Gural issues statement on Meadowlands purses
October 06, 2016
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New Meadowlands Racetrack owner, and chairman Jeff Gural has issued the following statement regarding the current status of the purse account at the Meadowlands:
"I'm being told that social media has been abuzz in response to some of my recent statements regarding the purse account at the Meadowlands. I want to state the facts and clear up any misconceptions about the status of that account and address the difficulties we face moving forward with no alternative revenue stream to supplement our purses.
"The Meadowlands purse account is currently overpaid by $ 5.1 million. As the revenue generated continues to fall short of purses paid, that amount is projected to grow to $5.8 or $ 5.9 million by the end of 2016. Simply stated, the money to continue to race and pay those purses is covered by me, personally. I am funding the purse account out of my pocket.
"While it is true that the twelve Breeders Crown races cost $ 900,000 and we try to get $10,000 sponsorships to cover $120,000 of that money, the remaining $780,000 to pay for the Breeders Crown races effectively comes out of my pocket. I also put up $ 20,000 as Allerage Farms and Tioga Downs/Vernon Downs each does a $ 10,000 sponsorship for two of the races, leaving only ten to sell to the industry.
"I also personally fund the cost of investigator Brice Cote and our out of completion testing along with sending those samples to the finest labs in the world in the hope of deterring the doping of our horses and provide a fair and level playing field for those who race at The Meadowlands.
"So long as we are solely dependent on revenue from conventional means, live, import and export handle on the races, it is critical to the future of The Meadowlands that we are able to present a bettable product to at least stop the bleeding.
"I hope this clears up any misconceptions, of course if you have any questions please let me know."
New Meadowlands COO Jason Settlemoir addressed the gravity of the situation and Gural's role in keeping The Meadowlands operating; "Without the personal funding from Jeff, it would have been virtually impossible the last three years to have any meaningful stakes program. For the record, the cost of stakes at The Meadowlands for the 2016 season will be just shy of $6 million.
"As we assumed we had a good chance of getting a casino in 2017 we wanted to help the breeders by maintaining a decent stakes program. We actually expanded the program substantially over the past few years by including Graduate Series for four year olds and the TVG Classic races in an attempt to further incentivize older horses to continue racing.
"It is clear that the recognizable names of the sport's stars generates great interest, demonstrated by the continuing rivalry between Wiggle It Jiggle It, Always be Micki and Freeky Feet Pete which has inspired a level of excitement not seen in our sport for years.
"Sadly, this may not be the case next year with several of the top horses of this season being injured or having already announced that they will not return to the race track next season. The Woodbine Entertainment Group and Hambletonian Society have both withdrawn support for the Gural rule, diluting its effectiveness.
"With the opening nights of the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale averages through the roof, we would hope that the breeders and consignors will step up and help by sponsoring our major stakes as Crawford Farms has supported the Meadowlands Pace for the past two years.
"Going forward our plan is to underpay the purses by one million dollars each year, so that Jeff can get his money back over the next six years. Obviously if a casino becomes a reality this would all change, but for now this is the plan."