Meadowlands Apologizes for Disappointing Meet

In an unusual twist, management at Meadowlands in New Jersey is expressing its position concerning 2003 Thoroughbred racing dates and the state of the current meet in the track program.

New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority vice president Bruce Garland, in a letter that first appears Nov. 18, tells patrons he's sorry about the poor quality of the current meet, and reiterates the NJSEA's position concerning 2003 racing dates.

The week before, Garland told The Blood-Horse this year's Meadowlands Thoroughbred meet was "close to being a disaster" with handle declines of almost 50% on some days in October and November.

"Our business philosophy has always been based upon the foundation of offering the highest quality racing supported by superior guest services," Garland says in the letter. "The quality of this year's Thoroughbred meet was not what we would have liked to offer. I apologize.

"We are just completing the first year of the legislatively mandated 141 days of Thoroughbred racing at our facilities. As predicted, it has resulted in lower quality racing, fewer horses, fewer races, lower and lower handles, and loss of credibility and business. Clearly, it's not in anyone's long-term best interest to attempt to try to force an artificial structure onto our business.

"We are doing everything we can to try to convince the Thoroughbred horsemen and legislature that our current purse structure cannot support 141 quality Thoroughbred racing days. Hopefully, we will be successful, and next year's meets will be of higher quality."

Neither Garland nor a representative of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association was available for comment.

On Nov. 20, the New Jersey Racing Commission will have its annual meeting to discuss 2003 dates. Garland said he once again intends to follow the law and request 141 days for next year--92 for Monmouth Park, and 49 for Meadowlands.