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Pols Lash Out Over Hanson Recommendation

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Published: November 17, 2010 10:28 am ET

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In light of the supplemental report by the Hanson Commission, which calls for live harness racing to cease at the Meadowlands Racetrack, relocate to Monmouth Park and have just 30 dates of live racing, politicians in the state of New Jersey have lashed out at the recommendation.

The New Jersey Senate Republicans have issued a release in regard to the news. It appears below in its entirety.


MONMOUTH COUNTY LEGISLATORS CALL FOR HORSE RACING TO BE GIVEN A FAIR CHANCE TO REACH SUSTAINABILITY

The Legislators from Monmouth County would like to see further discussions take place before the latest recommendations on horseracing from the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Gaming, Sports and Entertainment are implemented.

Among the recommendations are calls for all racing that currently takes place at the Meadowlands Racetrack to be moved to Monmouth Park, the sale of Monmouth Park to a private entity, and drastically decreasing the number of live racing days for both standardbred and thoroughbred tracks, below the current legal minimum.

The decrease of racing days, especially in the face of a lack of additional purse dollars, is a source of contention with this proposal, because racetracks earn their revenue through their live racing days. By cutting the number of days by two-thirds for both breeds, it limits the opportunity for the tracks to earn money.

“There is no disagreement that horseracing in New Jersey is in need of serious change at this time,” said Senator Jennifer Beck (District 12), “but what Mr. Hanson has recommended jeopardizes the future of the entire sport in the state. There is no feasible way that all of the racing that is currently taking place at the Meadowlands can be moved to Monmouth Park by 2011. The infrastructure does not exist at Monmouth Park to house harness racing, since it is, and always has been a thoroughbred park. Also, New Jersey State Law regulates the number of racing days at each of the racetracks, and any action to reduce the number of racing days will have to be done through legislative action. As far as I am concerned, after speaking with a number of experts in this area, the reduction called for in the report will severely damage the viability of maintaining any racing in the Garden State.”

“Horseracing in New Jersey was a sustainable, and even profitable, industry, right up until 2007 when competition began appearing on our borders,” said Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (District 12). “It can be sustainable again, if given the opportunity. The recommendations from Mr. Hanson’s panel do not afford this opportunity. By forcing a sudden and drastic change, instead of one that takes into consideration, not only the logistics of preparing a thoroughbred track for an entirely different kind of racing, but the implications a change of this sort will have on the rest of the equine and equine-related industries in New Jersey, the report is inherently flawed. Further discussion and negotiations are needed.”

“The report is correct in saying that ‘the horseracing industry is at a crossroads, and didn’t arrive there overnight,’” said Assemblyman O’Scanlon (District 12). “Likewise, the solution to the challenges facing the racing industry can also not be expected to take place overnight. Expecting the significant changes that the Commission’s report calls for to take place in 2011 is unrealistic. The problems facing the horseracing industry are going to take a more measured approach to resolve.”

The Commission states its purpose as “to propose an economically sustainable model for the horseracing industry, without state subsidies,” and “to propose a plan that preserves the possibility of live standardbred and thoroughbred racing in the State.”

The Monmouth County Legislators are not convinced that the plan that has been presented will accomplish either of these objectives and will continue to reach out to the Governor with alternatives.

“The recommendations of the addendum to the Hanson Report,” said Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (District 30), “will require legislative approval, and it is very important that the legislature be partners in the process to ensure that we preserve and enhance the horseracing industry, thus protecting jobs and open space.

"Unfortunately, the report fails to meet its own goal of preserving the racing industry. I look forward to working with the administration to draft legislation that will meet that goal by providing a sustainable business model for one of New Jersey’s most important job creating and open space preserving industries.”

“I am absolutely disgusted with the supplemental Hanson Report,” said Assemblyman Joseph Malone (District 30). “It totally disrespects the horseracing industry in New Jersey. It turns its back on thousands of working men and women in the State, and we need to do better.”

“I agree with the stated conclusion of the Hanson report that ‘the status quo is simply unsustainable’,” said Assemblyman Samuel Thompson (District 13). “There are some recommendations within the report that I agree with. Others I find very troublesome. I do feel we must take actions that will both preserve the horseracing industry in New Jersey and simultaneously reduce the drain on the states’ taxpayers. The proposals submitted require further work and modification to achieve these twin objectives.”

“Before the Hanson report proposals are enacted, we need to have a debate on how it will impact thoroughbred and harness racing—including looking at job loss and the negative economic repercussions,” said Senator Sean T. Kean (District 11). “Part of this debate should include opportunities for interested parties to weigh in on the proposals. In addition, during these deliberations we have to be mindful of how the horse racing industry preserves open space in Monmouth County and statewide. I am confident that the Christie Administration will work to find sustainable options for the horse racing industry in New Jersey.”

“The entire issue needs more examination before any rush to judgment occurs,” said Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (District 13).


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