Faraldo: Genting won't open Monticello
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The following was written by Joseph Faraldo, an attorney representing the Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association. Faraldo is also president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New Ork, which represents horsemen racing at Yonkers.
The New York Racing Association recently announced that the number of wagers being placed on thoroughbred horse races at Belmont Park Racetrack – which are simulcast without fans in the stands – have far exceeded last year’s revenue for the same weeks. Harness races are beginning again in the same fashion at Yonkers Raceway and several upstate tracks. And the Meadowlands in New Jersey, New York’s most direct racing competitor, has already attracted hundreds of harness horses anxious to race at their resumed meet.
Yet in the midst of all of this resumed horse racing activity across the river and across New York State, the lights remain off and the gates remain locked at Monticello Raceway. Horse owners, trainers and grooms, who have continued to feed, bathe, care and exercise these horses, remain unable to jumpstart their livelihoods at this historic track. And desperately needed potential wagering income for New York State sadly remains unrealized, as does the economic stimulus racing generates.
And why? Because Genting, the huge casino conglomerate that has asserted life-or-death control over the track, has made it crystal clear that they’ve decided they have no interest in resuming racing. Despite the fact that virtually every other racing facility has heeded the Governor’s call to re-start racing after June 1st, the sad fact is that Monticello has not committed to bringing back the jobs and economic activity we need right now.
The situation is increasingly dire for the hardworking horsemen, as Genting has demonstrated they are loathe to support racing -- or the state’s important, job-creating agriculture that benefits from it -- any time soon. After seeking unprecedented control and seizure of all contractual and statutory revenue streams to the horsemen needed to maintain their horses, which the horsemen wisely rejected, Genting decreed it was their way or the highway, shut down negotiations and declared that racing would not resume until they re-opened their full casino….or maybe not even then!
The true irony in this situation is that the casino in Monticello would not even legally exist were it not for horse racing, as original legislative enacting language linked their future directly to the future of New York racing and agriculture. Other tracks across New York are now fulfilling their intended mandates and are starting to race again and generate tremendous interest, revenue and jobs for New Yorkers, and it’s time for the state’s leaders to step up and make sure that Monticello gets back into the race without unnecessary delay!