New Jersey's 2002 thoroughbred racing calendar remained in limbo Tuesday as the N. J. Racing Commission declined to approve a revised dates schedule submitted by the owner and operator of Monmouth Park and Meadowlands.
The panel of seven commissioners did not approve a 72-day meeting proposed for Monmouth Park, 16 days less than was first submitted to them by the N. J. Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates Monmouth and Meadowlands. A dates request was withdrawn for the Meadowlands, due to horsemen and the NJSEA not being able to come to an agreement concerning Monmouth.
The NJSEA had originally submitted 53 dates for the Meadowlands; when combined with the revised Monmouth meet of 72 dates, it would bring the 2002 total to less than 141 dates. Recently passed off-track and account wagering legislation specified that 141 dates must be run in the next three years in order for off-track and phone wagering to be conducted.
The commission gave the two parties until its Dec. 20 meeting to come to an agreement. Should the two remain at loggerheads past January 1, simulcasting into Monmouth Park, as spelled out in state law, would cease.
Bruce Garland, executive vice president of the NJSEA, said that running 141 days would jeopardize the NJSEA's ability to have successful meets, as the purse money would not be as great as in 2001. This year, Monmouth and Meadowlands both averaged over $300,000 per day, largely due to a purse supplement that was granted by the state in the spring.
"Before you add an extra 20 days to the calendar you better make sure that you've found a source of purse money," he said.
Garland said that the 141 days, as written in the legislation, could be subject to legal interpretation which would allow the NJSEA to run less than that amount.
"Our disagreement with the NJSEA is that they want us out of the Meadowlands by November 3," said Dennis Drazin, legal counsel for the N. J. Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "They want to run harness racing for nine months, but only three for thoroughbreds."
In another matter, Hal Handel, chief operating officer of Greenwood Racing Inc., which recently purchased Atlantic City Racecourse, said that the McKee City track would run 10 days in 2002, which have yet to be determined until the Commission decides on the NJSEA dates.
Drazin said that NJTHA was opposed to the Atlantic City meet unless someone was willing to pay for stabling. The Commission also expressed a desire to have Atlantic City--or perhaps Philadelphia Park, another Greenwood-owned track--provide stabling for NJ horsemen.
Standardbred dates at both Freehold and Meadowlands were approved by the Commission.