Tough Talk From Gural

Published: March 25, 2014 05:52 pm EDT

"Other than building this new Meadowlands, I can't think of one thing that we've done here [in the U.S.] to help get new customers."

Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural says those attending his keynote speech in Milton on Tuesday may not like what he has to say. Gural will be the keynote speaker at Tuesday night's Q&A Session with the Ontario PC Party and its leader, Tim Hudak.

“One thing that I find amazing is that horsepeople seem to have a sense of entitlement that the government owes them something, and that's not the way it works," Gural told Trot Radio's Norm Borg last week. "I understand the logic that the government was able to come in and put these slots at the racetracks and make a lot of money and they didn't have to deal with traffic, zoning, people being opposed to casinos and all of that -- so that certainly was a big plus.

"On the other hand, I understand the argument on the other side that 'hey, the object was that you guys would use some of this money to help you stand on your own two feet. It was not meant to be necessarily forever'."

Gural's advice is that racing on both sides of the border needs to come up with a better plan to promote the sport and have concrete proof with benchmarks to illustrate that the investment government is making in partnering with racing is paying off for both sides.

"If I were in the Government of Ontario, that would be the first question I would ask," said Gural. "I would say, 'OK, I'll keep giving you this money, just tell me what you've done in the last 10 or 15 years to help yourselves and to create new customers', and I don't know how we would answer that. I know here in the U.S., we couldn't answer it."

The first part of the Gural interview aired last Friday. To hear the second part of Gural's interview with Trot Radio's Norm Borg, click the play button below.

Trot Radio - Episode 320 - Jeff Gural

Audio Format: MP3 audio

Host: Norm Borg

The opinions expressed are those of the participants and do not necessarily represent those of Standardbred Canada.

(photo courtesy New Jersey Star-Ledger)



Mr. Gural is not only a smart business man but a very blunt and down to earth person. If I am interpreting his message properly he seems to be saying get off the Government handouts and help yourselves. 5% for marketing out of the purse pool is nothing when the alternative is NOTHING. We want a tax write-off but we don't want to put any of our money up front for marketing. The Government or anyone else doesn't owe us a living. Put our money where our mouth is and promote the sport as any business would. RIGHT NOW WE ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM INSTEAD LETS BE PART OF THE SOLUTION. PUT SOME MONEY ASIDE FOR MARKETING, LET'S GIVE IT OUR BEST SHOT, AND IF IT DOESN'T WORK OUT AT LEAST WE DIDN'T FIDDLE WHILE ROME BURNED

Gural - Slams horsemen and forgets that the tracks should also be included in paragraph three's "you guys". Also, of course he doesn't reveal that in NY the gov't gives him as a track operator a no cost allowance to market and promote but it is not used on racing but rather the slots. Then he continues to blame horsemen for not using their share of monies to market racing while he and other track operators continue to take their 50% share of racing revenue.

This guy goes around blaming horsemen for receiving this revenue enhancement and agrees here that gov't should take it away from them but not him. Having said that for a long time he then claims that a law in NY that caps horsemen's purses at 2013 levels was news to him until one Alan Schwartz brought it up in the February 2014 Monticello dispute. What's coming next from this group for "us guys". That 2013 law his group the NY Gaming Association lobbied for, that was promulgated in June of last year. A law that potentially puts millions of more dollars in the hands of the track operators while freezing agriculture and racing payments at 2013 levels.
Gural, so heavily invested in NY, then publicly goes out front to tell the world of his innocence while sitting back watching racing get beat up. At the same time he is asking the NJ horsemen to follow and be supportive of his efforts to get a Casino in north Jersey. Prediction -at that time - remember the phrase "you guys", it will come up again.

Joseph A Faraldo

I think Mr. Gural is great for horse racing, not only for brigning back Meadowland to it's past glory but also the voice and the respect he bring to our industry.

I do agree the Industry took the SARP for granted without doing much to promote our sport. But the government decided to cut funding without any timeframes and that has an incredible impact on trying to recover from this. it would of been a lot easier to announce a transitional panel that could of reduced, over time, the percentage of SARP funding and use the other percentage for another 2 or 3 years to fund a committee of horse people, tax people, owners, breeders and most importantly expert people in promotions to renew our fan base with a younger crowd.

By having the government make drastic decision like they usually do, they lost most of the can an owner pay fees and have those small track B can an owner invest in the Industry knowing their chance of getting their money back is slim at best....and the owners come with their fan and friends....the lots of the breeding gone to the states....and now the same government is trying to keep our Industry alive with a committee that have no clue what our industry needs...or have been mandated to slowly let the industry die.

The Liberal still have a chance to move this way....but they are getting advices from a transitional panel that does not have the tool to deal with such a complex matter. No one man or woman can resolve this takes a great team of expert in each of the states above.

Hope we get it right so we can enjoy this wonderful Industry for years to come