New Jersey Commission Seeks Fine of Horsemen's Group

Although the New Jersey Racing Commission has asked a state court judge to levy a large fine against the state's Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, and for permission to take over the finances of the organization because of gross mismanagement, one of its top officers said he is confident that the complaint will be dismissed.

Dennis Drazin, legal counsel for the NJTHA, said Thursday the organization has filed a detailed account of its expenditures in court papers and that there was nothing improper in that account. It is scheduled to be reviewed Dec. 19 by State Chancery Court Judge Alexander Lehrer in Monmouth County.

"I'm confident that Judge Lehrer will review the accounting report prepared by the NJTHA and that he will approve it," Drazin said. "It will make the Racing Commission's motion moot."

The NJRC's motion is another round in a two-year battle with the NJTHA in which the Racing Commission has accused the organization's board of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees on Drazin for airline travel, hotel rooms, dinners for legislators, charitable gifts, office improvements and computers. The motion says the funds should have gone to backstretch employees.

A "forensic auditor" was hired by the Racing Commission to explore the NJTHA's finances, a move which Drazin calls a "retaliatory measure" because of a bill passed earlier this year that will give Drazin a seat on a reconfigured commission.