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East Rutherford, NJ - Although live racing at The Meadowlands is currently on hiatus, the quest to continue to improve the best product harness racing has to offer never sleeps.   Playing a large role in that pursuit of excellence is the competitiveness of the races, which is a compilation of many and various elements. It is obvious that Standardbred racing has evolved into a speed favoring style of racing with horses being able to win from off the pace becoming a far less frequent occurrence.   Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural has long championed a more competitive style of racing and actively seeks answers to the question of how to make the track play more fairly to horses rallying from behind as they head into the stretch.   In a July meeting with the Meadowlands regular drivers, the case was made by several of them that were the track turns banked more steeply it would reduce the momentum lost while racing on the outside through the final bend. European tracks were cited for their elevated turns and it was the opinion of those drivers that a more steeply banked turn may allow the horses racing two to three wide to sustain and even gain speed as they come out of the turn and straighten up into the stretch.   Gural agreed at that meeting to bank the Meadowlands turns to the suggested angle. That task will be undertaken by track superintendent Ryan Napierala and his crew during the dark period and changes will be in place when live racing resumes.   "It's frustrating to see so many races won by horses that make the front early and hold up," said Gural. "I am always wanting the races to be more competitive and horses able to close into a win. The drivers said banking the turns would help, so I'm banking the turns. It should also make it easier on the horses as there won't be the stress on their legs as there is without much bank and maybe they won't tire as badly."   "I'm also hopeful this will remove another reason they use to give each other holes early in the races. Those "professional courtesy" tucks change the complexion of the races completely. The drivers must recognize that they are accountable to more than just themselves and the people connected to the horse; they are also responsible to the bettor to give their horse the best chance to win. Just like everybody says, without the horseplayers there is no racing and I expect them to take this seriously."   The Meadowlands kicks off the Fall Meet on October 11 with legs of the Kindergarten series followed by the TVG Fall Championships and the Freshman Fall Final Four.   by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands

Real estate mogul Jeff Gural is in the midst of a busy summer. His Meadowlands Racetrack just hosted the prestigious Meadowlands Pace on Saturday, and The Hambletonian — harness racing’s biggest day — is on tap for Aug. 3. On Friday, Gural will be on hand for a ribbon-cutting for the new FanDuel sportsbook at his Tioga Downs racino in New York State’s Finger Lakes region. But comments made by former New York Governor David Paterson on Monday at first would seem to put Gural in an awkward position. That’s because Paterson — just named as a vice president for Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Sands Corp. casino business — pitched the idea of having New York State move up its timeline to allow for quicker approval for adding a casino in New York City. But the sooner a New York City casino opens, the sooner it also will have sports betting on the menu, thereby siphoning off some gamblers who currently visit the Meadowlands to place their bets and watch the ballgames. It also would mean that Gural couldn’t get a second windfall from the Meadowlands Sports Complex — touted as a likely site in a failed 2016 referendum — opening a casino before New York put one in the region. On the other hand, Gural would make money on his Tioga Downs property, because such a change to the 2013 casino law can only happen once the four upstate New York commercial casinos are compensated. Gural told NJ Online Gambling that not only does he expect the state to accelerate the bidding process, “I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.” New York’s two-phase casino plan The six-year-old law allowed for construction of four casinos in the upper part of the state — excluding New York City and its suburbs of Long Island as well as Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties. Only after the new casinos get up to six years to grow their product could the state issue three other licenses “downstate.” Gural said that as it stands, the state can’t even put out a Request For Proposals (RFP) until December 2023. He added that with bid submissions, reviews, and finally a vote of the New York State Gaming Commission — and then construction — no Big Apple casino would be open before 2025 at the earliest. “It would be foolish of the state to wait so long,” Gural said. “My guess is it makes the mose sense to start the process next year.” Just one problem: Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose resistance to mobile sports betting foiled a bill in the legislature in Albany last month, sounded skeptical of an “early start” for downstate casinos in a interview with The Associated Press, saying, “I’m not a big fan of the gaming industry.” Gural, however, believes the sheer volume of revenue for the state will prove irresistible. A number of reports have suggested that MGM — which acquired Yonkers Raceway earlier this year — would be comfortable with a $500 million licensing fee to turn its Empire City property adjacent to the horse track from a slots parlor into a full-fledged casino. Paterson implied that same ballpark price for each of the three new licenses in his comments. “Imagine what the state could do with a billion and a half dollars,” Gural said. The heavy frontrunners for the licenses are Yonkers in Westchester County and Aqueduct, another racino that is located in Queens. Paterson suggested a casino close to LaGuardia or JFK airports in that same borough, but that presumably would raise the hackles of Aqueduct owner Genting. “You almost have to give licenses to Aqueduct and Yonkers, or you’d put them out of business,” Gural said. “The third one is complicated. You’d have to have a neighborhood that wants [a casino]— look at what happened with Amazon [in Long Island City in Queens].” A Bronx facility likely would just cannibalize much of Yonkers Raceway’s potential casino revenues, and Staten Island is relatively small and remote compare to the other boroughs. Brooklyn has numerous neighborhoods on the rise, presumably reducing the number of options there. Made in Manhattan? Of course, the biggest bang of all economically would come from a Manhattan casino. But as he has said previously, Gural is beyond just skeptical. “No politician I’ve ever spoken to thinks that would ever happen,” said the politically connected Gural, a progressive philosophically. “The hotels, the restaurants, the theaters — none of them want to compete with a casino. “And the politicians say they don’t want to make it too easy for people working in Manhattan to just go downstairs and gamble on a Friday night and then come home with no paycheck. They feel like that would be making it too easy to gamble.” Those concerns mirror Cuomo’s opposition to legalization of mobile sports betting, even though anyone with a smartphone can easily find unregulated offshore sportsbooks in a matter of seconds. Should Cuomo ever change his mind, Gural is well-covered on that front. He already has a deal in place with FanDuel to offer mobile sports betting whenever the state gets around to allowing it. Gural gets B&M sports betting in NY, too Speaking of FanDuel, the daily fantasy sports giant turned sports betting operator will run the sportsbook at Tioga Downs that is having its soft launch this week. Gural told NJ Online Gambling that this FanDuel sportsbook will be “much smaller” than the Meadowlands operation, where the Victory Sports Bar contains the main sportsbook. A smaller sportsbook can be found on the opposite side of the Meadowlands Racetrack, and the latter sounds like it will be a better comp to the Tioga Downs sportsbook. New York state law will keep anyone under 21 from even entering the sportsbook, even though — as in New Jersey — you can bet on the horse races at age 18. As for the New York standardbred horsemen, Gural said their purse supplements are not connected to the fortunes of the sportsbooks coming to the state. By John Brennan Reprinted with permission of njonlinegambling  

Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural joins Ferrall on the Bench to talk about the huge success of sports betting in NJ in year 1, the impact at Fan Duel sports book at the Meadowlands, keeping harness racing alive, and much more. Click on this link to listen  

CHESTER PA - The Muscle Mass sophomore gelding Cavill Hanover came off the stakes trail and promptly wired his field in the $16,000 trotting feature in a career best 1:55 during the Wednesday afternoon harness racing program at Harrah's Philadelphia. Trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt never showed any intention than to race the three-year-old on the lead, and Cavill Hanover took the field through fractions of :27.4, :57.4, and 1:25.4. Favored Daylon Phantom came three-wide on the final turn and loomed menacingly, but Cavill Hanover had more than enough to turn back his late charge by 1 1/2 lengths. The Wolfgang A Stable Inc. and Boris Nasstrom share ownership in the winner with the Little E LLC of Jeff Gural, who earlier in the day was announced as being on the summer ballot for election to the Hall of Fame. In a $14,500 event for fast-class pacers, favored Ideal Wheel brushed to the lead after a :26.3 quarter, and before the :55.3 half he was challenged by Santiago Style, who was parked the mile. The two continued their fight past the 1:23.4 three-quarters and into the stretch, where it was the favorite who gave way - but Santiago Style had Western Hill on his back from the second turn, and it was that Western Ideal gelding who went by the gallant if unlucky Santiago Style late to win by ¾ of a length in 1:52.3. Corey Callahan guided the winner of two straight and $298,707 lifetime for trainer Ed Gannon Jr., also co-owner with Frank Canzone. Tim Tetrick, who literally minutes before the Early Double had his place on this summer's Hall of Fame balloting announced, then went out to sweep the Double with favorites Sweet Colt Of Mine and Turn The Paige. In all Tetrick, the leading dashwinning driver at Philly, had five victories; another came with the freshman Somebeachsomewhere - Fashion Ecstasy filly, Beyond Ecstasy, a full sister to Filibuster Hanover who won her purse bow in 1:55.3.   PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

East Rutherford, NJ - As the purse subsidy bill (Senate Bill 2992) awaits the signature of Governor Murphy, The Meadowlands is finalizing live racing and stakes purse details for this season. Although it is clear in the language of the bill that the subsidy money is to be used for overnight races, a number of breeders who have previously helped to fund Meadowlands Grand Circuit races over the past few seasons vis sponsorships have declined to continue their contributions for 2019, creating a shortfall in the stakes account. As a result of this shortfall the Governor's Cup 2 year-old colt pace and Three Diamonds 2 year-old filly pace will have to be cancelled for 2019 without the sponsor contributions. "The breeders had another record breaking year at the sales and seem to think that the pressure is now off at The Meadowlands with the purse subsidy, but it's far from off," said Meadowlands CEO Jeff Gural. "I am adding a minimum of $1 million from sports betting to the $6 million subsidy for overnight purses. The language is clear that the subsidy is not for use in our Grand Circuit stakes, so nothing has changed so far as funding those. If we get sufficient sponsors for these races we can reinstate them, if not they will be cancelled for 2019." It's important to realize that while the bill passed contains language to continue the $20 million in total to the horse racing industry for five years with $6 million directed to Meadowlands purses, it also requires the track to demonstrate that the funds are in fact improving the racing industry in New Jersey. The parameters set out by legislators include impact on handle, the number of horses in races, the success of the New Jersey bred horse in their home state and increased attendance and revenue at the tracks.  The overnight purses will be increased immediately after the bill is signed. Another increase will come in late March or early April, when the competition for horses increases. by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Saturday night, the place to be for an end of the year stakes-season sendoff spectacular card of harness racing is at the showcase of the sport, the Meadowlands. Speaking of sendoffs, Big M enthusiasts will also get to say goodbye to an all-time great as Foiled Again appears on the track one last time at the mile oval before meeting and greeting his faithful fans. Horse of the Year front-runner McWicked (TVG open pace) and the still-in-the-hunt Shartin N (TVG female pace) are the marquee names in two of six stakes events on the 13-race program, which gets underway at 7:15 p.m. Defending Horse of the Year Hannelore Hanover takes on Breeders Crown champion Emoticon Hanover in the TVG female trot while 3-year-olds Tactical Landing and Six Pack duke it out for divisional honors as they face off with older foes Marion Marauder and Cruzado Dela Noche in the TVG open trot. They'll also be 2-year-olds in action in the Three Diamonds for filly pacers (featuring Breeders Crown winner Warrawee Ubeaut), the Goldsmith Maid for filly trotters, the Governor's Cup for pacing colts and geldings (with BC champ Captain Crunch) and the Valley Victory for colt and gelding trotters. Harness insiders talk Foiled Again With the Meadowlands celebrating the five-year anniversary of the opening of its new grandstand, the great pacer Foiled Again, he of 106 career wins and $7.6 million in earnings, will be on the scene. Having won the much-hyped 2013 TVG open pace, he might be wondering why he isn't in Saturday night's TVG, but he will be racing on the card, leaving from post seven in the "Auld Land Syne", which is the third race on the program. After he cools down, racing fans are encouraged to come back to the Big M's 'Backyard' and meet Foiled, and to take pictures with a horse that history is sure to recognize as one of the greatest of all-time. There is also a commemorative Foiled Again poster giveaway, available at the Players Club Desk beginning at 6 p.m. The Meadowlands caught up with some harness racing experts, and this what they had to say about Foiled Again: Yannick Gingras, driver, Foiled Again: Foiled Again's and my careers took off at the same time and I can't help but think he was a huge part in taking me to the next level as a catch driver. His longevity, toughness, will to win and forgiveness of a tough trip is what made him so special. He was not the fastest horse I've ever driven but he will for sure be the toughest, gamest horse I will ever drive. The TVG meant so much that year with Captain(treacherous) being in it and all the hype around him plus Pet Rock, Sweet Lou and others. He was the old guy against a bunch of much-younger horses trying to take his spot. But in his true self, Foiled Again refused to lose and took it to all of them. (He held off Golden Receiver by a neck in 1:49.2.) His BC win that year to me is my favorite and is the perfect race to describe Foiled as he was sooooo game that night and he fought horses coming from everywhere, but the TVG is a very close second and it's a race I'll never forget (like many other of his races). I will be forever thankful for him and what he has done for my family but also to the sport in general. He was a breath of fresh air and the 'people's horse' in a sport that need many more feel-good stories like Foiled Again's. A true champion I will miss but never forget. Bob "Hollywood" Heyden, Meadowlands TV personality, handicapper and historian: I remember the 2013 TVG Pace well, the (new grandstand) had just opened. Foiled Again, whose 47 starts at the Meadowlands are the most he has at any one track, dug in as was his style, and held off a grandiose field. (Keep in mind that Sweet Lou came back in 2014 to dominate this event by a city block and then retired.) An amazingly durable horse was Foiled Again at the top level, which is unheard of. I recall this horse made $57,000 at 2 and 3 COMBINED! He had three straight $1 million seasons - when he 7, 8 and 9-years-old - and is $1,120 in front of McWicked going into this weekend as the richest 7-year-old in the history of the game as a pacer. I loved this horse, knowing how he gave his all each and every time and it didn't seem to matter where he was or who he was in with. The modern-day Rambling Willie, he ignored the calendar and has earned $7.6 million. For the last 75 months, he has been the richest pacer in harness history. The numbers could fill up a couple more pages. What a way to kick off the TVG than with Foiled Again in 2013! John Campbell, President and CEO, The Hambletonian Society: I was in the 2013 TVG (driving Modern Legend, who finished fifth), and Foiled Again was a very difficult horse to race against because he was so tough. That was a great race. There was a lot of build up with Captaintreacherous going in. It was one of many great races Foiled went. I think what's astounding is how he raced at that top level and won major free-for-all stakes for I don't know how many years. He's going to be in the conversation with almost everybody when we talk about our all-time greats because of his longevity and the level that he raced at. Moira Fanning, Director of Publicity and COO, The Hambletonian Society: To me, Foiled Again epitomizes harness racing. He wasn't a flashy 2- or 3-year-old but he kept going out on the track and grinding out wins and money. He rose to the highest echelon in racing and stayed there far longer than expected. He wouldn't stand out in a crowd and was just another bay Standardbred - until he hit the racetrack, where his workmanlike attitude meant he raced about every two weeks, year after year, and suddenly was inching past all hoses for money earned - $4 million, $5 million, $6 million - finally coming to rest at the legal age of retirement, 14, with $7.6 million banked. He was always kind of standoffish, too, didn't seek attention and didn't even like being turned out with other horses - Foiled Again is no herd animal, but he ended up being the leader of the pack. His personality seems changed a bit as well, to where he relishes the pictures, is cool with all the hoopla and puts his head down to be petted by the fans who drive from near and far to see him. Now that's a true-blue collar hero! Jeff Gural, Chairman and CEO, The Meadowlands: He was obviously a great horse and I am glad he chose this Saturday to make an appearance. He won so many races it is hard to remember any specific one! Debbie Little, harness racing writer/handicapper, New York Post: To be at the top of his game for as many years as he was, racing against the best in the business, is just extraordinary. He was great to watch when he won as the favorite but much more fun when he won as a long shot like in the 2012 Canadian Pacing Derby beating Betterthancheddar by a neck at 14-1. I remember the Niatross tour in 1996 and it was such a great thing for the fans and I think it's amazing that the connections of Foiled Again were willing to take this on. People need heroes in this sport that don't disappear after competing for just a year or two. Thank you to Foiled Again for always giving us his best and for doing it for as long as he has. He will be missed. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations    

In November of 2013, the iconic Meadowlands Racetrack flipped locations on the track and opened the new $100 million dollar state of the art grandstand. Five years later we are celebrating this milestone day with specials throughout the entire month of November. Our fans can enjoy: $5 house wines, by the glass. Available in all dining room and bar locations throughout the grandstand $5 hot dog & soda special. Available in the FanDuel Sportsbook, Cafe & Lounge $5 Buffet Upgrades. Available for new group bookings of ten or more in the Gallery, Lounge and Skyboxes. For more information call 201-The-BigM or email catering@playmeadowlands.com Happy Hour Cocktail Specials. Available in Pink Restaurant on pitchers of Sangria and draft beer and select specialty cocktails Free Donut - Enjoy a donut, a Jeff Gural favorite, on us after the last race on Friday, November 9 & Saturday, November 10. Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment has become the premier location for live horse racing, sports betting, dining and special events.  Experience gourmet buffet dining in our Pink Restaurant which has the best views of live harness racing action. Win big every race night during our fun promotions with prizes including cash, trip giveaways and much more. Watch and bet all the sports games 7 days a week at the newly constructed FanDuel Sportsbook, home to 50+ massive HD TVs and upscale bar fare. Host your next special occasion or corporate event in a private suite, our casual Lounge, new venue area Trackside or simply hang out with some friends on our stunning terrace with city skyline views. For more information, please visit playmeadowlands.com or call (201) The-BigM. by Rachel Ryan, for the Meadowlands

East Rutherford, NJ - With the spectacular Hambletonian Day program having concluded the 2018 Meadowlands Meet of Champions, the time is here to reflect and analyze our business for the live racing season. Each year it becomes more evident that while the big event days, both racing and non-racing related, are largely successful the overall attendance and handle are continuing their downward spiral. A 2018 vs 2017 comparison reveals a nine per-cent decline in on track handle for Meadowlands live races, a six per-cent decline in the exported signal of those races and a five per-cent drop in the handle on imported signals (wagering other tracks including thoroughbreds). This drop in revenue is significant and of course adversely affects the purse account. While Hambletonian Day produced the largest crown of the season and was a tremendous betting card, the live on-track handle was down by 3%. The on-track handle for the Meadowlands Pace, one of the marquee cards of the entire harness racing season, was off by a troubling 11% year over year. The declining numbers over the entire length of the season would be even worse were they not somewhat buoyed by the "Big Event" days. The KY Derby, Preakness, Belmont (in a Triple Crown year for 2018) bring people and the largest import handle days while non-racing draws such as Food Truck Mash Up, Camels & Ostrich racing and last but not least the inaugural edition of wiener dog races/fan appreciation night draw very large crowds of new customers, some of whom do show an interest in the racing. The eight programs mentioned above represent nearly 25% of the live in the building handle over the 59 total live cards raced in 2018. At the top of the list of things that adversely affect The Meadowlands business is the shortage of horses available to race here from mid-March through June. That lack of horses results in fewer races and many short field which has a tremendous negative effect on handle. With handle being the sole revenue stream feeding the purse pool, less handle results in less money for purses which makes racing at other tracks with higher purses more attractive than The Meadowlands and that cycle continues to feed off itself. "We are desperately trying to convince the state to restore the $30 million purses subsidy which was taken away by the previous administration", said Meadowlands CEO Jeff Gural. "Even though it is a fraction of the subsidy going to the tracks we are competing with we believe we can restore The Meadowlands to its former self as the premier standardbred track in the world. Without a subsidy, considering how the horse shortage decimates our field size and handle once the PA tracks open we will almost certainly have to reduce dates and eliminate some stakes. Obviously, that is a last resort but we have no assurance we will succeed in getting the subsidy restored. We hope to know by the start of the major sales." by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands

On Sunday afternoon at Yonkers, Dewycolorintheline became harness racing's newest millionaire with an overnight win giving him a career total of $1,000,481 from 31 wins in 147 career starts.   Now 8 years of age, Dewycolorintheline was bred by Jeff Gural as Little E, LLC, came from the first crop of Hambletonian winner Deweycheatumnhowe out of his stakes winning mare Magenta Hall 2, 1:55.2m and was sold to Ray Schnittker for $110,000 with Gural remaining a partner in the Deweycolorintheline Stable.   A precocious freshman, Dewycolorintheline won his Peter Haughton Memorial elimination and was fifth in the final. A win in the Yonkers Trot highlighted a sophomore season that saw him earn over $400,000 for the year. From there it's come the hard way, grinding out more than $100,000 each season at ages 4, 5, 6 & 7 and the old boy is now halfway there again in 2018.   Allerage Farms will sell a Cantab Hall half sister to Dewycolorintheline by the name of Plum Rose in the Lexington Selected Yearling sale this October.   From Allerage Farms  

MANALAPAN, NJ -- July 16, 2018 -- Mark Ford, the President of the SBOA of NJ, has issued the following statement in response to the attached DRF article regarding the Saturday opening of Sport's Betting at the Meadowlands. "We have had ongoing dialogue with Jeff and the Meadowlands. In one of our more recent meetings, it was clearly understood, and stated by Jeff, that the horseman would participate in sport's betting revenues with details yet to be worked out. It was exciting to see the Fan Duel-Meadowlands opening, coinciding with a night of spectacular racing, and hopefully this is just the start of a new era at the Meadowlands."   DRF Full Article http://www.drf.com/news/sports-wagering-begins-meadowlands   by Courtney Stafford, for the SBOANJ  

Contacting through the SOA of NY, this morning harness racing driver Brian Sears issued the following statement pertaining to not be able to race in the Meadowlands Pace. Jeff Gural and I had several discussions earlier in the year. He made it known what he expected from me. I agreed to go to the Meadowlands in June during the break at Yonkers. After contemplating what opportunities I might have there, I went a different route. I'm pleased that we have come to an agreement that works for all parties and allows me to race at the Meadowlands and fulfill my commitments to the owners and trainers that have invested so much in our game. No further information was provided about what the agreement agreed to.        

Late last night, the Meadowlands management sent a response to www.harnessracingupdate.com pertaining to the situation with Brian Sears being barred from competing Saturday night in the Meadowlands Pace. At the end of last year (track owner) Jeff Gural and (COO) Jason Settlemoir met with all of the drivers that compete regularly at The Meadowlands, including Brian Sears. It was explained to them that if they wanted to drive at Yonkers from Jan through June don’t expect to show up in July to drive horses in our major stakes. Everyone understood and we made it clear that this rule did not apply to the Levy or Matchmaker or any other stakes races, only to overnights. Brett Miller, Yannick Gingras and Corey Callahan drove at The Meadowlands over the winter, though not every night, but they did not drive at Yonkers. Dave Miller and Brian Sears spent the winter in Florida and David began driving at the Meadowlands when he came back. Tim Tetrick took the winter off and came back after the Levy. Sears asked if he could come back after Yonkers closed for 10 days at the end of May and he did come back for that weekend’s racing. He then called Jeff and told him he had decided he did not want to be driving on the Grand Circuit and endure all the travel and inconvenience. Jeff said that was his decision and he understood; assuming this issue would not arise since most trainers of Grand Circuit horses expect their driver to travel around to Canada, Indiana, PA, Ohio and Lexington. And not just show up at the Meadowlands. Truthfully, we are surprised this became an issue since Jeff likes Brian, thinks he is a great driver and respects his desire to slow down as evidenced by his decision to take the winter off. Brian Sears is not a victim here; he advised that as a lifestyle matter he wasn’t looking for what a racing on the Grand Circuit requires and we respect that. We appreciated the commitment and rigorous schedule maintained by our drives who are Grand Circuit drivers. Up to now the only reason there is racing at the Meadowlands is because Jeff has subsidized the operating losses and overpaid the purse account by millions of dollars. With the help of many sponsors the lights have remained on and the lucrative stakes program intact. Seeing the hand writing on the wall with the dramatic decline in entries as evidenced by the fewer races, short field and lower handle has compelled Jeff along with Mike Gulotta, the SBOANJ and Dennis Drazin at Monmouth Park to work tirelessly these last few months to convince the state of the importance of horse racing in the state. Together they have requested that the state restore the $30 million-dollar purse subsidy that Gov. Christie redirected to AC advising politicians that without that money it would be impossible for The Meadowlands to continue to race when the PA tracks are open and also impossible to maintain the existing stakes schedule, which is what makes Meadowlands the leading harness track in the country, if not the world. Unfortunately, the subsidy was not included in the budget passed last week; however Jeff and the others have not given up and hope to have that added to a supplement budget which hopefully will happen in the fall. In the meantime, everyone should enjoy the next five weeks of major stakes and the 2-year-olds racing on Saturday’s Breakfast With The Babies culminating with the richest race of the year, the Hambletonian. From the management at the Meadowlands

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands is pleased to announce that two of its historic Hambletonian Day stakes are being retitled to honor a pair of men who have contributed mightily to the health and well being of horse racing in New Jersey. The race for Hambletonian eligible 3-year-old trotting colts previously called the "Townsend Ackerman" will now be known as the "Dennis Drazin". Mr. Drazin, an attorney by trade, is a longtime Thoroughbred owner and breeder who has served as President of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and the chairman of the New Jersey Racing Commission. He resigned the Commission post to become Chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, operators of Monmouth Park, a position he has held since 2012. Mr. Drazin was the driving force behind Monmouth Park's decision to fight in court to bring sports betting to New Jersey and the resulting legislation. That dream was finally realized when the US Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act and Governor Murphy signed it into law earlier this year. Mr. Drazin graciously reflected on the tribute, "I am both humbled and honored to be acknowledged for my accomplishments by Jeff Gural and the Meadowlands team by naming their prestigious race the Dennis Drazin. Jeff always promised during 6 years of litigation that if we were successful in winning the Sports Betting litigation that he would name a Grade 1 Stake in my honor. I am proud to accept this wonderful distinction from a leader in the industry and my peers." Mr. Frank Zanzuccki has served horse racing in the state of New Jersey for 40 years, having joined the New Jersey Racing Commission in 1978 then ascending the ranks until being appointed Executive Director in 1992. He retired from that position on July 1, 2018. To recognize his considerable contributions over that period, The Meadowlands' race for Hambletonian eligible 3-year-old trotting fillies previously titled the "Duenna" shall henceforth be titled the "Frank Zanzuccki".   "To be recognized by the harness racing industry in this fashion is a great honor and I am sincerely grateful to Jeff Gural and his staff at the New Meadowlands for this accolade," was Mr. Zanzuccki's response to the notice.   Both men will be present to award the stakes trophy to the winning connections on Hambletonian Day, August 4.   by Nick Salvi, for the Meadowlands  

World renown harness racing driver and inductee to the Hall of Fame, Brian Sears has been barred from racing in the elimination divisions of the $700,000 Meadowlands Pace on Saturday, July 7 at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, NJ. It had been four years since Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural first barred Sears from the track. That dispute began on Friday, June 20, 2014 when Sears told Gural that he was going to drive at Yonkers Raceway and not at the Meadowlands except for stakes events. Trainer Jimmy Takter had listed Sears to drive the three-year-old pacer, Thinkbig Dreambig, in the 6th race this Saturday, but when the draw for post positions took place, there was no driver listed for Thinkbig Dreambig, who drew post position seven. Because the Meadowlands Pace is owned by the Meadowlands Racetrack, Gural is allowed to say who can and who cannot compete in their stakes race. Sears had this to say about the barring. “Well, I heard that since it is a Meadowlands race,” Sears explained. “He (Jeff Gural) and keep me out. It’s very disheartening and I’m tired of the unnecessary drama that I have to deal with. I just hope it doesn’t pertain to other stakes races. I’m tired of the silliness.” When contacted for a comment on the Brian Sears situation, Jeff Gural’s response was very simple. “Go ask him.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Meadowlands chairman Jeff Gural will talk about what lies ahead for Garden State bettors Friday night as the Big M prepares to take action on professional and college sports in the coming weeks. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with New Jersey and ruled that sports betting is now legal across the country. Gural will be interviewed by the Meadowlands' television department's primary host Dave Brower before the Friday night program gets underway and explain how sports betting will work and when players will be able to place their first wagers. The interview will take place Friday evening at 6:45 p.m. and can be seen by anyone watching the live "Racing from the Meadowlands" pre-game show. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations    

I am sure that most of us in the harness industry read with interest Jeff Gural's HRU comments reflecting his frustration at the USTA's refusal to proceed with a survey of membership willingness to fund a new marketing initiative via a 5% withholding of purse monies.  While I sympathize with Jeff's frustration at failing to have the industry act as he wishes, I can not help but feel that Jeff, and his advisers, should reflect on their underlying business assumptions. Until Jeff and other racetrack owners accept the reality that on track attendance - except for significant and well presented "Kentucky Derby" type special event days - is a thing of the past, and that profitability has to be earned from intelligent cost cutting of all on site expenses and overheads (except on "special event" days) combined with a massive push for expansion of wagering outlets and presentation of both a more exciting product and more interesting wagering platforms, financial success will be unattainable. And if financial success for racetrack owners is unattainable, then the industry will be lost! Ultimately, governments and investors will reject business models that rely on parasitic carve outs from profitable enterprises only to support a non profitable one! For this reason more than any other, I am frightened by Jeff's determination to seek marketing dollars for what I believe is a lost and misguided objective. Significant funds are needed for figuring out how to broaden off site wagering, for analysis aimed at creating a more interesting product and betting options designed to appeal to a young, 21st. Century customer. Certainly, funds are needed for government lobbying and for efforts to fill special event days with celebrities covered by top draw video shows. Reciprocal business tie ins that can broaden potential customer awareness of harness racing - both the on site experience of special event days, and the daily streaming of betting product - are essential, and a relatively untapped resource. In summary of this point, I suggest that we need to understand what business model we will market before generating marketing dollars that will only be wasted trying to fit a round ball into a square hole. For racetracks to make money they need to remake their business to meet the demands of the marketplace rather than waste time and money trying to reshape that marketplace to resemble that of gloried days of the past! A few other comments on Jeff's frustrated perspective, prefaced by an acknowledgement that his efforts have been instrumental in keeping The Meadowlands, Tioga, and Vernon alive to this point. It is not really fair to assert that racetrack operators, like Jeff, only participate in losing racetrack investments without also benefitting from the huge casino related profits that flow from racino gambling. In most cases, the casino operations were only enabled by state governments to try to assist racing, downstream employment, and agricultural interests by giving racetrack owners time to adjust to new business realities and to restructure operations in response to a changing business environment. No government ever intended to fund endlessly a non competitive industry at the expense of other industries, investors, social causes, and societally necessary funding obligations that every day increasingly push government away from racing. Jeff must understand that the government subsidy he desires can only be gotten thru presentation to government of a believable, intelligent, supportable financial/business plan showing a road to short/medium term profitability. It is in support of developing that business plan that marketing dollars are needed, and it is the track owners who should be investing their funds in protection of their own investment! It is also disingenuous for any track owner to suggest that racetrack owners suffering operational losses on the racing side are not being, or hope to be, more than salvaged by huge windfalls in the form of their overrides on associated casinos. In Jeff's case, I can understand his frustration at mounting operational losses without certainty of eventual casino income, but that is the situation that he bought into. Sadly, the Meadowlands has squandered quite a few years by failing to reinvent itself as needed to successfully address current market realities. What may work at Tioga or Vernon, will rarely be a solution at The Meadowlands, and, quite simply, the product now being offered by The Big M is tired, stale, boring, and light years from the product that made the Big M what it was. The problem isn't in getting the message to more people, the problem is in the message itself! One last point. If Jeff gets casino rights and income, I doubt that racing has a direct, guaranteed % of participation tied directly to his income. Without that, Jeff's interests are not directly aligned with racing's, and it seems understandable that Jeff risks short term losses for long term, very large, returns. Racing's participants, however, live in the present with a cynical, but likely accurate, perception that future casino profits will be so watered down by the time they trickle down to racing that the impact may well be minor. I think that Jeff, on reflection, will realize that his frustration should not lead to punitive actions aimed at people just doing their best to make the best living they can - something that is well within their right. If Jeff decides the risk/reward of continuing with racing losses in the hope of casino windfalls no longer makes sense, he is well within his rights to exit and shut down operations. That would be a sad day for all, but harness racing, in some form, would continue to exist. Sometimes a short term disaster is the wake up call that is needed to force appropriate change long deferred! Perhaps if Jeff wants to cut back at The Big M, he might consider attempting to return the Big M to its roots by offering a compact 60-80 day meet of only stake races, late closers, and high class races June-September, 4 days a week. There would be little problem getting top drivers, sponsorships would be easier to maintain, and there would be a real quality product to market! At the end of the day, Jeff, you can't ask the USTA and industry participants to undertake operational/management obligations that are yours', especially given the casino windfall that is the driving force behind your racing investment! A windfall that will disproportionately fall to investors and operators.... Gordon Banks

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