CHRISTIE: DON’T BLAME ME FOR PERRETTI’S EXIT
CHRISTIE: DON’T BLAME ME FOR PERRETTI’S EXIT
By Bob Jordan
August 19, 2011
To some, Gov. Chris Christie’s overhaul of the New Jersey horse racing industry claimed its first victim when Perretti Farms announced that the upcoming bloodstock auctions will serve as going-out-of-business sales.
Christie said it’s too bad the Monmouth County breeding giant won’t be around for what he acknowledges will be a bumpy period for horse racing in the state. But the Perretti exit isn’t his fault, Christie said.
“We’re going through a transition,’’ the Republican governor said. “We’re going from public ownership of racetracks and public subsidy to private management of tracks and private subsidy.’’
“If Perretti Farms has decided they want to get out of the business, that’s their business. I’m a little surprised by it, to tell you the truth, because they were major participants in all the negotiations regarding the Meadowlands and huge proponents for saving the Meadowlands track.’’
“And for them to be proponents and sitting at the table, and then turning around later and saying they’re getting out of the business seems to me be a little odd. But it’s their business decision. It‘s not my money, it’s theirs,” Christie said.
What Christie says about those grueling negotiations is true: When Jeffrey Gural first swooped into Trenton last December -- bringing cocktail-napkin plans to lease the state-owned Meadowlands Racetrack -- he was flanked by Perretti representatives and other industry leaders.
More meetings to tie up details with Christie administration officials took place into the spring months. Anthony Perretti, the farm’s general manager, rarely missed a sitdown.
Since then, Christie said, “there’s nothing about racing that’s changed in this period of time.”
But that’s where the governor ’s story is off, said Bob Marks, spokesman for Perretti Farms.
“A lot has changed,’’ said Marks, pointing to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent hints that the cash-strapped Empire State may go all-in for new commercial casino gambling.
“Where would that leave us? For people in New Jersey to wait out for a casino at the Meadowlands someday, there won’t be any market left. New York will be ahead of us,’’ Marks said.
“Perretti Farms is dispersing because Gov. Christie has made a decision preventing us from expanding gambling at the Meadowlands. The economics for our breeding operation don’t make sense. Things have certainly changed since the Meadowlands was saved from closing, in a short time,’’ Marks said.
There‘s also few signs that interest from fans and gamblers -- potential horse buyers -- is improving.
The Meadowlands has trended 15 percent lower in handle, despite a forecast for a boost because of reduced dates, and Marks said, “Look at Freehold Raceway: Nobody‘s going there. They use the parking to store cars from automobile dealers.’’
Christie said there’s little the state government can do about the Perretti Farms closing. The 900-plus acres in Upper Freehold houses close to 400 horses -- sires, broodmares and foals -- and employs 30 people.
But Democratic state lawmakers -- who went along with Christie’s Hanson Commission recommendations to beef up the business climate for Atlantic City casinos and zero out the casino-to-racetrack subsidies -- are signaling that Perretti Farms is too big to fail.
Firing off a press release the day after the Perretti announcement, influential state Senator Ray Lesniak said he would reintroduce online casino legislation vetoed by Christie earlier this year. Money for the horse industry is tucked into the bill, Lesniak said -- enough to “provide a bridge to self-sufficiency for three years through purse enhancements to keep the horse racing industry alive.’’
"Online gaming will be a huge boost for the casino industry,'' Lesniak added. "It can also be a temporary savior for our horse racing industry until we get sports betting at our casinos and racetracks.''
Share on Facebook
END OF YEAR PACESETTER NOW AVAILABLEThe November-December 2015 issue of the Pacesetter ...
MEADOWLANDS LIFTS TRAINER ENTRY LIMITSThe Meadowlands will be suspending its rule limiting a trainer to two horses in the final of a stakes race ...
TRAINER-DRIVER KEVIN HEWITT LOSES BATTLE TO CANCERTrainer-driver Kevin Hewitt, 60, passed away on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, after a brief battle with melanoma ...
200 HARNESS DATES AWARDED FOR 2016New Jersey’s two harness tracks – the Meadowlands and Freehold Raceway – have been awarded a combined 200 racing dates for 2016 ...
FORD ELECTED SBOANJ PRESIDENTThe Board of Directors of the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey elected Mark Ford as its president ...
LUCHENTO & GURAL AGREE TO MEET ON “TRAINER COMMENTS” DECREEA Meadowlands initiative to have trainers provide condition comments on each entry was delayed thanks to a phone call from Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association President Tom Luchento ...
IMPLEMENTATION OF MEADOWLANDS TRAINER REPORTS DELAYEDAfter discussions with representatives of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association, the Meadowlands has decided to delay its implementation of the trainers reports on each horses condition until a meeting with the SBOANJ takes place ...
MEADOWLANDS RELEASES RULING ON SEARSBrian Sears suspended for 15 days ...
STATEMENT FROM MEADOWLANDS - TRAINING INFORMATION REQUIREDThe Meadowlands will require training information with each entry at least 72 hours prior to the race ...