Edited press release
The Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey has started legal action in United States District Court in Trenton, N.J., to protect the rights of the state's horsemen to approve the interstate simulcast of the Meadowlands harness racing signal.
Defendants in the lawsuit are the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates Meadowlands, and TVG, which was awarded an exclusive one-year contract to broadcast and accept wagers on NJSEA races effective Jan. 5.
The 2007 harness meet at Meadowlands began the evening of Jan. 5.
In the lawsuit, the SBOANJ alleges the NJSEA's action in awarding the contract violates the rights of horsemen under the federal Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978. That law preserves the rights of horsemen in the state where the races take place to approve or deny the acceptance of interstate wagers on races from that track. In addition, the SBOANJ noted it has similar rights under its contract with the NJSEA.
SBOANJ president Tom Luchento said the NJSEA didn't inform his group about the contract or seek its approval, while it did seek and obtain the approval of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, members of which participate in a shorter meet at Meadowlands in late summer and fall.
TVG also obtained rights to this year's Monmouth Park Thoroughbred meet.
In an affadavit, Luchento said the association has unsuccessfully on a number of occasions sought explanations from the NJSEA.
"The awarding of this exclusive contract to TVG represents a significant financial impact on the authority, the racetrack, and the horsemen," Luchento said. "It will prevent millions of our fans and bettors, who have been using other simulcast serving companies for many years, from viewing and wagering on the Meadowlands races unless those companies are able purchase the signal from TVG."
The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order to stop TVG from accepting interstate wagers on the Meadowlands harness racing signal. Luchento said it was the SBOANJ's hope there could be meetings with the NJSEA to work out a mutually acceptable solution to the problem.
U. S. District Court Judge Mary L. Cooper reserved judgment on the SBOANJ's legal action until Jan. 10 to give the NJSEA and TVG the opportunity to respond.
A hearing is set for Jan. 10.