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Together with the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, The Meadowlands will be implementing a bonus program for several of its overnight races for New Jersey sired horses. The program will begin on Friday, December 5, 2014. Beginning with that date, races meeting the condition of non-winners of one (1), two (2), three (3) or four (4) pari-mutuel races will carry a sixty percent (60%) bonus to the purse for New Jersey Sired horses. The bonus program encompasses both sexes of horse as well as gait. The purse structure will be as follows: Non-Winners of 1: $10,000 (Plus $6,000 for NJ-Sired horses) Non-Winners of 2: $12,500 (Plus $7,500 for NJ-Sired horses) Non-Winners of 3: $15,000 (Plus $9,000 for NJ-Sired horses) Non-Winners of 4: $17,500 (Plus $10,500 for NJ-Sired horses) Therefore, a New Jersey Sired horse will race for $16,000 in a non-winners of one (1) event, $20,000 in a non-winners of two (2) event, $24,000 in a non-winners of three (3) event and $28,000 in a non-winners of four event. "Competing with the slot-enriched programs in surrounding states is not an easy thing for New Jersey racing as we all know," said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. "But as tough as it is on our racing product, it is devastating to our breeding industry. This program has been to designed to help support the breeders in the state of New Jersey and help encourage horsemen to support New Jersey sired yearlings that go through the sales ring." Tommy Luchento, President of the SBOANJ agreed with Mr. Gural's sentiments. "I am very proud to announce this program together with The Meadowlands. We continue to work together in helping both the on-track product and the breeders in this state. We have a lot of work to do, but this is a positive step for the New Jersey program and I expect more good things in the future. I want to thank Jeff Gural and his team for working with us in formulating this plan." Any horsemen with questions regarding the program can contact Meadowlands Director of Racing Operations Darin Zoccali, or the SBOANJ. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands  

“We (SBOANJ) had spoken with Jeff Gural and he was pretty adamant about banning Brian Sears,” said Tom Luchento, president of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey (SBOANJ). “He has his reasons. Whether they were valid reasons or not, I can’t say because he did not share all the reason with us.” Last week management at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, NJ contacted Brian Sears and informed him he could not drive in any harness racing at the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs. All tracks that are owned by businessman/horseman Jeff Gural. “We are not happy with it,” Luchento said pertaining to the SBOANJ. “This is something that is Jeff’s call. We talked that unless he came up with something substantial that this was not an easy pill to swallow, just telling the guy to take a walk. By the same token I think that Jeff needs to sit down with him (Sears) and that they have to iron this out.” Sears, 46, is one of the leading drivers in the harness racing industry. According to the United States Trotting Association, Sears has 8,832 career victories and $153,829.234 in purse earnings by the horses he had driven. He hails from a family deep in harness racing tradition. His late grandfather, Gene, is a member of the Hall of Fame and his father, Jay, is a prominent owner, breeder, trainer and driver. “I am pretty confident that they will work this out and that is going to happen,” Luchento said. “I am disappointed that something like this has had to happen. Do I think this will get ironed out? Absolutely yes. I think Jeff and Brian will sit down, work their differences out and will come together and end this. “We are not taking sides with anyone on this issue,” Luchento said. “I am not siding with Jeff Gural and I am not against Brian Sears. It is our job at the SBOANJ to protect our horsemen but if Jeff Gural has something and he brings it up and there is a legitimate beef that they have to work out depending on what that is. ‘At the very end,” Luchento said, “I know they will work it out.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

MANALAPAN, NJ - June 6, 2014 - The deadline for applications for the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey and the Backstretch Community Assistance Program college scholarships for the sons and daughters of New Jersey horsemen is June 16, 2014. Scholarships, which can range from $2,500 to $5,000, are for qualified students who plan to attend a two or four-year college or university, who are the son or daughter of a full-time participant in New Jersey harness racing or are themselves a full-time participant in New Jersey harness racing. Only one candidate per household will be considered, and there is a lifetime cap of $10,000 per individual. Applications and requirements are available on the SBOANJ website - www.sboanj.com -- or at the Meadowlands [see Horsemen's Rep Linda Goss], the Backstretch Community Assistance Program offices [see Dr. Chris Samaha] and the SBOANJ office at 64 Business Route 33, Manalapan, NJ 07726. by Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ      

MANALAPAN, NJ - May 9, 2014 - The Meadowlands Racetrack, the New Jersey Sire Stakes program and the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey are in negotiations to provide New Jersey-sired horses with more racing opportunities, featuring enhanced purse money. "We are committed to supporting New Jersey's breeding program and reward those who race New Jersey-sired horses," said SBOANJ President Tom Luchento. "We aren't quite ready to release the details but this should improve the earnings potential of New Jersey-sired horses. These three organizations are committed to the future of New Jersey-sired racing." by Carol Hodes, for SBOANJ      

MANALAPAN, NJ - May 8, 2014 - The Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey and the Backstretch Community Assistance Program will once again offer college scholarships in 2014 to the sons and daughters of New Jersey horsemen. The deadline for applications is June 15, 2014. Scholarships, which can range from $2,500 to $5,000, are for qualified students who plan to attend a two or four-year college or university, who are the son or daughter of a full-time participant in New Jersey harness racing or are themselves a full-time participant in New Jersey harness racing. Only one candidate per household will be considered, and there is a lifetime cap of $10,000 per individual. The applicant must have taken either the SAT or ACT test, be accepted to or attend a college or university and fill out the SBOANJ's Scholarship Award application. Financial need, student involvement in community work, extracurricular academic activities, evidence of strong character and leadership and interest in the equine industry will all be considered. Applications and requirements are available on the SBOANJ website - www.sboanj.com -- or at Freehold and the Meadowlands [see Horsemen's Rep Linda Goss], the Backstretch Community Assistance Program offices at the Meadowlands and Showplace Farms [see Dr. Chris Samaha] and the SBOANJ office at 64 Business Route 33, Manalapan, NJ 07726. by Carol Hodes, for the SBOANJ      

(TRENTON) - New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher today announced Governor Chris Christie has appointed Michael Gulotta, Dr. Richard S. Meirs and Mark Mullen to the New Jersey Sire Stakes Board of Trustees. "All three new members of the Sire Stakes Board currently serve as directors of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey and bring extensive knowledge of the harness racing industry to the Board," said Secretary Fisher. Michael Gulotta is the chief executive officer of Deo Volente Farms, LLC of Flemington, which was named "Farm of the Future" by the United States Trotting Association in 2009. Among the world champions he has raced are Worldly Beauty, Lis Mara, Holiday Road, and Crys Dream. Dr. Meirs has served as the general manager of Walnridge Farm, Inc. with operations in Cream Ridge and Elizabethtown, PA. He is also a principal in the Walnridge Equine Clinic veterinary practice and has served as a past president of the New Jersey Association of Equine Practitioners. Mark Mullen is the President and co-owner of Fair Winds Farm, Inc. of Cream Ridge. He was named co-breeder of the year in 2009 by the United States Trotting Association and was the breeder of 2011 Hambletonian winner Broad Bahn. Re-appointed to the board of Trustees by Governor Christie was Thomas A. D'Altrui of Hillsborough. D'Altrui has served on the Sire Stakes Board of Trustees since 2001. He is the owner/operator of D.I. Farms and was named North American Breeder of the Year in 1988. He previously served as first Vice President of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey. D'Altrui will serve as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. The Sire Stakes Board is responsible for the administration of the Department of Agriculture's stakes racing program for two- and three-year-old pacers and trotters sired by registered stallions at New Jersey breeding farms as well as the Standardbred Development Fund, which provides a stakes program for the progeny of mares who spend a minimum of 150 days in New Jersey and foal in New Jersey. For more information on the Sire Stakes Program, visit www.jerseyequine.nj.gov/sirestakes.htm. From the NJ Department of Agriculture

It was posted today on the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey website that a letter from Chris McErlean of Freehold Raceway  to Tom Luchento, president of the SBOANJ received recently stated as follows: I have been informed by our legal counsel involved with our insurance company that any claim submitted for payment for damages of equipment involved in the January 10 accident at Freehold has been approved and payments are being made. There may be further claims out there but they have not been submitted and there have been claims on other items apart from racing equipment that are being handled separately. This letter is in reference to the starting gate accident that took out seven horses and drivers at the start of the fifth race on January 10, 2014 as the starting gate slid out of control and down along the rail into the field of horses. From the SBOANJ

Harness Horsemen International continued their Annual Meetings on March 4 at the Embassy Suites Deerfield Beach Resort & Spa, Deerfield Beach, Florida.   Horsemen’s representatives from ten associations, including Cloverleaf SOA, Delaware SOA, Illinois HHA, Ohio HHA, Maine HHA, Meadows HHA, Western New England HHA, Pennsylvania HHA, SBOA of New Jersey and Kentucky HHA were in attendance.   T.C. Lane of the USTA offered the audience a first look at the new online entry system for horsemen, to be launched in the near future. Any USTA member will be able to access this user-friendly system, Lane stressed, which allows trainers to enter their horses at various racetracks via the Internet, free of charge.     Association reports continued, followed by HHI committee meetings. The Insurance Committee discussed current HHI coverage, including liability, fire, and disaster, and pending cases which could affect the horse industry, as well as possible changes in policies.   Instant racing in Kentucky and sports wagering in New Jersey were topics cited by the Legal Committee. The HHI Scholarship Foundation Committee passed a motion to use a universal scholarship application for all horsemen’s association scholarships, in order to simplify the process for applicants. A proposal by the HHI Convention Committee, to return to this same meeting place in 2015, will be voted on in the Wednesday General Session.   The March 5 meetings will begin with elections and a panel discussion entitled “I Can’t Believe This is Happening,” which will examine critical issues facing Standardbred horsemen, followed by the HHI Awards Luncheon.   The HHI Annual Meetings will conclude with a farewell breakfast on Thursday, March 6.   HHI is comprised of horsemen’s associations from the United States and Canada who collectively represents the agriculture based industry of harness racing in North America. HHI’s governing body consists of representatives from its member associations.   by Kim Rinker, for HHI

Pompano Beach, FL --- The staff at Harnesslink is proud to congratulate our director of North American Operations, Steve Wolf, who was recently elected into the Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame. He will be inducted into the Communicators Corner at the 23rd annual Hall of Fame awards dinner on Friday, March 7, 2014 at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, Deerfield Beach. The event is held by the Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association. Wolf, a resident of Coral Springs with his wife, Stephanie and sons Philip and Ryan, has been employed with Harnesslink for the past ten months. He has been a contributing writer to Harnesslink since the website first started in 2003. The Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame recognizes special individuals who have been outstanding leaders within the industry for more than ten years and who have contributed to the betterment of the Standardbred Industry. Wolf most certainly fills those categories to the brim. He first came to Florida as the Director of Marketing for the Isle Pompano Park and over the years rose to the rank of Senior Director of Racing Operations. He ran the many great promotions at the track including driver tournaments, unique claiming series races, special family nights and most of all he is responsible for finding and bringing to the United States from Australia, the great Vincent Silvestro and his amazing horse, Hand Me Silver. Silvestro performed the world’s only horse racing fireworks stunt show called Hot To Trot and he appeared for eight straight years at Pompano Park, amazing crowds as he stood on the shafts of his race bike, held the reins in his teeth and set off more than 2,000 rounds of fireworks all while Hand Me Silver raced around the dark track. Wolf has always been involved in community service in the Pompano Beach area since he first arrived. He served on the board of directors of the Greater Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce for ten years and was Chairman of the Board from 2009-2010. He is a co-founder and has been the president of Pompano Has Heart, a disaster relief program in the city and was also a trustee of the Harness Horse Youth Foundation for 22 years. Prior to coming to Florida, Wolf was the director of marketing and publicity at Freehold Raceway and assistant director of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey. Also being inducted into the Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame are two longtime driver/trainers Lucien Fontaine and Mark O’Mara. There are also three horses being inducted. They are I’d Like To Win, Six Of Diamonds and Tweedle Dum. Tickets are $75 per person for the full course dinner that begins at 6:00 pm with a one-hour open bar with appetizers. Tables of ten are available. For more information, to purchase tickets, or place a congratulatory ad in the program book, please contact Rosie Huff at the Florida Standardbred Breeders Office at 954-972-5400.

Due to the cancellation of racing on Thursday, January 2nd due to a winter storm, The Meadowlands and the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey have reached an agreement to add live racing on Thursday March 13th, to make up the lost day from earlier in the meet. "We are glad to be able to make up this lost day for our horsemen," said SBOA President, Tom Luchento. "It's great to have the kind of relationship with The Meadowlands where we can approach them and easily work together in the best interest of our horsemen." "The Meadowlands wants to give the horsemen of New Jersey every opportunity to get their horses raced," said Director of Racing Operations, Darin Zoccali. "Obviously, this has not been an ideal winter from a weather standpoint and when our racing is impacted by winter weather, the SBOA is very easy to work with in developing a contingency plan." The updated racing calendar, which includes the added date of Thursday March 13th can be found at http://meadowlandsracetrack.com/calendardates.aspx Following the Super Bowl break, racing resumes at The Meadowlands on Thursday February 6th, featuring a pick 5 carryover of $18,083.40. The Meadowlands and Trackmaster have worked out an agreement for past performances for that pick 5 sequence to be posted, free of charge, on The Meadowlands website at http://meadowlandsracetrack.com/content.aspx?id=3357. by Darin Zoccali for the Meadowlands    

Trenton, NJ --- Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth, that allows permitholders (racetrack operators) to enter into agreements with their respective horsemen associations, such as the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association for harness racing and with the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, was signed into law by Gov. Christie on Tuesday (Jan. 21). Under the new law (A-3489), the runners will jointly decide how to utilize a portion of their racing purses in order to promote the racing industry. The approval concurs with Gov. Christie’s recommendations and affects racing at both the New Meadowlands and Monmouth Park. The New Jersey Racing Commission is required to approve all the contractual agreements between the parties. “Racetrack permitholders, the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association and the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association have a shared interest in ensuring the success of horse racing in New Jersey,” said Dancer, who has sponsored many pieces of bipartisan legislation designed to help make horse racing sustainable in the state. “This bill provides an opportunity to preserve and enhance the sport of horse racing and will lead to greater fan interest and wagering. The contractual requirement that stipulates all sides must agree as to the means of how this goal will be achieved, along with the oversight by the racing commission, are important components of the bill.” The amount of the racing purses, which is specified by statute, would not be affected. Also, any agreement would not be permitted to reduce the statutorily dedicated funds for programs designed to aid the horsemen and the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association or for the administration of a health benefits program for the horsemen. “We are in a new era of horse racing in New Jersey. We are fortunate to have creative and talented private sector business people who love racing and believe it is viable in our state,” continued Dancer. “Giving them the flexibility to combine their skills in order to promote this sport is a sound strategy.” Dancer’s legislation is also sponsored by Assemblymen John Burzichelli and Ralph Caputo. The identical Senate bill, S-2540, received unanimous approval in June. From the New Jersey Assembly Republican Press Office

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands and Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey jointly announce that the current preference system when taking entries for overnight races at the Meadowlands will be postponed until November 2014. The SBOA approached Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment management due to a series of complaints horsemen had regarding the preference system used for taking entries. Working together, both the Meadowlands and the SBOA have determined it is best to postpone the system until November 2014. "We want to reward the people that support the Meadowlands when the slot tracks open in Pennsylvania in March," said SBOA President Tom Luchento, "but we don't want to hurt the smaller stables in the process. In addition, it seemed there was a great deal of confusion and a lack of understanding in what we were trying to do. We need to regroup and give the horsemen advanced notice on what is going to be happening. But, this postponement is just that, a postponement. We will be utilizing a preference system come November 2014 at the Meadowlands." Meadowlands management is in full agreement. "The last thing we want to do is hurt the smaller stable with this system," said Jeff Gural, Chairman of Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment. "It appears that it what has happened in some instances and that was the farthest thing from our intention." In addition, in order to help alleviate some of the strain on the entry box, the Meadowlands intends to draw for 13 races on Thursday night, as long as the entry box can support that number of races. "We have heard from the horsemen loud and clear, said Gural, "and in addition to postponing this system, factoring in that Yonkers is not racing this week, we will card 13 races on Thursday, so some of the horsemen struggling to get their horses in can get raced." The SBOA and the Meadowlands will be keeping track of trainers entry statistics for overnight races at the Meadowlands compared to every other track beginning in March and running through Hambletonian Day. It it those statistics that will be used to determine who receives preference in racing at the Meadowlands beginning in November 2014. To avoid this situation next year, both the SBOA and the Meadowlands will be giving advanced notice on their plan, including details on how a system will be implemented. To be clear, how often you race your horses at the Meadowlands from March 2014 through August 2014 will determine your order of preference for entering horses at the Meadowlands beginning in November 2014. In addition, there will be no advantage given for having a larger stable. Everyone will be on a level playing field. Details for how Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment will keep track of these figures and how that information will be implemented into a preference system in November will be made clear prior to March 2014. by Rachel Ryan for the Meadowlands  

The 18th Annual SBOANJ Golf Outing raised funds to benefit harness racing horsemen and produced a fun day on July 8, 2013 at Gambler Ridge Golf Course in Cream Ridge, NJ.

Western Vintage, unbeaten in his first two starts, headlines his New Jersey Sire Stakes Final, one of a quartet of $150,000 finals for harness racing two-year-olds on Saturday, July 13, 2013 at the Meadowlands.

A bill awaiting the governor's signature would introduce the Standardbred Development Fund, a program to encourage boarding and foaling in the state of New Jersey.

There will be a lot of Muscle, a handful of Chocolatiers and a couple of Revenues on display when New Jersey Sire Stakes harness racing for two-year-old trotters is spotlighted on Friday night, June 28, 2013 at the Meadowlands.

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