No resolution of the New Jersey 2002 dates conflict has been reached despite meetings at Monmouth Park between thoroughbred horsemen and management of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority on Thursday and Friday. The two groups have until December 20 to iron out their differences, as that's when the NJ Racing Commission convenes for its final 2001 meeting.
An impasse beyond Jan. 1 could affect Monmouth Park's ability to continue to import simulcast signals, as set down in state law.
"They're meeting, but nothing has happened as of yet," said Francis "Bud" Keegan, president of the N. J. Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. Keegan said Dennis Drazin, NJTHA's counsel, and Bruce Garland, executive vice president of the Sports Authority, were the two principals involved in negotiations. They are scheduled to meet again Monday at Monmouth Park.
Horsemen want the Sports Authority to run 141 dates next year as specified in newly-passed off-track and account wagering legislation, which would include extending the Meadowlands meet into December. The Sports Authority has proposed trimming that figure 20 dates, arguing that unless a purse supplement for 2002 is passed a 141-day stand would result in lower purses.
While two bills requesting a $11.7 million supplement for the thoroughbred industry have been introduced into the legislature, Gov.-elect Jim McGreevey has recently made headlines by ordering a "belt-tightening" of the 2002 budget, making the supplement's fate questionable.