November 01, 2007
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Standardbred owner-breeder Jeff Gural, who also owns Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs racetracks, has issued a statement apologizing for any \"false impressions\" by Vernon Downs officials that there was any chance they would race this weekend.
\"I want to apologize for the apparent screw up earlier this week,\" wrote Gural in a Nov. 1 statement to the Vernon horsemen. \"Apparently Shane (Hoehn, asistant race secretary for Vernon Downs) followed orders he received from Racing and Wagering, and created the false impression that we might race the last four days of the meet. Obviously...as soon as I heard about it I immediately called
and instructed them to make it clear that we were not going to race. Vernon
\"What I do find disturbing is for the last six months I have been telling anyone who would listen that if we did not get legislative relief we would have to close. The financial mess we are in should come as no surprise. Perhaps the only surprise is why we did not stop racing sooner or why I have not closed the backstretch to save money as well.\"
In addition, Gural re-stated his belief that Joe Faraldo, president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York and a USTA District director, has been working against his efforts to keep Vernon open.
\"The truth is for the most part you are all innocent victims in this dispute between Faraldo and I,\" wrote Gural, \"and even your Horsemen’s Association for the most part is not smart enough to understand that all Joe cares about is being able to come across as a hero for getting the track owners to agree to put something into law theoretically protecting them from the evil Jeff Gural. In reality, putting what Faraldo wants into the bill is absolutely of no value since (the New York) Racing and Wagering (Board) already protects the horsemen and the breeders by requiring us to have a horsemen’s contract as a condition to a racing license. A racing license is required to operate the VLTs, so the truth is horsemen are already protected. To be honest, on five separate occasions I reached out to Joe and offered to put an 8½% horsemen’s percentage in the bill and he refused every time. Keep in mind that Joe is sitting in his office writing letters and sending out bills and nothing that happens affects him in anyway.
\"In any case, I do not want to ramble on about my feelings towards Faraldo but I do want to apologize for the miscommunication that occurred earlier in the week. While I recognize that not being able to race your horse on Friday may have been a hardship, losing $1,000,000 per month is no fun either and believe me, owning Vernon Downs is absolutely no fun.\"