The Board of the Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association have developed an innovative idea to promote their organization and gain more members by offering a bonus program for their harness racing members. Alan Schwartz, President of the MHHA said that "for eight consecutive weeks starting on January 23, one race will be picked at random before the start of the daily program in the paddock. All horse finishing 1st thru 5th, providing all parties involved in the horse (owners, trainer & driver) are current members of the MHHA Monticello Harness Horseman's Association, will receive a 20% purse bonus in addition to any purse money earned" The dues to the horseman association is $30 per year, benefits include Sulky, health & life insurance, and health and welfare fund Anyone wishing to became a member should call the horseman's office at 794 4100 ext. 559, or contact Terry Finch in the paddock. By: Shawn Wiles
On Sunday July 19 the Monticello Harness Horsemens Association (MHHA) will sponsor a bar-be-cue (BBQ) at Hanofee Park in Liberty, NY to honor memory of Robert "Bo" Beauregard who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year. "Bo's wife Marybeth and his children, along with other family members, will be there to greet and thank all attendees. "Not only was Bo a good trainer and a director of our horsemen's organization but he was a great guy and will be remembered for his good nature and humor. For years he would dress-up as Santa Claus for our annual Christmas Party always to delight the children, noted Alan Schwartz, president of MHHA. "With this upcoming BBQ we are hoping to get some donations for the trust fund for his young children, John and Stephen." The BBQ will start at noon and continue until dusk this coming Sunday. For a $20.00 donation food and soft drinks will be available all day. There will be fun and games for the children and swimming is also available. Anyone interested in making a donation to the "Bo Bo Fund" is asked to send it to MHHA c/o Monticello Raceway, Raceway Road, Monticello, NY 12701. "We guarantee that 100% of all donations will go to the trust fund for his two boys," Schwartz added. For further information, or to purchase tickets to Bo's BBQ, please call MHHA at 845-791-7747 or call 845-794-4100x559. John Manzi
On Sunday, July 19th, The Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association will gather at Hanofee Park in Liberty, New York, to commemorate the recent and untimely passing of one of their own, Robert "Bo" Beauregard. "BoBo" as he was fondly known to all of the horsemen at Monticello Raceway and beyond, was a longtime member of the Board of Directors serving as his Association's Treasurer and right hand to President Alan Schwartz. The full day BBQ, from 11:00 A.M. to dusk, will include both lunch and dinner. Soft drinks are included throughout the day and beer will be on hand for $1.00 each. Cost for this happening is $20.00 per adult or $10.00 for children 2 thru 12 years of age, payable at the door. All our friends in the community are invited to attend. Proceeds from this event have been earmarked for "The Beauregard Boys", John snd Steven. John Manzi for MHHA
Monticello, N.Y.: After an impasse of over one year, the Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association is pleased to announce that it has secured a long term horsemen's agreement with the management at Monticello Raceway. Assuming that Monticello or any subsidiary of its parent company, Empire Resorts, is granted one of the potentially two casino licenses soon to be awarded in the Catskill's region, the contract ensures nine full years of harness racing at the 56 year old oval, which offers a barn area and training track at the current site. Just as important, the contract provides for monetary payments which are millions of dollars in excess of that which the horsemen will receive via the hastily drafted statutory formula. When the casino enabling bill was debated, it was hoped that the legislature would continue the renaissance its carefully crafted VLT program brought to the harness industry. Rather than allow the horsemen a share of the huge profits anticipated to be generated by the new slot machines and table games, however, the law excluded the horsemen from receiving any casino revenue, even if the casino facility was operated by its management. Worse, the legislation left all horsemen throughout the state in stagnation by capping VLT revenues at 2013 levels. The future harm wrecked upon New York's racing and breeding industries is apparent, as the casinos will surely draw revenue from the dollars wagered on racing without allowing the racing and breeding industries to participate in the casino's growth. The racing and breeding industries in this state are a 4.4 billion dollar economic engine, and are responsible for the employment of 32,000 individuals in the largely overlooked agricultural aspect of our state. The horsemen at Monticello refused to accept the fate state government handed them, and fought hard to obtain the type of relief that would not simply ensure racing, but also purses sufficient to sustain racing. In addition to live racing, simulcasting and the forced cap amount grounded on 2013 VLT revenue, the horsemen were able to secure stock in Monticello's publicly traded parent company, along with a type of stock derivative called warrants. These investment vehicles, and the Association's right to sell stock as well as exercise warrants during the term of the horsemen's agreement, ensure millions of more dollars to the purse account. Moreover, the horsemen are guaranteed a certain floor amount from stock sales, thus ensuring several millions of dollars more in purse money than current law provides. Association President Alan Schwartz, who lead his Board during every stage of the arduous negotiations, declared the new agreement a victory for Monticello horsemen, "I want to thank each and every member of the Association for the sacrifices they made during the several long months of pain, when it wasn't clear if we would live to see another day of racing." Schwartz said. " Because of the courage the Monticello horsemen displayed in overwhelmingly supporting the Board, we have achieved a much better future than Albany provided us. In addition to our legal and accounting team, special thanks go out to Peter Gerry, who volunteered his time, effort and expertise during the delicate and extremely complex negotiations involving the acquisition of the stock and warrants, so as to ensure that a genuine economic benefit was actually realized. "While we were sometimes criticized for the stances we took," Schwartz added, "the financial reward now finally achieved for our horsemen was our only goal. It would not have been necessary if legislation was more thoughtfully considered in the first instance. "Now, however, Schwartz explained, "we are optimistic that Monticello Management and its horsemen will move forward and enjoy economic growth as partners, and that racing will continue to thrive here. As president of the Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association, I am extremely proud of the role our resilient group of horsemen took to ensure the continuation of harness racing as an integral part of New York State's agriculture industry." From the Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association
(Albany, NY) - The horsemen at Monticello Raceway this morning issued a last-minute plea to the New York State Senate to pass legislation to protect their families. Legislation that passed the New York State Assembly last night (A10004B - with the support and leadership of Monticello Assembly Member Aileen Gunther and Racing Chair Gary Pretlow) is being tied up in the New York State Senate. If the legislation is not approved, the horsemen, their families and their children will lose their coverage on July 1st and future racing at the legendary harness track will be jeopardized. "Today is absolutely the last chance we have for these families and for continued racing at Monticello, and so our future is quite literally in the Senate's hands this morning," said Alan Schwartz, President of the Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association. The Monticello horsemen are engaged in a lengthy contract dispute with the track's owners and due to an antiquated state law - and since they are racing without a contract - they are only able to access 1% of their own purse funds to pay for health insurance, which is far too little to cover the policy cost. The proposed Albany legislation would simply update this outdated 1% mandate (which was enacted in 1992 when insurance costs were far less) to whatever amount was contained in the recently expired contract. This would provide enough additional funds (again, from the horsemen's own purse money) to pay for continued insurance and avoid default on July 1st. "We have dozens of members with spouses and children whose only health insurance is through the horsemen's association, and so this policy is the only way they can pay for them to go to a doctor or a hospital. This legislation does nothing more than allow us to use our own purse money to pay for our medical coverage, and it's just not right for the tracks to hold this over us. I'm just praying that none of these kids get sick if we lose this insurance," said Mr. Schwartz. He concluded, "To think that our livelihoods and our health insurance could fall through the cracks because of Senate inaction is unconscionable." From the Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association
The following letter is a response to Alan Schwartz, president of the Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association from Erin Dennin, Director of Communications, New York Gaming Association. The president of the Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association (MHHA) recently issued comments that were highly critical of the New York Gaming Association (NYGA.) There was no basis in reality for these comments. They were misinformed and unprofessional. Throughout NYGA's existence, our members have sought to work collaboratively with the horsemen and to the mutual benefit of our respective industries. There is a long record of results in this regard: From 2004 to 2013, NYGA members have generated $1.1 billion in support of the racing and breeding industry. This includes $235 million in 2013 alone, a full 12 percent of gross gaming revenues. These funds support more than 4,000 full-time equivalent racing and breeding jobs and help to sustain New York’s 2,300 breeding, training and racing facilities, in addition to 23,000 family owned farms. Just last year, NYGA members generated $101 million for the standardbred racing and breeding industry. Since 2004, our facilities generated $625 million to purses for standardbred racing. That’s two and a half times the amounts in Kentucky and Ohio combined given the most recent data available. Furthermore, NYGA members provide a venue for New York’s racing product offering more race dates than any other state in the northeast. Without the financial support of NYGA member facilities, there would be no more racing in New York State. Mr. Schwartz has tried to paint a picture that our members are trying to kill racing. He even went so far as to claim that NYGA members “engineered a law that will for all intents and purposes, freeze our industry out of existence…”. To be clear, NYGA members don’t “engineer” laws. Lawmakers do. Indeed like many others in the racing and gaming industry, NYGA does support the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act. The legislation provides for continued support of the standardbred industry, both by maintaining payments at 2013 dollar amounts and by guaranteeing any necessary future support from additional commercial casinos. These provisions will help to ensure the continuance of current payments to the standardbred industry, and more importantly will offer protection against any future losses in the face of cannibalization of Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) revenues. Three of our nine members have stated an interest in obtaining commercial casino licenses, and all three of them have planned improved tracks and grandstands to enhance their racing product. This will be a significant investment in the racing industry on their collective parts. No NYGA member has ever advocated or worked against either the standardbred or thoroughbred industries - contrary to what Mr. Schwartz and his allies may try to make you believe. In addition, Mr. Schwartz also alleges that in an effort to “hasten the end of racing”; the track operators do not market the sport. Our track operators and their horsemen have a collaborative relationship and in many instances combine their marketing efforts for the betterment of the industry. Throughout any given year, track operators will expend marketing funds to cross-market both racing and gaming. NYGA members have enjoyed a long and successful relationship with New York’s racing and breeding industry and plans to continue that partnership into the future. The nine member tracks of the New York Gaming Association are proud of their long standing record of generating funds for education, creating jobs at their facilities and in their local communities and of course supporting New York’s storied racing and breeding industry. Erin Dennin, Director of Communications, New York Gaming Association
Alan Schwartz, President of the Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association, today issued a final statement explaining the horsemen's position on New York State's recently enacted casino enabling legislation in response to statements from Monticello Casino & Raceway management regarding negotiations: "The negotiations currently taking place between the horsemen and management at Monticello Casino & Raceway are about nothing less than the very future of a racing and agriculture industry in New York State that employs more than 32,000 New Yorkers and is central to the economy of many of our towns and counties. While Monticello management is absolutely correct in stating that we don't like the casino enabling legislation passed last year, they are mistaken in suggesting that we are somehow "attempting to amend the law" through our negotiations with them. All we are doing with Monticello is seeking to secure a contract between two private entities that acknowledges the value and role of our industry and allows it to grow and succeed along with Monticello, should they be granted a full casino license. And while we have had to make some very difficult decisions during these negotiations, the stakes for the future of our game are high and demand that we do the right thing for racing and for our members. The fact is that the majority of New York's harness horsemen did not support the casino enabling legislation because while it did include a "floor" on payments to horsemen from racinos that receive full gaming licenses, it also included a hard "cap" on industry support payments at the 2013 level - regardless of how well the expanded, full casino does or how much revenue they generate or profit they make. This "cap" on racing payments will essentially serve as a hard cap on any future additional growth in racing and agriculture and will send a message to potential investors that while New York may be doing well now, it is closed for future business and has no horse breeding or racing growth investment opportunities available moving forward. Other competing racing states have recognized this basic truth - and understand that racing and breeding should grow right along with casino gaming where both on and off track casinos are sited - and so therefore have mandated additional payments from full casino gaming to racing. That is why New York horsemen are continuing to advocate in Albany for amendments to this aspect of the enabling legislation. In the meantime, and separate from these ongoing efforts in Albany, our Monticello horsemen have simply proposed - as part of a contract negotiation between two private entities - that Monticello make some level of additional payments from their own revenues/vendor's fees to racing, should they be granted a full casino gaming license. As noted above, while our purses now have a hard cap imposed on them, the Monticello Casino will have no similar cap imposed on their revenues or their profits, and so we are simply seeking a reasonable opportunity to continue to grow the agricultural/farming and racing industry and work together to succeed right along with them as we had when we partnered with the tracks to start a VLT program in NY.. In terms of context and precedent for such a "shared success" approach, it seems that Monticello management has completely forgotten about the horsemen's decision at the outset of the VLT initiative more than a decade ago to accept - as part of a negotiated contract - purse payments which were, in fact, lower than the VLT law at the time mandated. Recognizing that horsemen and management should work together and that our successes were mutually entwined, we took lower percentages than the law granted us at tracks such as Monticello, Vernon and Yonkers - and allowed them to keep more of the revenue - in order to ensure that the VLT initiative would work and that "all boats would rise together." Therefore, management's recent statements that hide behind this new casino enacting legislation - "hey, it's not us, it's the law that sets their payments" - conveniently ignores this history and the fact that the track can negotiate any additional payments to racing that they want in order to ensure continued, mutual, shared success, just like the horsemen did for them in leaner times. If they aren't interested in such shared success, and don't care about the future of agriculture and racing in New York, that's absolutely their prerogative and they can continue to espouse that position at the negotiating table. However, we will continue to stand up for what's right for horsemen, agriculture, racing and the state's larger economy and we simply hope that Monticello management will at least be honest about their so-called "good faith" negotiating position moving forward."