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Grossman Concerned With OTB Bailout Plan

Published: October 18, 2010 9:14 pm ET

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Thomas Grossman, the owner of Blue Chip Farms in Walkill, NY, issued an open letter on Monday, October 18 to Gregory Rayburn, the CEO of New York City Off Track Betting, voicing his concern with the new bailout plan now on the table for New York City Off Track Betting.

Grossman’s letter is as follows:

I am writing on behalf of Blue Chip Farms (the largest commercial Standardbred breeding farm in NY), countless concerned NYS harness horse breeders, and my colleagues throughout the harness racing industry to express my dismay and serious concern with the new bailout plan now on the table for New York City Off Track Betting.

One need only glance at this proposed bailout to realize that you were obviously joined in drafting it by the owners of New York State’s racinos and that no entity or persons from the actual racing/breeding side of the industry had any role or input whatsoever. Our New York State breeding industry has made incredible gains in recent years. As a result, tens of millions of dollars have been invested in stallions, mares, training centers and in primary (horse farm development) and secondary (hay and feed providers) NY agriculture. Yet this plan clearly seeks to benefit the VLT vendors and even NYC OTB’s landlord at the direct expense of the breeding industry.

Again, as a member of an industry that has chosen to make major investments in this state and which has recently returned to its rightful place as a national leader in both breeding and racing, I fail to understand the rationale for a NYCOTB bailout plan that contains numerous non-racing givebacks to VLT operators and absolutely nothing but cuts for racing and breeding.

• The proposed reduction in payments to the Harness Breeding Fund will have an immediate, direct, negative impact on breeding in New York State and will result in fewer agricultural jobs and less investment coming into New York. One can’t help but wonder if this provision is a direct response by certain track owners who have made publicly clear that one of their main priorities is to secure a restoration of the 1% reduction in VLT fees in the recent state budget.

• The proposed reduction in racing days will have a similar negative impact on breeding and investment, as the rationale for having horses here in New York State will be decreased.

While we obviously recognize that all of the stakeholders in our industry will need to sacrifice something to make any reorganization of NYCOTB work, this plan contains countless “gives” to the track owners – including upstate VLT operators with virtually no financial interest in the bankruptcy – with absolutely nothing but “takes” from the breeders, horsemen and multitude of related agricultural industries and professions. I urge you to re-think this one-sided approach and to bring all of the various interest groups to the table and hope that the NYS Legislature will join me in calling for a more rationale, equitable approach before it’s too late to save a billion dollar agricultural industry in the state of New York.

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