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"We Have People That Want To Buy The Meadowlands"

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Published: November 16, 2010 3:33 pm ET

Last Comment: November 17, 2010 10:29 pm ET | 3 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

"I question the motive of the Hanson Report and I question Mr. Hanson's involvement. He's a real estate developer....as I see it - and I think many others, he's not going to pull the wool over anybody's eyes - they want to get us out of the Meadowlands then bring up a gambling casino up there and sell it off for billions of dollars."

On today's Trot Radio, Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey President Tom Luchento speaks bluntly on the recent bombshell issued by the Hanson Committee in the form of a supplemental report recommending the end of live harness racing at the Meadowlands.

"It completely blindsided me," said Luchento to Trot Radio's Norm Borg. "We were promised that it would be 100 days and it didn't turn out that way."

To Luchento, the numbers just don't make sense.

"I also don't understand the fact that you're going to save $10-12 million by running a meet, and lose approximately $200-250 million in direct and indirect taxes that this business gives. And it's a billion-dollar industry in the state of New Jersey. So how do you allow one industry to survive? I don't see the State of New Jersey having any monetary value in Atlantic City other than the taxes they get from them. Why would you not take care of your own two racetracks than you have in North and Central Jersey? That's where your investment is."

Luchento also revealed that people have expressed an interest in purchasing the Meadowlands in the event it is privatized.

"If the Governor turns around and says 'well, I'll just shut the place down, go ahead and race', they're talking about privatization. We have people that want to buy it, but we need to sit down at the table."

Episode 161 – SBOANJ President Tom Luchento
Audio Format: MP3 audio
Host: Norm Borg

A full release from the SBOANJ was issued after Trot Radio was recorded.

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HARNESS RACING CANNOT ACCEPT THE HANSON REPORT

If the Hanson Report was implemented it would be the end of horse racing in New Jersey.

“While New Jersey is trying to entice industries and jobs with expensive tax incentives, the state is in jeopardy of losing one of its most important employers – horse racing,” said Tom Luchento, president of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey.

Luchento was responding to the Recommendations on the Future of Horse Racing in New Jersey issued on Monday night in the supplemental Hanson Report.

“Suggesting that we can race 30 days at Monmouth Park is unacceptable,” Luchento said. “We raced 141 days this year – you cannot expect our drivers, trainers and breeding industry to survive on 30 days of racing. You cannot ask us to give up the Meadowlands, the premier harness track in North America.”

Racing in New Jersey is a billion-dollar industry which represents more than 15,000 jobs and more than $250,000 in taxes annually and could, with the addition of gaming at the Meadowlands, contribute $1 billion annual to the state treasury.

“We feel we are being blindsided,” said Luchento. “Jon Hanson is a real estate developer which is seems to be his only concern, developing the property on which the Meadowlands sits. The plan he issued in July did not pass muster with the legislators and the public. The people of New Jersey support racing and gaming. Instead of finding ways to cut us out, the state should be making it more attractive for us to stay. Some of our major breeding farms are already making plans to move their stallions to states that have purse money fueled by slots.”

Racing is not a money-losing venture, according to Luchento.

“It is not our fault that the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority is losing money,” he explained. “They have had to take on projects at the request of a succession of governors. These were money losers.

“We have been working with our legislators to put together a package of bills that will make it possible for racing to be self-supporting by 2013,” he added. “The Hanson Report ignores these plans and disregards the efforts of the senators and assembly members.

“We hope that Governor Chris Christie will take the time to listen to our ideas and reject the Hanson Report,” Luchento said. “Failing to do so will open up a can of worms, including legal action.”

(Photo Credit: Bergen Record)

November 17, 2010 - 10:29 pmQuestion is - will Muscle

Question is - will Muscle Hill come to Ontario or New York?

November 16, 2010 - 5:58 pmKudos to Tom Luchento! I

Kudos to Tom Luchento! I think the Meadowlands live racing is crucial to the survival of harness racing in general. Hope it'll turn out well and enough people will fight...

November 16, 2010 - 4:28 pmThe people who make these

Lynne Magee SAID...

The people who make these decisions obviously still think that racing is nothing but a hobby or pastime. They haven't realized that racing is an industry that employs many thousands of people, uses the services of thousands of other businesses and generates huge amounts in taxes. How could they possibly believe that 'giving' the horse people of New Jersey 30 days of racing would enable them to stay in business? It would be laughable if it were not so sad.


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