Monday, March 28, 2011

NJ racing hot in the blog community

Jersey's largest paper provides scant coverage of horse racing (if Ron Rippey's daily picks and Tom Luicci's Derby Watch every Monday constitute "coverage"), and it's been years since the Asbury Park Press has done legitimate full-time reporting on Monmouth Park, so it is refreshing to read a lot in the last week about the State's industry, whether for the good or bad.  The discussion is lively and thought-provoking.

First, a number of passionate bloggers have picked up the void left by the major media. The Knight Sky, absolutely one of the best at this craft, in my opinion, posted a timely piece on Kelly Breen, trainer of winner Pants On Fire in Saturday's Louisiana Derby, and along with Pacingguy and Alan from Left At The Gate, have fueled discussion on the fate of NJ's standard-bred racing and white knight Jeff Gural, who I find as blunt as they come (January 21 and March 25), even as I am not a follower of pacers and trotters.

Pony Bob, pictured here, still relevant as the deliveryman
for NJ Horseplayer's minuscule 4NJBets startup funds
Anyone with a questionable IQ like me understands that the Meadowlands will falter without significant outside help and/or a change in business model amid Governor Christie's boorish opposition to a casino at the Meadowlands.  Mr. Gural might have made waves knocking organized labor (tellers, in this case), but for anyone who uses the state-operated ADW (which still seems to use the Pony Express to transact business, based on my recent sign-up for an account) or questions why, during the thoroughbred off-season, there are still parking valets at Monmouth Park, waves are exactly what is needed.

Meanwhile, fellow NJ-based NHC Tour blogger Terry at Red Rock Or Bust touched upon the interesting quandary for Monmouth Park, some 40 days before the tentative Saturday, May 14 opening, what with the bidding for a 5-year operating lease and 50% take of OTB revenue still up for grabs.  As I have commented in the past, a 141-day meet is obscene and unrealistic in this environment.  The Monmouth meeting, at most, should run 70-90 days, with weekday racing (including Tuesdays, when Saratoga is dark) from July 4 weekend through Labor Day weekend, and weekend racing through Columbus Day.  I seriously hope the legislature and horsemen recognize the preposterousness of a 141-day meet and reach a common ground on a logical calendar.  The 2010 "Elite Meet" was clearly a step in the right direction, and could be easily improved upon and perhaps welcome input from the horseplayer community.  And it is scary to think that the only certainty the NJ racing fan has is 6-day turf meet at the decrepit Atlantic City Race Course.


  1. Gotta love this post. Not just for the plug (thanks) but it reveals a few new developments.

    I'd like to add the outstanding NJ-based photographer Sarah K. Andrew's blog Rock And Racehorses blog She works for Barry Weisbord's Thoroughbred Daily News which recently introduced the TDN blog out of Red Bank.

    TDN employs the locally based writer by the name of Bill Finley. We also get local coverage from him on the NJ issues in NJ Standardbred Owners Association newsletters.

    As for Jeff Gural, I am with him 100%. The entire business model must be revamped. The unions should not get in the way. There is simply too much to lose at The Meadowlands racetrack. The rest of the state and the entire standardbred industry figure to fall like dominos. Now is not the time to play hard ball. Gural-Settlemoir team up north would have a positive effect on the racetracks in the rest of the state. I am sure of it.

    Lastly, I am glad fellow Garden Staters are now dipping into the blogosphere. If everyone pitches in with what they can perhaps we can slowly compensate for the lack of horse racing coverage in the local newspapers.

  2. I wonder if that Pony Express horse was on "Lasix and Bute". :P