Would-Be Lessee of Big M to Meet With Tellers

A group of mutuel tellers will meet with the would-be lessee of Meadowlands April 20.

A group of mutuel tellers has agreed to meet April 20 with the would-be lessee of Meadowlands, offering some hope the New Jersey racetrack will remain open for live racing and full-card simulcasts.

Developer and New York racetrack owner Jeff Gural put together a deal to lease Meadowlands from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which has been ordered by Republican Gov. Chris Christie to get out of the horse racing business. Gural put together financing to eventually build a smaller grandstand on the property, but other issues, such as deals with unions, needed to be in place by an April 15 deadline agreed upon by Gural and Christie.

On April 14 the mutuel clerks’ union refused to vote on a proposal for wage concessions.

“Thanks to the help of some of the Meadowlands’ major customers who have been talking to the tellers for the last few days, a meeting has been arranged with a representative group of tellers for (April 20) in my attorney’s office,” Gural said in an April 19 statement. “I think that many of the tellers did not understand our offer, and hopefully by listening to their issues and clarifying some of ours we can get this process back on track.

“I personally met with many of the tellers prior to the vote, and I found most of them very supportive and willing to work with us, so I am cautiously optimistic.”

The Meadowlands situation has huge ramifications for harness racing in New Jersey and the United States, as well as simulcast markets. Since it opened in 1976, Meadowlands has been known as the leading harness track in the country.

The NJSEA is in negotiations with Morris Bailey, a Thoroughbred owner and breeder who owns Resorts Casino Atlantic City, for the lease of Monmouth Park.