New Jersey Horsemen Reach Deal on Casino Purse Subsidy

Horsemen in New Jersey will be running for bigger purses beginning at Monmouth Park May 29 under a subsidy deal reached between Atlantic City casinos and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

Under the plan, the New Jersey horse industry will receive $86 million from casinos in exchange for not pursuing slot machines at racetracks. Under an escalating scale, purses at Monmouth Park will average $320,000 a day for the next three years and will be $360,000 in 2008. At The Meadowlands, daily purse distribution will be between $260,000-$270,000 for the first three years and will reach $300,000 in the fourth year.

Dennis Drazin, who serves as counsel for the NJTHA, said the deal will stabilize the horse industry in New Jersey. He also said Gov. James McGreevey was a key supported that helped get the deal done.

"Gov. McGreevey worked very hard on behalf of the horse industry and through those effort we were able to reach a deal with the casino industry," Drazin said. "We're thrilled the governor took those steps on our behalf."

In addition to the purse enhancements, the deal also guarantees 120 live Thoroughbred dates in New Jersey for the next four years. From 2008-2016, the deal guarantees 141 live race dates.

Drazin said this deal does not rule out slots coming to the state's racetracks sometime in the future.

"The fact we made the deal with casinos does not stop any of the parties from continuing to talk about slot machines," Drazin said. "It's very possible casinos could come in and make deal with the (New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which controls the tracks) and get them rolling. All this does is solidify purses while we continue to work on slots."

The state's breeders' funds will also benefit from the deal. Thoroughbred and Standardbred breeders will split evenly $1.5 million this year, $1.7 million in 2005, and $2 million in 2006.