and those trying to buy or sell horses to slaughter out of his three racetracks. Gural will receive the Ellen and Herbert Moelis Equine Savior Award for his commitment to the humane fate and aftercare of horses bred for racing, their safety during their racing careers and toward maintaining integrity and honesty in racing. The world-renowned equine surgeon, Dr. Patricia Hogan, who was honored by Equine Advocates at this event in 2008, had this to say about her friend, Jeff Gural:  "Horse racing faces many modern challenges today, not the least of which is a shaken public confidence in the integrity of the competition itself, but also in the racing community's ability to handle the whole host of welfare issues surrounding the care (and aftercare) of our magnificent horses. Jeff Gural has certainly been a trailblazer in implementing innovative ideas that have chipped away at these problems and started some very important conversations in racing that no one wanted to have, but were sorely needed. Oftentimes, he is doing these things alone - at great personal and financial cost. He richly deserves this recognition and more from our industry."  Also being honored are actress and author, Cornelia Guest and the Honorable Ed Whitfield of Kentucky who served in the House of Representatives from 1995 – 2016. The gala will be held on Thursday, August 3rd at the historic Canfield Casino in Saratoga Springs.  Guest, who can currently be seen in the return of “Twin Peaks” on Showtime, is being honored for her equine rescue work, for her strong public stance and activism against horse slaughter and for founding the Artemis Farm Rescue in New York State for abused and slaughter-bound equines. Ed Whitfield will receive a Special Lifetime Achievement Award for his tireless work and dedication to the protection of horses. He has been a staunch opponent of horse slaughter, horse soring and all forms of equine cruelty both personally and throughout his years in Congress where he fought hard to prevent equine abuse.  The evening includes a cocktail hour, silent & live auctions, gourmet dinner by Mazzone Hospitality, award presentations and a performance by the popular country band, Skeeter Creek. The live auction will include many exciting and unique items including authentic halters worn by champions California Chrome and Arrogate. Some tickets are still available at $250 per person. For more information, please call (518) 392-0175.  Equine Advocates – P.O. Box 354 – Chatham, NY 12037 Website: www.equineadvocates.org – Email: info@equineadvocates.org  

I thought it might be easier to just send this out in advance about the Meadowlands Pace entry box. Fear The Dragon was really in good form Saturday at the Hempt and we were tempted to change plans and go and supplement to the Meadowlands Pace. I had a private conversation with Jeff Gural, owner of the Meadowlands, a week earlier and told him I would be willing to supplement if it looked like there might be 13 or less entries so Dragon could get a bye and have a week off. But I told Jeff that I thought his 150 mile two week stabling rule was totally unfair to somebody from Ohio and there was no way I would do that to my horse. It would have forced Dragon to go straight from Pocono and spend two weeks there, while the New Jersey horses all get to sit at home. This is even if he had taken a bye.  For the good of the sport I might have supplemented, but that was the clincher in deciding to stick to his original schedule. Jeff admitted that his rule had unintended consequences but was not willing to change it. I told him that although I am totally supportive of out of competition testing, that his 150 mile rule was totally unfair and in fact, I think, illegal.  I told him and would go on record saying that this geographic rule is terrible for the sport and The Meadowlands, turning it into nothing more than a "B" track which is very sad. Even if I had already paid into the race in the normal fashion and he made that rule I would have refused to go. I might have even considered legal action because how can you do that to someone like Downbytheseaside who had paid in and everything? I told Brian Brown before the Hempt Final that unless that rule was changed that there is no way I would send Dragon. That is why Brian stated in the winner circle that he was "99%" certain that Dragon would not go. The rule was not changed and Seaside (who I do not own) did not return on the trailer with Dragon back to Ohio and headed for New Jersey right after the Hempt.  Dragon came straight back to my farm and is being rested to get ready for The Adios at the Meadows. My wife and I got engaged there 42 years ago so it is a race that means something to us, especially with Roger Huston calling the races. I had been planning to supplement to the Cane at the Meadowlands as well, but again if that rule stays in place I will not. I will also never stake another horse to the Meadowlands as long as Jeff discriminates against horses not trained in New Jersey. Bruce Trogdon   GURAL RESPONDS TO TROGDON’S ALLEGATIONS REGARDING MEADOWLANDS PACE TESTING PROTOCOL The following is Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural’s response to owner Bruce Trogdon, who has blamed Gural’s out-of-competition testing rules for not supplementing his top 3-year-old colt Fear The Dragon to the $700,000 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace on July 15. “While we can appreciate Mr. Trogdon's position, everyone else has accepted the terms of our out-of-competition testing program and is ready to race. We host nearly $12 million in stakes races at the Meadowlands and no other harness track produces nightly wagering handle at our level. We achieve all of this without purses that are inflated by money from alternative gaming. Most importantly, we care about the integrity of our races, especially our signature events. If that makes us a "B Track" as Mr. Trogdon alleges, I would like to know what an "A Track" is.”    

CAPITOL — Two harness racing tracks that host electronic casino operations are looking to the state for help amid increased competition from the proliferation of casinos across upstate New York. One piece of legislation would allow Saratoga Casino Hotel in Saratoga Springs to use 4 percent of its net win for capital improvements.  Another would increase the percentage of the net win retained by Vernon Downs Casino Hotel in Vernon, near Utica. The owner has threatened to shut down if the measure is not approved, and on Wednesday, as a preparatory measure, filed the required state notice that all 345 employees will lose their jobs this autumn. Both bills have been approved by the state Senate but have been sitting in committee in the state Assembly. The 2017 legislative session is scheduled to end Wenesday. The bill to benefit the Saratoga Casino Hotel was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, and in the Assembly by Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake. Marchione explained in a news release that racinos classified as “small” -- those with fewer than 1,100 video gambling terminals -- already get to keep 4 percent for capital upgrades but “medium” racinos -- those with 1,100 to 1,900 terminals, such as Saratoga -- do not. “This legislation is all about fairness for Saratoga and ensuring a level playing field for our community’s video gaming facility to receive further investments that will support the facility, benefit our economy, help create more jobs and generate additional funding for education,” Marchione said in the news release. A billboard on Route 9 entering the city of Saratoga Springs advertisers Rivers Casino in late February. (Erica Miller) Woerner told The Gazette that one reason for the measure is the arrival earlier this year of Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady, which has cut into Saratoga Casino Hotel’s revenue. “With the opening of the Rivers Casino,” she said, “they are definitely seeing an impact on their business, so making it easier for them to start capital projects that will both create new construction jobs but also help make their facility more attractive to patrons supports the long-term health of the business, and I think it’s important to remember that the racino supports both education funding as well as the harness track and the purses for the standardbred horses.” A spokeswoman for Saratoga Casino Hotel did not return a call seeking comment for this story. The situation is similar but worse for Vernon Downs Casino Hotel, said owner Jeff Gural. When the harness track added a racino and hotel, it had one competing operation: The Oneida Indian Nation’s Turning Stone in Verona. There are now full-scale non-Indian casinos close enough to offer competition in Schenectady and Waterloo; Turning Stone, just seven miles north; and the Oneidas’ new Yellow Brick Road Casino in Chittenango, 21 miles west. And in April, the Oneidas began construction of Point Place Casino in Bridgeport, 26 miles northwest of Vernon Downs. Yellow Brick Road and Point Place were the Oneidas' angry response to the state’s allowing del Lago to open so close to Turning Stone, Gural said. “As a result, Vernon Downs is like an innocent bystander in this tumult,” he added.  “Before this, we only had to deal with Turning Stone. We were able to compete with Turning Stone, we are not able to compete with all four of them.” Under the legislation approved by the Senate, Vernon Downs would get to keep a larger percentage of net revenue from gambling done on site, and pay less to the state. Gural called it a reasonable investment by the state for an operation that employs more than 300 people in an area where jobs are not plentiful; pays $2 million a year in various local taxes; contributes $8 million to $10 million annually to education funding; and creates a positive ripple in the area economy, especially from the horses and horsemen during harness-racing season. The problem, he added, is that the taxation for the state’s racinos was established by agreement under circumstances that have since changed. “I was actually party to it,” said Gural, who also owns the Tioga Downs harness track in Nichols and the full-scale casino there, which was converted from a racino last year. Under that formula, racinos in wealthier and/or more populous areas were taxed at a higher rate, as they were likely to be more lucrative operations, he explained, while those near existing Indian casinos and/or less-wealthy areas were taxed at a lower rate. With all the new competition, Vernon Downs is less lucrative now, he said. Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, near Canandaigua, which also was struggling, received a tax break from the state in 2016. Published reports indicate some speculation among the horsemen that Vernon Downs won’t actually close, that the planned shutdown is a bit of brinksmanship by Gural. Gural hopes they’re right. “I would really be shocked if this wasn’t resolved next week, but anything can happen,” he said. “I lose about $5,000 a day, so I figured I might as well start the process of closing.” The circa-1953 track was closed for two years in the mid-2000s, reopening in 2006 after reaching an agreement with its horsemen and being approved for a state racino license. Vernon Downs’ layoff notice to the state indicates the casino would close Sept. 10, the race track Nov. 11, and the hotel Dec. 18. One or more on-site eateries would close on each of those dates, as well, and the last of the 345 employees would be gone Dec. 18. But at this point, the notice is intended only as preparation for a potential shutdown, not as the first step in an actual shutdown. “I’m highly optimistic,” Gural said. Gazette reporter Ned Campbell contributed to this story. Reprinted with permission of The Daily Gazette

Vernon, N.Y. - April 13, 2017 - Jeff Gural, Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment, announced today that he will be delaying the opening day of harness racing at Vernon Downs amid significant financial losses due to the added competition from Yellow Brick Road, Lago and Rivers. Final preparations are currently underway at Vernon Downs to open the 64th season of live harness racing, which was set for Friday, April 21. However, increased competition from the addition of these three casinos with table games has taken revenue away from the property and caused Vernon to be losing on average about $150,000 per month since November. "It is extremely unfortunate but we have no other choice than to postpone the opening day of racing at Vernon Downs. The property loses money on racing so opening racing now only makes a bad situation worse. We have requested tax relief from New York State and in meetings with the Governor's office it seemed they understood the problem and were prepared to act. Unfortunately, the legislature did not give it the priority it deserved. A tax break for Vernon Downs would not cost the taxpayers any money as taxes from gaming revenue lost from Vernon are currently being generated at our four main competitors in the region. Worse yet, including the horsemen, Vernon has the highest tax rate of its competitors. Lowering the tax rate is a way that New York can ensure that properties like Vernon Downs that do not have table games can remain competitive and continue to be an asset within the community. Since reopening Vernon as a racino in 2006 we have given almost $150 million to the State for education. My hope is that New York State will step to the plate to save the three hundred jobs of those that Vernon Downs currently employs in addition to all the jobs and benefits related to racing," commented Jeff Gural. Vernon Downs has confirmed that the property will open racing once it becomes clear that relief from the State of New York is going to be granted. The racino is hopeful that locally elected officials will weigh in and convince the legislature to act quickly to help save the hundreds of jobs currently at risk. In addition to its video lottery terminals, Vernon Downs offers live harness racing, concerts and other entertainment. Jeff Gural owns Vernon Downs in Vernon, NY and Tioga Downs in Nichols, NY. In the last decade, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs have created more than 1,000 family-sustaining jobs. For more information on Vernon Downs, please visit www.vernondowns.com. Primary Media Contact: Ursula Maunder, Vernon Downs, (315) 829-3400 ext. 3293 or umaunder@vernondowns.com Secondary Media Contact: Justin Horowitz, Vernon Downs, (607) 372-1171, jhorowitz@tiogadowns.com

Despite owning two harness racing tracks in upstate New York with casino gaming and pushing for a casino at the Meadowlands, Jeff Gural doesn’t consider himself a casino guy. “I’m a horse guy, not a casino guy,” Gural, 74, said during a recent meeting with The Press of Atlantic City’s editorial board. “I own two racetracks in upstate New York and two horse farms. It’s my hobby. Just don’t tell the IRS.” Gural, owner of the Meadowland Racetrack, was one of the key figures who sought to expand gaming to North Jersey earlier this year. While the November ballot question failed by a historically large margin, Gural still holds hope that casino gaming will be part of the Meadowlands and save the state’s horse-racing industry. Gural and Paul Fireman, a former Reebok executive, pushed last year for the referendum to expand gaming beyond Atlantic City. The question called for the properties to be at least 72 miles from Atlantic City and in different counties. The main goal of bringing gaming to the facility is to increase prize money at the track, which opened in 1976, Gural said. Higher purses, funded by casino gaming, have made Gural’s competitors, Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway in New York, Mohegan Sun Pocono in Pennsylvania and Harrah’s Philadelphia Racetrack in Chester, more attractive to racers. Empire receives $50 million in purse subsidies from slot machine revenue, while Pocono and Harrah’s split $50 million in gaming revenue for purses, Gural said. “I’m not a dummy. I recognize that harness racing is a dying business,” Gural said. “I would have no problem being profitable if I could attract the horses. The only thing that will save me at the Meadowlands is a casino.” But about 80 percent of New Jersey voters rejected the proposal last November. Gural blamed the rejection on the lack of details in the ballot question and the voting public’s lack of trust in government officials. If the ballot question had passed, Gural would have looked to partner with Hard Rock International to build a 650,000-square-foot property with 200 gambling tables and 5,000 slot machines at the site. While some opponents of expanding gaming claim it will negatively affect Atlantic City, Gural thinks competition from outside the state has already decimated the resort. “I made some calls to some casino people, and they said Atlantic City is done and will not recover,” Gural said. “The competition is just too great at this time, and everyone knows that. I love Atlantic City, but it’s a shame, it’s a slum.” Bill Cortese, executive director of Trenton’s Bad Bet, a Newark-based group opposed to the ballot question, said he is not surprised Gural is still committed to bringing casino gaming to the site. “It comes as no surprise that despite nearly eight in 10 New Jersey voters voting to oppose North Jersey casinos, Jeff Gural and his allies in Trenton are trying to circumvent the will of the people and jam through gaming expansion,” Cortese said. For now, Gural plans to sit tight until New York releases three licenses for the southern portion of the state. He hopes the release of the licenses in six years will scare people enough to vote to expand gaming to the Meadowlands. “Once that happens, voters of New Jersey would be idiots for not approving it. Common sense is common sense,” he said. “So right now I plan to sit tight and wait.” By Nicholas Huba Contact: 609-272-7046 NHuba@pressofac.com Twitter @acpresshuba Reprinted with permission of Nicholas Huba

East Rutherford, NJ - Over the weekend it became clear to me that most harness racing people had assumed that the Stallion Restriction Condition, "Gural Rule", only applied to stakes races at the Meadowlands, Vernon and Tioga, when in fact the intent was to apply them to stakes, qualifiers, baby races and overnights.   To be honest, I really thought in the long run this would help the breeders because, in my mind, we have to create new younger people to replace those of us, including myself, who are not going to live forever. Having said that, obviously most breeders do not agree and the last thing I want to do is fight with my friends in the industry who stepped up with sponsorships to help keep our stakes program in place while we wait for common sense to prevail in New Jersey and allow us to have expanded gambling. I realized it was important for all of us to work together and I have instructed Nick to revise the conditions so that the restriction only applies to stakes races at the three tracks and not anything else.   While I recognize that the rivalry last year between Always B Miki, Wiggle it Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete was not a direct result of the rule, it did show, in my mind, how important it is to have major races contested with horses that people have an allegiance to and recognize the names as opposed to our two year old stakes and some of our three year old stakes where the participants are mostly known only in the industry.   On a separate note, I want to thank the industry for stepping up to help support Sam McKee and his family during this difficult time. I understand to date the go fund me page raised over $126,000 which is truly amazing.   Sam's illness was a shock to everyone as he is probably the best liked person and the most talented announcer out there. He has worked tirelessly for the industry and especially the Meadowlands and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family while he embarks on the long road to recovery.   For our part we have advised the family that Sam will be on the payroll for the foreseeable future and that anything that the family needs we are there for them.   Meadowlands Media Relations on behalf of Mr. Gural

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands currently faces a lawsuit over the cancellation of the 2017 edition of the Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic and Thomas D'Altrui Miss New Jersey for three-year-old pacers, filed by an owner claiming eligibility. (Harnesslink has reported that the owner is attorney Howard Taylor)   While it pleased no one in Meadowlands management to exercise its right to cancel a stake, the reality is that with the purse account overpaid by more than $5 million at the end of 2016 there was little choice but to do so if management is to satisfy its many obligations to the numerous stakeholders who rely on the viability of our track and the industry.   Aside from the issues encountered in our continuing to fund these losses, The Meadowlands is required to demonstrate a plan for solvency to those financial institutions that hold the mortgage on the property. A part of that process is to submit a budget for all facets of the racing business, a budget to which it must abide. The purse/stakes account is one element of that budget. With no alternative source of revenue on the horizon, and with a handle on both live racing and the import simulcast (the largest revenue stream to purses) declining each year, The Meadowlands purse account faces the prospect of another substantial loss in 2017. Many options, short of exercising its clear right to cancel the Miss NJ and NJ Classic races,were considered ,including a dramatic reduction in stakes races, which would have serious ramifications to the industry. At first the decision was made to try and continue with as many stakes as possible. A sponsorship call went out within the industry to support the 2017 stakes program. That call, the response to which was well received for which we are grateful, did not cure the dilemma. A few stakes were still required to be deleted to meet budget, among them the NJ Classic and Miss NJ . This is largely due, but not exclusively, to the fact that  there are so few horses eligible to the NJSS program, particularly pacers. In last year's sophomore NJSS colt pace there were seven entered in each of the two legs and six entered the final. At the same time, neither the SBOANJ nor the Sire Stake Board had any funds available. In 2016 The Meadowlands, without obligation, added  $150,000 of the $235,000 in total purses for the NJ Classic and Miss NJ to run these stakes . For the foregoing reasons, among others, that option is simply not viable in 2017 . The fact is that $150,000 has to come from somewhere, so if The Meadowlands is forced to hold these races, others must be dropped from the schedule. The current plan would be for the Meadowlands to exercise its right to cancel the two Meadowlands races for older mare pacers, the Golden Girls and Lady Liberty which each require $65,000 in added money. Any payments made to these stakes would be refunded if that were to occur.  From the Meadowlands

On this night, the house horse got the money. Opulent Yankee, co-owned by Meadowlands chairman Jeff Gural, upset a field of razor sharp upper-level conditioned trotters to headline a 13-race harness racing program at the Big M. Andy Miller and Opulent Yankee were part of an early three-pronged duel for the front. Crosbys Clam Bake, returning a week after a sick scratch and gunning for his fourth straight win, won the battle and set the early fractions of 27.1, 56.2, and 1:25.4. Opulent Yankee followed all the way from the pocket while favorite Muscle Diamond was beginning to rally from the back of the pack with John Campbell. Turning into the stretch, Jim Marohn, Jr. asked Crosbys Clam Bake while Opulent Yankee used the slingshot move from the pocket. Opulent Yankee proved strongest down the lane, kicking home in 27.3 to win in 1:53.3. "Opulent Yankee took advantage of a great two-hole trip on the muddy track," said trainer Julie Miller. "It was really satisfying to see him at his best tonight. I'm hoping we can keep him together and have another good season here at the Meadowlands with him." B Yoyo closed up the pylons to grab second with Crosbys Clam Bake backing up to third and Muscle Diamond rallying belatedly to be fourth. Opulent Yankee returned $32.40 to win and topped a $289.60 exacta and $1,209 trifecta. Yannick Gingras made his 2017 debut at the Meadowlands after an extended winter break and immediately posted a driving double, winning with Can Do in the fifth race and Sheer Flex in the seventh. Brett Miller led all drivers with three wins. 10 different drivers visited the winner's circle. Total handle was $2,744,956, up more than 4 percent over last year's corresponding night with one fewer race. Live racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. For more information, visit www.playmeadowlands.com. Justin Horowitz  

HARRISBURG PA - The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), harness racing's leading and largest membership organization for harness racing industry communicators, is pleased to announce that a group of four Jeff Gural racing entities - Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, along with Winners Bayonne OTW - are partnering with the Lexington Select Yearling Sale and Winbak Farm in sponsoring a luncheon to be held Sunday, February 26, at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, before the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park is held that evening.   The luncheon will begin at twelve noon, following the morning's annual Membership meeting at USHWA. Members of the organization taking part in the morning session will be attending, as will the sponsors of the luncheon and special guest Brian Sears, the newest Hall of Fame member. The recent electees to the Communicators Hall of Fame, Gordon Waterstone and Steven Wolf, already have "seats at the table" as former Presidents of USHWA.   Tim Bojarski, president of the Harness Writers Association, noted that "USHWA is honored to have the New Meadowlands and its off-track site, along with two major New York tracks in Tioga and Vernon, join together with one of the sport's premier auction companies, based in Kentucky, and one of the sport's elite breeding farms, headquartered in Maryland for this sponsorship effort.   "The fact that these diverse organizations, located in diverse areas, are combining in this sponsorship shows the 'win-win' attitude of these groups so necessary in this competitive entertainment market. We of USHWA are proud they have chosen to support us as we honor the best in our sport next month."   The Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park will be held as the culmination of the February 25-26 weekend when USHWA holds its annual business meetings. Further information about the Banquet and the weekend, including links for dinner tickets, Souvenir Journal advertising congratulating award-winners, and room reservations at special USHWA rates for Planet Hollywood, is available on the group's website, www.ushwa.org.   Jerry Connors  

Four veterinarians (including one veterinarian requested by Mr. Gural) have examined the outstanding stallion prospect Betting Line and have deemed him unfit to race in 2017 due to a severe injury incurred on the eve of the 2016 Breeders Crown eliminations. As such, Mr. Gural will allow the offspring of Betting Line to compete at his racetracks. Limited bookings and shares remain in this outstanding son of Bettor's Delight. Please call Hanover Shoe Farms (717) 637-8931 for more information. From Hanover Shoe Farms

TRENTON — New Jersey voters Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to expand Casino Gambling to the northern part of the state, meaning Atlantic City will retain its four-decade monopoly on gaming.  The ballot question appears on pace to fail by more than 1.5 million votes, according to projections by the Associated Press — which would make it the largest margin of defeat for any referendum the state has ever seen.  It would shatter the mark set in 1987 when a plan to build a professional baseball stadium at the Meadowlands fell by nearly 500,000 votes. With 93 precincts reporting early Wednesday morning, the casino question was failing nearly 78 percent to 22 percent. The referendum, which asked voters to amend the state constitution to allow two casinos to be built at least 72 miles north of Atlantic City, was one of the more unusual ones in New Jersey history. It sparked fierce arguments across the state, drew a record amount of spending among interest groups for and against the idea, and the group supporting the plan  — OUR TURN NJ — ended its advertising campaign more than a month before Election Day when polling looked dismal. The men who funded that group, Reebok CEO Paul Fireman and developer Jeff Gural, said in a statement Tuesday night that they were "disappointed but not surprised" by the result. "We do not view the failure to pass Question No. 1 as a rejection of gaming expansion but as a rejection of our state's current political climate and a failure to have all the facts presented to them," said Fireman and Gural, who proposed building casinos in Jersey City and the Meadowlands Racetrack, respectively. "New Jersey has to start from the beginning on gaming expansion," they added. "What the people of this state need to see is a transparent, competitive plan that outlines in full detail how gaming expansion would work." Bill Cortese, executive director of opposition group Trenton's Bad Bet, attributed the result to "a broad coalition of community leaders, unions, small businesses and residents who are convinced that North Jersey casinos would be a detriment to the entire state" In the end, Atlantic City will remain the only place in New Jersey where casinos are allowed, a status its held since voters approved gambling halls there in 1976.  Long before the question was ever put before voters, state lawmakers argued for months over details of how the plan would be formulated. Gov. Chris Christie had to step in to broker a deal between legislative leaders. Proponents said the expansion would help New Jersey attract gamblers who now skip Atlantic City because a string of gambling halls opened in neighboring states over the last 10 years. The city has seen five casinos close since 2014 amid the increase competition. Supporters said the plan would bring millions in tax revenue and thousands of jobs, and send a portion of revenue to help Atlantic City reinvent itself.  But opponents argued that it would cause even more casinos to shutter in the financially crippled seaside resort, which is facing the possibility of a state takeover to prevent bankruptcy. They also said the ballot question itself left many unanswered questions — such as how much the new casinos would pay in taxes and where exactly they'd be located. Despite the proposals for casinos in Jersey City and at the Meadlowands, the referendum didn't specify if that's where they'd be built. Trenton's Bad Bet launched an ad campaign that seized on the uncertainty, saying residents couldn't trust state leaders with the expansion. The group was funded in part by Genting New York, which operates Resorts World Casino in New York City and is a subsidiary of Malaysia-based Genting Malyasia Berhad. A number of polls showed a majority voters opposed northern casinos. And toward the end of September, Our Turn NJ suspended its ad campaign.  The more than $24 million doled out for and against the proposal was by far the most ever spent on a New Jersey referendum. But Gordon McInnes, president of liberal think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective, which opposed the question, said in a statement that New Jerseyans "responded wisely" because the proposal "was built on big promises that ordinary New Jerseyans ultimately — and thankfully — realized were empty promises."  Morris Bailey, owner of Atlantic City's Resorts casino, said Tuesday's vote was "an important step" for the city's "return to becoming a world-class resort."   The issue, however, may not disappear. Some proponents say they expect a similar proposal in future years. By Brent Johnson | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com  Reprinted with permission of the NJ.com site  

November 16, 2016, Louisville, Kentucky---The University of Louisville Equine Industry Program announced today that Jeffrey Gural, a long-time New York real estate magnate, Standardbred breeder and owner, and, more recently, harness racing track owner and operator in New Jersey and New York, has been selected at the recipient of the John W. Galbreath Award, given each year since 1990 to a person or persons who have led successful equine enterprises. "The Galbreath Award recognizes people who have built successful enterprises that serve the industry and act in a positive way to build marketing initiatives that encourage participation in the horse industry by others," said Tim Capps, the director of the Equine Industry Program. "Jeff Gural's love of horses and of the game of harness racing has driven his desire to sustain the sport and make it a better place, first for fans, then for participants. He's a believer in the sport, and has invested a lot of his money and time into making it more vibrant and more deserving of peoples' attention." Gural became part of New York's complex and challenging real estate industry as a birth-right, growing up in the home of Aaron Gural, who made the commercial real estate business in New York his passion from the late 1930's onward. Aaron Gural would build a large real estate management company which would become, arguably, the city's largest in terms of square footage under management, running more than eight million square feet of real estate. His son, Jeff, found his way into the same business with his father, but not before earning a degree in civil engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic University, a private school located in Troy, New York, known as an incubator of promising engineers but not horse racing enthusiasts or participants. "I got interested in harness racing as a young guy, going to the New York tracks, in particular Roosevelt Raceway on Long Island. We would gather a bunch of guys and go out and bet and drink beer and have a great time," says Gural, who admits he fell in love with horses along the way, without recognizing at the time that they, and the industry, would become one of his chief passions. Gural began his real estate career in 1966 when he went to work for the Morse-Diesel Construction Company, joining his father's firm in 1972. "Of the things I'm grateful for, one is being born in a real estate family and another is the things I learned from my father, one of which is that to be successful in commercial real estate you need to have a long-term perspective, be in it for the long haul. Gural would become the head of Newmark Frank in the late '70's, then lead it through both national expansions and international efforts that would result in a strategic partnership with Knight Frank, a London-based company in 2006. That would bring them into the international real estate business in a major way, and would lead to their acquisition by BGC Partners, a public company traded on NASDAQ. While at age 74, Gural still manages the buildings the company owns and operates on a daily basis, he is the practical and spiritual leader of American Racing and Entertainment LLC, which operates "racinos" at Vernon Downs and Tioga Raceway in western New York, and perhaps harness racing's most glamorous facility at the Meadowlands in northern New Jersey. "I have two Standardbred farms in New York, and a lot of horses, which I love being around and watching them," says Gural. "They have a calming effect on me!" Not so calming are the operations of the three tracks, which have been upgraded and are marketed more than their competitors. While the "Great Recession" was damaging to the horse industry in general, its impacts on the racing industry were particularly visible through sharp declines in foal crops, drops in wagering at virtually all tracks, and cuts in race days across the country. Gural stepped in as the owner of the two New York tracks---one senior manager at a New York track in their area credits Gural with making a bad situation tolerable. "He saved New York harness racing upstate without question. He was the indispensable guy, the person who made the difference." As notable were his efforts at the Meadowlands, where he decided to lease the operation from the state, then leave the old plant behind and build a new facility, smaller but more promotable and usable than the prior facility. Had he done just that he would have satisfied many concerned harness industry participants who were looking for ports in the storm. However, .................. Gural has been a strong advocate for cleaning up the sport, "making it something people can believe in again," as he puts it, and that has rubbed a number of people the wrong way. Gural has suspended trainers and owners for repeated drug use and other bad habits that he feels are not appropriate at a time when horsemen need to put on a quality show that emphasizes the best in horse care and management, and a good show, besides. "We spend real money on marketing, on telling people why this is a good game to participate in, so we need to make sure that what we tell them is fair and accurate," says Gural, whose tone can be charming (he's a major philanthropist in New York) or blunt, but rarely both. As a self-acknowledged liberal Democrat, he knows and has known leading Democratic politicians for years, but acknowledges that the current political climate is mixed for gaming efforts, having backed a visible effort to bring a casino to the Meadowlands only to see it fall in popularity to the point he and fellow supporter Paul Fireman announced in late summer that they were backing away from the idea for the moment. It is taking a longer time than he would like to get the stars aligned in his harness world, but he's been going down this road for awhile, so attempts to be philosophical: "We have to change in order to survive; having said that I continue to believe that change---positive change---is a possibility, and a necessity," says Gural. The Galbreath Award will be presented at the Speed Art Museum, adjacent to the College of Business, on Thursday evening, November 17th. Tim Capps Director, Equine Industry Program University of Louisville

East Rutherford, NJ - I would like to thank those of you who participated in our many stakes races this season at The Meadowlands. The harness racing battles between Wiggle it Jiggleit and Always B Miki have been quite thrilling with one more round coming up in next Saturday TVG Championship. In general, I thought we offered a wide array of sires stakes, small stakes and major stakes with total stakes purses for 2016 amounting to over $17.8 Million, including the Breeders Crown.   As the stakes season winds down and we face the reality that the referendum is likely to lose because of the clever approach the opposition took tying this into a vote on whether you trust the politicians in Trenton, it is clear that we have to be in this for the long haul. It is only a matter of time before we succeed in this effort but it could take as long as six years until all seven casinos open in New York.   As I previously stated, we have overpaid the purse account by approximately $6 Million and my original plan was to drastically reduce the stakes program to recover this money. After seeing the strong showing in Lexington at the sale, I had a change of heart and decided it was important to maintain the majority of our stakes. We have also agreed to host next year's Fall Final Four races for two-year olds when we open in mid-November of 2017.   We decided to reach out to the participants who benefit from our facility and our strong stakes program by trying to get sponsors for all our stakes. As Harrisburg approaches, I am pleased to say that the response from the industry has been quite positive and I am reasonably certain by the end of the stakes season next Saturday with the $1.2 million TVG finals we will have lined up sponsors or co-sponsors for all of our stakes.   I am also very pleased to report that we have received sponsorship support from the Meadowlands drivers colony, the veterinarians practicing in NJ, major breeders, owners, trainers and others who benefit from keeping our stakes program close to where it was this year, with the exception of the Breeders Crown which is going to Hoosier.   As far as our long term future, I have reached out to my major partners and we all agree we are in this for the long haul. I am in the process of reworking our debt, so no one should be worried that this likely defeat at the polls will affect the long-term survival of the Meadowlands.   I remain concerned about the horse shortage as fewer and fewer mares are being bred each year. The fact that unlike Canada we do not work together to adjust for the horse shortage and instead hurt ourselves by racing as many races as possible and as many days as possible. We should sit down and address this problem together for the good of the sport.   The other mistake is the failure of the states that do subsidize the sport to insist that a percentage of the slots money be used for marketing. The law I helped write in NY requires that the racino owners spend a minimum of 10% of their VLT revenue on marketing.   In the end people will look back at that decision as the single biggest mistake ever made by any business and the result will be devastating to our young participants. The sad part is I bet if we took a vote the horsemen would support that concept overwhelmingly but we have no Commissioner to head us in the right direction. In any case, for those of you looking to buy a yearling next week rest assured that our stakes program will be strong and we are here to stay.   Jeff Gural   Meadowlands Media Relations

New Meadowlands Racetrack owner, and chairman Jeff Gural has issued the following statement regarding the current status of the harness racing purse account at the Meadowlands:   "I'm being told that social media has been abuzz in response to some of my recent statements regarding the purse account at the Meadowlands. I want to state the facts and clear up any misconceptions about the status of that account and address the difficulties we face moving forward with no alternative revenue stream to supplement our purses.   "The Meadowlands purse account is currently overpaid by $ 5.1 million. As the revenue generated continues to fall short of purses paid, that amount is projected to grow to $5.8 or $ 5.9 million by the end of 2016. Simply stated, the money to continue to race and pay those purses is covered by me, personally. I am funding the purse account out of my pocket.   "While it is true that the twelve Breeders Crown races cost $900,000 and we try to get $10,000 sponsorships to cover $120,000 of that money, the remaining $780,000 to pay for the Breeders Crown races effectively comes out of my pocket. I also put up $20,000 as Allerage Farms and Tioga Downs/Vernon Downs each does a $10,000 sponsorship for two of the races, leaving only ten to sell to the industry.   "I also personally fund the cost of investigator Brice Cote and our out of completion testing along with sending those samples to the finest labs in the world in the hope of deterring the doping of our horses and provide a fair and level playing field for those who race at The Meadowlands.   "So long as we are solely dependent on revenue from conventional means, live, import and export handle on the races, it is critical to the future of The Meadowlands that we are able to present a bettable product to at least stop the bleeding.   "I hope this clears up any misconceptions, of course if you have any questions please let me know."   New Meadowlands COO Jason Settlemoir addressed the gravity of the situation and Gural's role in keeping The Meadowlands operating; "Without the personal funding from Jeff, it would have been virtually impossible the last three years to have any meaningful stakes program. For the record, the cost of stakes at The Meadowlands for the 2016 season will be just shy of $6 million.   "As we assumed we had a good chance of getting a casino in 2017 we wanted to help the breeders by maintaining a decent stakes program. We actually expanded the program substantially over the past few years by including Graduate Series for four year olds and the TVG Classic races in an attempt to further incentivize older horses to continue racing.   "It is clear that the recognizable names of the sport's stars generates great interest, demonstrated by the continuing rivalry between Wiggle It Jiggle It, Always be Micki and Freeky Feet Pete which has inspired a level of excitement not seen in our sport for years.   "Sadly, this may not be the case next year with several of the top horses of this season being injured or having already announced that they will not return to the race track next season. The Woodbine Entertainment Group and Hambletonian Society have both withdrawn support for the Gural rule, diluting its effectiveness.   "With the opening nights of the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale averages through the roof, we would hope that the breeders and consignors will step up and help by sponsoring our major stakes as Crawford Farms has supported the Meadowlands Pace for the past two years.   "Going forward our plan is to underpay the purses by one million dollars each year, so that Jeff can get his money back over the next six years. Obviously if a casino becomes a reality this would all change, but for now this is the plan."   Meadowlands Media Relations

Current Climate, Polling Data, Lack Of Specifics Make Campaign Untenable Roseland - Paul Fireman and Jeff Gural are today reluctantly announcing the suspension of the paid media component of the statewide OUR Turn NJ campaign. In doing so, they issued the following joint statement: "We believe deeply that gaming expansion to Northern New Jersey is a remarkable opportunity that should not be squandered. We have committed $4 billion in private investment to this state to create world class resort destinations with gaming. The benefits include 43,000 new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in recaptured revenue -- a rare opportunity for New Jersey. In addition, as New York debates allowing gaming in New York City, it is critical that we beat them to market or risk losing this opportunity permanently. "The data, however, speaks for itself. The current political climate in New Jersey and voters' concerns about the lack of details relating to the effort have proved overwhelming. Even knowing that an out-of-country gaming company that sends New Jerseyans' gaming dollars to Malaysia is funding opposition ads does not have an impact. As such, with great reluctance we have decided to suspend the paid media component of the statewide campaign." Recent internal and third-party polling data have noted how difficult the current climate is. As noted in the attached internal polling summary, "Voters have a very negative outlook on the direction of the state and have extremely low confidence that the revenue promised in the Casino Expansion Amendment will be delivered as it is promised. Just 19% of New Jersey voters believe that the state is headed in the right direction. And an even lower proportion (10%) have a high level of confidence that the state will deliver upon the promised revenue as stated in the ballot measure." The summary also notes that when asked to explain why they have low or no confidence in the revenue being delivered as promised in the amendment, 50% of respondents say it is because politicians will use the funds for their own priorities, while another 30% volunteer that it is a concern for them. The polling shows that, while there are strong arguments to be made for the benefits of gaming expansion, "Respondents react very strongly to reasons to oppose the Amendment, which play to the lack of specifics and distrust directed at state government in Trenton. For comparison, the highest testing positive message is viewed as a very strong reason to support the measure by 48% of voters. The four negative messages tested in the survey all receive anywhere between 56% to 60% of voters who say that each one is a very strong reason to oppose the measure." Polling released earlier this week by Rutgers-Eagleton reinforces this voter dissatisfaction. In that poll, only 25 percent of those surveyed believe New Jersey is headed in the right direction, while 68 percent say the state has gone off on the wrong track. The poll is available at: http://eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu/rutgers-eagleton-Christie-casinos-NJ-Booker-Menendez-Sept2016/ The current campaign to expand gaming is mirroring New Jersey's first efforts to legalize casino gaming in 1974. In that year, the New Jersey voters rejected a ballot initiative to legalize gaming due to a lack of specifics in the ballot question about where casinos would be located. Two years later, a revised ballot question passed. One of the main reasons the 1976 question passed, unlike the 1974 one, was that it was more specific in nature. The 1974 campaign indicated that casinos would most likely be in Atlantic City, but the resolution itself did not indicate a specific location. Thus, proponents of the 1974 resolution "later admitted that a large number of voters apparently rejected the proposal simply because they did not want to see casinos in their own community."[1] In 1976, the resolution clearly stated that casinos would only be legal in Atlantic City, making voters far more comfortable with the idea. Gaming Polling Summary  

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