A complaint filed by the New Jersey Racing Commission against the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association could lead Breeders' Cup to nullify an agreement it has with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to host the 2007 World Thoroughbred Championships at Monmouth Park.
The racing commission has accused the horsemen's group of fiscal mismanagement. The conflict has lingered for more than a year.
The situation has Breeders' Cup looking for alternate host sites for 2007. Breeders' Cup president D.G. Van Clief Jr. said though the organization wants the situation resolved by April 9, he's not optimistic given the fact negotiations between the two parties have broken down. A trial date has been set for Oct. 24.
An August 2004 memorandum on the deal for Monmouth to host the Cup calls for the NJSEA to help facilitate a resolution, Van Clief said.
"The NSJEA will certainly be doing everything it can to facilitate a resolution, but we haven't put the onus on its shoulders, per se," Van Clief said. "We've advised all parties we need to see a resolution in some satisfactory manner before we can make some sort of commitment."
The New Jersey THA and the NJSEA, after years of fighting, are operating under a five-year agreement for everything from racing dates to purses. The issue on the table now is between the horsemen's group and the racing commission, but commission executive director Frank Zanzuccki told the Asbury Park Press
he can't understand how it could impact whether Monmouth hosts the Cup.
The NJSEA said it hopes to have assurances to the Breeders' Cup by the April 9 deadline. Van Clief said Monmouth, which would become a first-time host site, already faces challenges, and having "warring parties" on top of that isn't a good scenario.
Van Clief said it appears the conflict won't be resolved in time, but he hopes he's wrong. He said a "short list" of alternate sites is being prepared just in case.
Belmont Park will host this year's Breeders' Cup, followed by Churchill Downs in 2006. No site has been selected for 2008. Breeders' Cup officials have held meetings with the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, which would like to be a first-time host.
"There are two or three logical alternates (for 2007)," Van Clief said. "We'll talk about it internally for a few more days."
The NJSEA had offered Meadowlands as a potential host for the first Breeders' Cup held in 1984. The NJSEA tracks rejoined the National Thoroughbred Racing Association after a mass defection of tracks earlier in this decade, and among the carrots was consideration as a Cup host site.