May 25, 2012
I would like to thank all the people who responded to my request for suggestions on how to improve the racing product at the Meadowlands in order to fill our races. The response was overwhelming and I still have not had a chance to read all of them but I plan to do so over the long weekend. I hope everyone understands I was not trying to be critical as I certainly understand why owners want to race where it is easier and the money is better. I was simply trying to find out what we could do that would appeal to owners and trainers. Obviously, the number one suggestion was to increase the purses which unfortunately without slots is not an option. Some of the other issues raised were quite interesting as gamblers were more than happy to encourage me to eliminate the stakes races in order to get full fields for the overnight races. Some people thought it was a mistake to build a new grandstand under the circumstances other thought it was a mistake not to allow Lou Pena and others to race because they would help fill the box. One surprise was the criticisms I got about the drivers and the fact that they often gave highly rated three to five shots questionable drives when it appeared that they were just getting the horse ready for his next race probably a stake. While I understand the issue I believe that is something that has to be eliminated if we expect people to bet.
In any event, I plan to analyze all of the suggestions over the weekend and have asked Nick Salvi, Jason Settlemoir and the race secretaries at Tioga and Vernon to help as well. I have a meeting scheduled next week to try to come up with some changes based on the suggestions that have been made. One bit of surprising positive news is that Governor Christie announced that he was going to allow the racetracks and casinos in New Jersey to offer sports betting. That would undoubtedly result in a lawsuit by the Federal Government which prohibits all but four states from allowing sports betting. My guess is the courts might rule in our favor or the government will address the matter legislatively and give the state another opportunity to opt in to sports betting if the voters in the state approve. In New Jersey the referendum on the subject passed overwhelmingly last year. Obviously sports betting at the Meadowlands would be a big attraction considering how close we are to Manhattan. In a year or two people might be begging to race at the Meadowlands which would be nice.
Once again, I want to thank everyone for taking the time to let me know their thoughts and let’s hope sports betting becomes a reality.