The following statement was sent from the Meadowlands Media Department on behalf of Jeff Gural, chairman of the New Meadowlands LLC. Gural will be honored at the U.S. Harness Writers Awards dinner on Sunday night at Dover Downs.
"I want to thank everyone who voted for me as it is indeed an honor to be recognized by the industry in winning the 2013 Railbird Recognition Horse Person of the Year award. I look forward to thanking many of you in person Sunday night when we honor the true heroes; our great horses.
"Having said that, I would like to once again ask the industry for their support as hopefully winter finally ends and we can complete the outdoor portion of the project. As you might expect, this winter has been brutal and our import business, which helps pay the bills, has been significantly under budget. Live racing has done better but obviously even there the winter weather and three cancellations, along with the Super Bowl shutdown have made for a difficult few months.
"With the Pennsylvania tracks opening next month and recognizing that our competitors often have better purses and most people think it is easier to win at the smaller tracks, it is vital that we are able to present a decent thirteen race card every Friday and Saturday with full fields. I believe our efforts to create a level playing field are working. We have a great track surface and the best drivers in the world. The big track is also easier for most horses to navigate and post position is much less important.
"In addition, I hope when you do race at the Meadowlands you will come out with friends and family and enjoy the new surroundings, including Trotters which is open to everyone with a racing license. The facility has received rave reviews and when we hosted the pre-game Super Bowl party for several thousand guests of the sponsors everyone was shocked to see such a beautiful new racing facility. Hopefully when the weather turns warmer we will once again be able to attract new and younger customers to our great sport but I need full fields and hope that we will have your support.
"Once again, thank you for the award and I hope to see many of you Sunday night.