Originally published Aug. 11, 2011
By Neil Schulman
Oceanport — On Friday, Aug. 5, Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law to overhaul how horse racing is managed in New Jersey.
The legislation will help private owners take over the operation of horse racing from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA), the state agency which manages Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands tracks.
The legislation authorizes a a one-year transitional period — and this year both tracks have been taken over by private owners. The NJSEA signed a deal with Morris Bailey this spring to take over managing Monmouth Park.
In addition, the legislation reduces the statutorily mandated thoroughbred racing days, and permits horsemen’s organizations and track operators to mutually agree to a revised split of simulcast revenues collected at the tracks.
This year and last year, the number of racing days at Monmouth Park were reduced to 71, from the state mandated 141, but that required a special vote by the legislature to approve. The 2010 season was one of the track’s most successful in years.
In a statement, Christie said that he believes this new legislation will allow racing to continue in New Jersey, independent of the state, while saving taxpayers money.
“With the legislation I am signing today, we are taking the critical next step toward securing an independent and self-sustaining horse racing industry in the Garden State – one that no longer depends upon casino subsidies for its survival. We are also saving the state’s beleaguered taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in annual operational subsidies at both venues,” Christie said.
State Senator Jennifer Beck, a prime sponsor of the legislation, said she was pleased the law was passed.
“I congratulate the Governor for signing this bill into law,” said Beck. “This law maps out the future of the horseracing industry in our State. We are extremely fortunate to have two gentlemen, Morris Bailey and Jeff Gural, each of whom has a passion for horseracing, taking over Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands Racetrack, respectively.”
Beck said the plan was a result of months of negotiation and work with the NJSEA, the Standardbred and Thoroughbred associations, and others,
“This is a good day for horseracing in New Jersey,” she said.
Friday was a good day for Christie in horse racing in another way. Christiesborntorun, a 3-year-old colt, won the $50,000 allowance feature at Monmouth Park on Friday. The horse’s name is not just a coincidence. The breeder was Dennis Drazin, Commissioner of the New Jersey Racing Commission, and the owner is Brian Drazin, his brother.