On Thursday, February 2, officials with the Meadowlands Racetrack released a statement in regard to the lawsuit it is facing due to the cancellation of the Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic and Thomas D'Altrui Miss New Jersey for three-year-old pacers.
The contents of the release from the Meadowlands Racetrack appear below.
Meadowlands Statement on 2017 NJ Classic & Miss NJ Cancellation
The Meadowlands currently faces a lawsuit over the cancellation of the 2017 edition of the Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic and Thomas D'Altrui Miss New Jersey for three-year-old pacers, filed by an owner claiming eligibility.
While it pleased no one in Meadowlands management to exercise its right to cancel a stake, the reality is that with the purse account overpaid by more than $5 million at the end of 2016 there was little choice but to do so if management is to satisfy its many obligations to the numerous stakeholders who rely on the viability of our track and the industry.
Aside from the issues encountered in our continuing to fund these losses, The Meadowlands is required to demonstrate a plan for solvency to those financial institutions that hold the mortgage on the property. A part of that process is to submit a budget for all facets of the racing business, a budget to which it must abide. The purse/stakes account is one element of that budget.
With no alternative source of revenue on the horizon, and with a handle on both live racing and the import simulcast (the largest revenue stream to purses) declining each year, The Meadowlands purse account faces the prospect of another substantial loss in 2017. Many options, short of exercising its clear right to cancel the Miss NJ and NJ Classic races, were considered, including a dramatic reduction in stakes races, which would have serious ramifications to the industry.
At first the decision was made to try and continue with as many stakes as possible. A sponsorship call went out within the industry to support the 2017 stakes program. That call, the response to which was well received for which we are grateful, did not cure the dilemma.
A few stakes were still required to be deleted to meet budget, among them the NJ Classic and Miss NJ. This is largely due, but not exclusively, to the fact that there are so few horses eligible to the NJSS program, particularly pacers. In last year's sophomore NJSS colt pace there were seven entered in each of the two legs and six entered the final. At the same time, neither the SBOANJ nor the Sire Stake Board had any funds available.
In 2016 The Meadowlands, without obligation, added $150,000 of the $235,000 in total purses for the NJ Classic and Miss NJ to run these stakes. For the foregoing reasons, among others, that option is simply not viable in 2017.
The fact is that $150,000 has to come from somewhere, so if The Meadowlands is forced to hold these races, others must be dropped from the schedule. The current plan would be for the Meadowlands to exercise its right to cancel the two Meadowlands races for older mare pacers, the Golden Girls and Lady Liberty which each require $65,000 in added money. Any payments made to these stakes would be refunded if that were to occur.