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Update: NJ Racing Bill Advanced

Published: January 28, 2019 4:40 pm ET

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On Monday, January 28, the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey announced that a critical piece of racing-support legislation was successfully passed out of committee and is now scheduled to face a vote in the full Assembly this Thursday (Jan. 31).

The New Jersey State Assembly Appropriations Committee has unanimously approved a bill that would provide a five-year appropriation of $20 million a year to benefit the New Jersey breeding program and open spaces and the New Jersey Sire Stakes and the purses at the Meadowlands Racetrack, Monmouth Park and Freehold Raceway.

The New Jersey Racing Commission would distribute the funds to the three racetracks and it would provide a much-needed boost to the Standardbred and Thoroughbred industry in New Jersey.

The first step in the bill's journey was to have the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee advance the proposed legislation to a vote in the NJ Senate, which on December 10 was unanimously approved. On December 17, the NJ Senate passed the legislation by a 40-0 vote, thus successfully completing step two.

Seeing as though the New Jersey State Assembly Appropriations Committee has now unanimously approved the bill, the complete State Assembly will vote on the bill this Thursday (Jan. 31). Should the bill pass the Assembly, it would then go to Governor Phil Murphy for approval before it can become a law.

Track operators and horsepeople in New Jersey have been anxiously awaiting the fate of the bill in order to make racing and stakes planning for 2019.

“[The Meadowlands Racetrack’s] season started January 1 and we have major stakes races people have to nominate their horses by February 15, so it’s critical we know whether [the bill is going to become law] or not. So that I know what my purses are supposed to be and how many days I’m going to race,” Meadowlands Racetrack operator Jeff Gural said recently. “Because right now we’re scheduled to run 90 days, but without [knowing the outcome of the bill] we could never race 90 days and we would not be able to have the stakes races we normally have."

According to an article by njbiz.com, lawmakers are looking to curtail the support to the state’s horse tracks through an amendment that would allow the state Legislature to review whether the subsidies are having their desired effects of boosting the horseracing industry, and whether those subsidies should continue. According to the report, the approved amendment would require the state’s three racetracks to submit annual economic activity report to the state Legislature of the governor’s office and the New Jersey Racing Commission. To read the article, click here

(With files from the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey and njbiz.com)


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