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President's Awards For 'Big M' Efforts

Published: October 27, 2011 11:28 am ET

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Jeff Gural, Tom Luchento and Leo McNamara --- the three lead forces fighting for the longterm surviving and thriving of the sport’s premier track, the Meadowlands --- have been personally selected by U.S. Harness Writers Association’s president Jason Settlemoir for 'President’s Awards,' to be given at the Dan Patch Awards Banquet on Sunday, February 12 at the DoubleTree Orlando (FL) by Hilton Hotel at SeaWorld.

Gural, a New York real estate developer and longtime standardbred breeder/owner, was already the owner of two New York tracks, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, when he became the point man in gathering the necessary capital to acquire and revamp the Meadowlands. Luchento, a former trainer/driver, is the president of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners of New Jersey, and McNamara, who has run many successful breeding operations, is SBOANJ’s executive administrator. The horsemen’s group is working with Gural and his partners to bring about the vision of a new and reinvigorated Meadowlands, including the construction of a new grandstand.

Settlemoir, also vice president of racing and simulcasting at Tioga and Vernon, said, “I don’t know of three individuals more worthy of this small token of appreciation than Jeffrey Gural, Tommy Luchento, and Leo McNamara, for their work in saving our ‘flagship’ track, the Meadowlands, which was on the brink of closure. All three have played key roles in moving the state-operated racetrack into private hands.

“Gural contacted Luchento about the future of the Meadowlands and was told that the Governor’s Office was preparing a statement saying that the Meadowlands would be closing,” Settlemoir explained. “Jeff, Tom, and Leo quickly arranged a meeting with Governor (Christie), and soon following the meeting Jeff signed a letter of intent with the Governor to lease the Meadowlands from the state.

“Jeff, Tommy, and Leo have since worked countless hours, and endured many sleepless nights, as they continue to try to figure out the puzzle that has been laid before them,” Settlemoir continued. “What happens next is anyone’s guess, but there is no doubt that these gentlemen went far beyond the call of duty in giving this much hope to continued racing at the Meadowlands, and for that and many more reasons, these President’s Awards go to Jeff, Tommy, and Leo, along with great thanks for what you have done – and what you are going to continue to do.”


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