Faraldo/Gural Spat Continues

Published: September 26, 2011 12:35 pm EDT

The back and forth between racetrack owner-operator Jeff Gural and Standardbred Owners Association of New York President Joe Faraldo just refuses to stop


On Saturday, September 24, Faraldo issued a statement to trades media regarding drug testing, the movement of the Cane Pace, marketing dollars and more.

Faraldo's words appear below in their entirety.

While I am loathe to subject readers of the industry news websites to any further back and forth between Mr. Gural and myself – since it is obvious that he and I will need to agree to disagree on certain opinions related to our industry – I must respond very briefly to a couple of key misrepresentations that were contained in his comments of September 21.

First and foremost, Mr. Gural’s statement that Rick Violette, President of the NY Thoroughbred Horsemen, had “complained that Mr. Faraldo, on behalf of the harness horsemen, had refused to contribute to the cost of purchasing this [drug testing] equipment” is simply not true. For the record, such a request or conversation never took place between myself and Rick Violette and Mr. Violette conveyed to me yesterday that he never said any such thing to Jeff Gural. He also said that he would be reaching out to Mr. Gural to clarify that this is patently false information. It is one thing to put a spin on facts, but it is quite another to misrepresent, or worse create 'facts.'

Secondly, the actual issue with shifting the recent Cane Pace from New York to Pennsylvania was not related to the outrageous implication that drug testing is inferior in NY under Dr. George Maylin, but rather the issue was the fact that New York currently allows the permissive use of cortisone in horses and Pennsylvania does not. That was the central fact and, as a point of information, PA did conduct tests on all samples and to the credit of our NY horsemen there were no reported violations - even under a different testing regimen.

Additionally, Mr. Gural’s unfortunate suggestion that the standardbred horsemen “do not care enough” to contribute to steroid testing in New York is also simply not supported by the facts. The standardbred horsemen freely agreed to the imposition of a $10 per start surcharge imposed on horsemen in New York State several years ago to pay for just such testing. Industry observers know that the NYS Racing & Wagering Board’s past debt to Cornell delayed the testing implementation, which NY horsemen are paying for at a cost of $1.3 million per year – mostly out of the pockets of the harness industry in NYS. Do I need to remind everyone that such cost was that of track operators before racetracks morphed into racinos!

In closing there is a very telling quote from Mr. Gural that I think encapsulates what is obviously a clear and calculated effort to push any and all financial obligations related to racing – which have always been either the responsibility of the track or at a minimum, split between management and horsemen – solely onto the backs of the horsemen: “…it was unlikely that the track owners would divert marketing money from the casinos to racing since the economics did not make sense for them to do so and if we wanted to insure our long-term future it made sense for us to take over the marketing ourselves.”

For Mr. Gural to lament on one hand about the loss of racing fans and the need to bring younger people into the sport, and then on the other hand admit that the track owners have no interest in actually using their state-sponsored marketing allowance to market or support the racing side of their operations is cynicism of the highest order and demonstrates quite clearly what we horsemen are up against in our efforts to protect our livelihoods and grow our sport. Let’s not forget that since the advent of VLTs in NYS, the tracks have gotten nearly $1.4 billion dollars, and in addition to that there is a marketing allowance of between 8-10%, for the permissible use of promoting VLTs, and also to promote racing. One would expect that a self proclaimed devotee of harness racing would use that money like Yonkers does. So if a racino operator doesn’t want to spend that money given to promote racing, then perhaps a fair amount of that money could be managed by the horsemen, who have a real and vested interest in the sport.

At the end of the day, we all have the right to our own opinions, but we don’t have the right to our own facts. I honestly had not planned on responding, but the clear factual inaccuracies about the horseman’s actions on drug testing – as well as the misimpressions created about the differences between Pennsylvania and New York drug testing and the horsemen’s interest in the long-term well-being of our sport – compelled me to pen this response. Thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight.



They should lock Faraldo and Gural in a room together with a case of beer and two baseball bats.
These two people need to need to see the industry is stronger when they speak as one.

I have just come from Wallacetown fair where they held racing under the lights in terrible weather conditions a band of mainly volounteers put on 8 races supported by local horsepeople. The dedication shown by the people of this sport is magnificent and Iam sure Mr Gural takes inspiration from lots of people like this to save the Meadowlands not for a quick buck but for an industry worth saving. Well done Wallacetown and good luck Mr Gural ....

Wow....the poor "under/poorly paid union workers" LOL!!!!!! They had 2 options.....take a cut like everyone else or lose their job. Jeff Gural was not union busting, he was/is trying to make a business model that works. It's sad to hear all the negative BS when he was the only one willing to step up. If anyone believes for one minute that the industry as a whole would not have took a major blow by losing the Meadowlands, you're a little loopy. When Roosevelt closed there was the Meadowlands to replace it. Losing the marquee track in this day & age would have been a fatal blow to harness racing imo. As far as Faraldo & Gural, they seem to not like each other, but they should keep their spat out of the press. The sport needs forward thinkers like Jeff Gural.

Patricia Martin's idea of the NA horsemen building there own track and saying to heck with the big m maybe the single funniest thing i have ever read on standardbred canada. It is LOL funny.

Patricia Martin FYI Mr. Gural has real state holdings in New York City worth hudreds of millions of dollars. He doesn't need to stuff his pockets with miniscule pocket change he would get from the Meadowlands. The fact is he was the only one who stepped up to the plate with his own money and time and come up with a financial plan to save the Meadowlands. Without the Meadowlands it would have put harness racing back 20 years.

Secondly, try to see how easy it start from scratch and raise hudrends of millions to build a racetrack in this financial environment. You have zero chance of accomplishing that as no sane banker will lend money to a dying industry that loses money year in and year out without slots.

Finally, everyone at the Meadowlands took a 20 per cent pay cut from management to tellers to security guards. Moreover, tellers are lucky they even have jobs as majority of patrons use self serve betting machines today. For the 20 hours of work a week they put in they are very well paid when you include health benefits.

In reply to by Pacingguy

In the end ... we're all either Pro-Business or Pro-Horsemen ... Pro-Rich or Pro-LittleGuy ... Republican or Democrat ... conservative or liberal. Mr. Gural threatened to deep-6 the whole Meadowlands deal - if a few poorly-paid unionized ticket-sellers wouldn't take a pay cut. Makes me sick. And if the Meadowlands went down - another would rise up ... at Chester or Yonkers or Woodbine. The same old 'death of harness racing' echoed the demise of Roosevelt etc. Harness Racing is far bigger than the Meadowlands - always was and always will be.

Does anyone see a pattern here? Gural takes over, tells the mutual clerks to take a whopping big drop in salary - now wants horsemen to pay for drug testing. Who gets hit next. Mr. Gural is going to make sure he stuffs his pockets as much as possible. I still can't believe the mutual clerks went for such an awful kick in the gut. Perhaps it is time all NA horsemen build their own track and to heck with the Meadowlands.

First of all, I wish these two can keep their spats private. Arguing in a public forum say, he said, no he said, and so forth does no one any good. That being said....

Gurals opponents paint him as a casino operator. Yet, he owns a breeding farm, and races horses as well. He is part of the industry. I dare say he spends more money on promoting harness racing than any other person who operates a racino.

Having the horsemen pay for the equipment may be improper, but not a conflict of interest. This is a regulatory issue and the NYSRWB should be paying for it; that being said, they were not about to so the thoroughbred horsemen paid for the equipment to keep the customer's faith in their product. The standardbred horsemen are happy with the way things are. Of course, look at our gamblers, many of them trying to handicap who is the better chemist.

Why should the horsemen pay for testing equipment? If it wasn't the fact there were so many chemists, there wouldn't be a need to test for steroids. No, they shouldn't pay for all the equipment, but to contribute towards is not outrageous.

I never heard Gural call himself the Messiah. However, where would the industry be if the Meadowlands was already closed for good; which would have happened if not for Gural? As for the existing plant, I never liked it from day one; it lacks character unless you like steel. Besides, who cares what he does with the a new grandstand or revising the existing grandstand? As long as it doesn't come form the horsemen's pocket, it shouldn't matter.

Is Gural gambling on a casino coming to the Meadowlands? Sure, but you would have to be an idiot to buy a racetrack without the prospect of a casino. Most people wouldn't even buy a track without slots being approved. What was the last track built without the prospect of slots?

The days of getting heavy gamblers to the track are over; they are betting through the ADWs. To get people to the track you need to make it entertaining, in an area where inexpensive entertainment options are available, making the track family friendly is a good idea. I dare suspect most of us who started wagering went ot the track as young people. How many of us started when we were in our twenties? If you don't gain the young people's attention, they are lost. By the way, have you seen how well the NJSEA has been in marketing to the gambler the last few years? Maybe trying something new is not a bad thing.

Regarding race dates at the Meadowlands. Let's race for more days and race for $2,400 purses like Balmoral was racing. There is not enough money to race 180 day meets. They are racing 83 days next year and as business improves, more dates can be added through negotiation with the horsemen.

BTW, there is too much racing in the United States already. You can find on some summer days 20+ tracks operating do we need that much racing? The business model is broken, we need less days of racing and fewer tracks racing at one time.

Mr. Faraldo can preach flush with slot money. Their wagering handle is like Cal Expo's and go take a look at what they race for at Cal Expo and see what they would be racing for if not for slots. What is being done to promote harness racing at Yonkers? Not nearly as much as at Tioga Downs.

Mr Kearns ... thank you for your comments, which fairly mirror my own. I wonder if the 'downside' to BigM investors not getting RICH from Racino action ... could be the development of Meadowlands property into highrise buildings ... and them getting MORE RICH.

"THE BACK-AND-FORTH REFUSES TO STOP"??? Does this imply that Gural should get the last word? God help us.

Dear Mr. Faraldo, Thank you for your accurate response and setting the record straight.
Finally someone in our industry has the hutspa to stand up with facts to this guy.
Asking the horsemen to pay for their own testing is ridiculous, it is the responsibilty of the state and track to pay for the costs, to have horsemen pay for policing themselves is wrong and conflict of interest.
The horsemen better wake up to this self proclaimed Messiah of the industry, he has asked
workers, unions,track management & horsemen to pay or make reductions for his benefit. The $100 million for a new facility is just to prepare his venture for a future racino, it will do nothing to improve racing attendance and handle. $10-20 million would have been enough to downsize and makeover the existing plant !
Many including myself disagree with almost all of his proposals : carnivals, free ice cream, family outings, nonsense ! This isn't rural upstate New York !
He needs BETTORS, both at the track and @ AWD's,simulcast sites etc. promotions for Bettors, good racing with LARGER purses to attract the stables that people will bet on !
More dates NOT less, for the former premier track in the world !