New Jersey is one of the states shown to be suffering from a shortage of horse owners. That's not surprising, given the historical lack of support the state of New Jersey has given to the industry and the growing competition in surrounding states where politicians may look more kindly toward racing and breeding.
The intention of the Breeders' Cup to hold the World Thoroughbred Championships at Monmouth Park in 2007 is good news for New Jersey racing and breeding interests, but the industry's economic picture there could be far worse by then than it is today.
Hosting the event will be a source of great pride for the management and staff of the state's two racetracks, Monmouth and Meadowlands. In an interview with news editor Tom LaMarra, Bruce Garland, the senior vice president of racing for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, said he hoped to use the site selection of Monmouth Park for 2007 as a promotional tool for this year's Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I). The Haskell already is Monmouth's biggest day of the year, attracting crowds of more than 50,000. Promoting Monmouth as a future Breeders' Cup host puts the track in elite company and could help serve as a magnet for even greater attendance on Haskell day.
But there are more practical reasons the choice of Monmouth Park will help New Jersey racing. Many trainers may consider running their horses during the track's summer meeting to have them get a feel for the racing surface before the Breeders' Cup. Some horsemen who have never been to Monmouth Park may want to return in subsequent years after experiencing the track for the first time on Breeders' Cup day.
By 2007, however, it's anyone's guess as to what kind of shape Monmouth Park in particular and New Jersey racing in general will be in. Neighboring Pennsylvania likely will have slot machines at racetracks, which could more than triple purses and leapfrog them over Monmouth Park, which currently offers about $325,000 a day. Maryland, where Gov. Bob Ehrlich has mounted a new push for slot machines, also will be a much stronger competitor for the Garden State if and when machines are installed there.
New Jersey racing is currently getting subsidies from the Atlantic City casinos, but that revenue stream will not keep the tracks competitive with slots-enriched neighbors. It's clear, given the landscape, that the only way Monmouth Park and Meadowlands will remain competitive as top-tier racetracks is for the legislature to approve slot machines for them as Delaware, New York, and West Virginia already have done, and Pennsylvania and Maryland are likely to do. Improving the economics of the game would not only attract more people to Thoroughbred ownership in New Jersey, it would strengthen Monmouth Park's chances to be a repeat Breeders' Cup host. ON THE MOVE
Sixteen years ago when I first moved to Lexington, my daily commute to another publication's office took me past a large parcel of land that had been operated as a horse farm by Hal Price Headley from 1910 until 1962 and later used for cattle. A couple of years later, in 1990, the former Beaumont Farm was rezoned for long-range development by Fayette County's Urban County Council. It wasn't long before commercial development appeared on the landscape, with housing following shortly thereafter.
Over the last several years, Blood-Horse Publications has been looking for a new home to replace the building in the Gardenside section of Lexington that its staff had occupied for nearly 40 years. When a building that fit our needs came on the market late last year, the search was over. That building happens to be located on the old Beaumont Farm, as our new address suggests: 3101 Beaumont Centre Circle, Lexington, Ky. 40513-1709.