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New Jersey horsemen expressing frustration

February 19, 2008

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While New Jersey horsemen receive assurances from Trenton that there will be a purse supplement this year, the frustration levels are rising as weeks go by and no agreement has been finalized.
“There are issues that are being discussed that are out of our hands,” said Tom Luchento, president of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey. “These have to do with the dealings between the Governor’s office and the casinos. 
“It’s not for a lack of effort on our part that we do not have an agreement in hand,” Luchento noted. “Time after time we have received assurances that we will get the purse supplement, we share the frustrations of our membership that this is not a done deal as yet. Governor Corzine assured us in October that he would protect the future of racing in New Jersey. Now six months later, we question whether his administration will deliver on this promise.
“We are asking our horsemen at Freehold to be patient and give this process a chance to play out,” he added. “It is not easy to ask them to do this as they’ve already seen their purses slashed twice this year–a total of 27 percent. Additionally, Freehold has not carded its usual open class events.”
The SBOANJ represents the owners, trainers, drivers, caretakers and breeders of New Jersey who race their horses at both Freehold Raceway and the Meadowlands. While the Meadowlands has agreed to maintain its purse structure at the same levels, the Freehold purses have dropped from an average of $53,000 a day to an average of $34,600 a day.
“At this point, we think any refusal to race at Freehold would be counterproductive but if there is no agreement or the negotiations stall, we may have to reconsider that position,” said Luchento. 
From 2004 to 2007, New Jersey horsemen received an $86 million supplement spread out over four years. Funding came out of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and a consortium of Atlantic City casinos who, in exchange, received some tax relief from Trenton. (SBOANJ)
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