Monmouth Park meet opens this Saturday, May 12. Read Ryan Goldberg’s feature on the new racing climate at Monmouth Park in our May issue.
In short, minus all the details (and there are plenty) in the lease agreement, New Jersey’s Thoroughbred horsemen will run the race meet this year.
Every other Thoroughbred state in the region should watch closely. If it works, the horsemen-in-charge model could be a path of the future. Think about it. The state gets to detach itself from horse racing and the horsemen get an opportunity to prove their point?–?that racing works, that it will attract customers, that it can sustain itself.
Isn’t this what every horsemen’s group wants? A chance? No (well, few) strings attached? The instructions from the state are simple: make it work. The rest is up to Dennis Drazin, Bob Kulina and the others. Nobody knows if it will work, but if it does. . .
Get in line Pennsylvania, Maryland and so on.
When legislation passed and connected slots to racing in Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and so on, an uneasy alliance came to be. Slots revenue, derived separately from racing, supports purses and other aspects of the horse sport. The agreements meant increased purses, elevated quality, greater handle, more demand, expanded state breeding markets. Track owners and the state earn revenue from slots and associated business. A small share goes to racing and breeding. Everybody wins. Or do they?
Picture this. . .
As state economies change, those slots supplements for racing come under pressure. Governors and legislators start looking at other goals for the supplements. Everyday citizens don’t understand the relationship between slots revenue and the horse industy.
Racetracks want their share; they’re the ones who invested in new facilities to accommodate new forms of gambling and new customers. The horses? Well, they cost money?–?for stable areas, dirt (or synthetic) surfaces, turf courses,
Horsemen want all those things plus breeder awards, owner awards, stallion awards, barns, stalls, horsepaths, security, dormitories for employees and everything else that makes a racetrack a racetrack. Owners, trainers, breeders?–?they want more opportunity, not less. But when slots revenue comes under pressure at the state level, that opportunity comes under pressure. And everybody on the horse side starts to wonder?–?and feel a little vulnerable.
The New Jersey plan can stop the wonder. If the horsemen make the 2012 meet work, with racing, everybody wins.
Drazin even opened discussions with Pennsylvania about cooperation on a circuit?–?a sharing of resources, costs, effort to produce racing in both states. Like all of this, it makes you think. A two-state racing circuit, controlled by horsemen, could add stability to the region.
Could. This opportunity is just that, an opportunity. New Jersey offered no guarantees to the horsemen. This deal was available for a reason. The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority wants out of the racing business for any number of reasons
New management must find a way to get people through the gate, get cash into the tote machines and get horses on the track. Officially called Elite Consulting LLC, the management company suggests big plans for the property?–?movie theaters, miniature golf courses, shopping, restaurants.
Admittedly, the devil’s in the details but?–?agree or disagree?–?you’ve got to admit it’s some concept.