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
FIELDS SET FOR BREEDERS CROWN FINALS full slate of elimination races on Saturday (October 22) evening at The Meadowlands narrowed down the fields for next weekend’s $5.8 million Breeders Crown, presented by Mullinax Ford ...
WILLIAM "BILL" C. MACK DIESWilliam “Bill” C. Mack, 73, of Upper Freehold Twp. N.J., died on Wednesday (Oct. 12) at CentraState Hospital in Freehold, N.J. ...
STANDARDBRED DEVELOPMENT FUND SERIES CONCLUDED AT FREEHOLD RACEWAYA pair of Standardbred Development Fund finals for two-year-old totting fillies and colts alike were held this week at Freehold Raceway. Each final was contested for a purse of $35,000 ...
BONGIORNO POSTS 1,000TH VICTORY AT FREEHOLDFreehold, NJ --- Driver Joe Bongiorno scored his 1000th victory Friday (Oct. 21) at Freehold Raceway guiding Fathers Amiga for trainer Chris Marino in 1:59 ...
ALWAYS B MIKI, CROWN ELIMS HEADLINE OPENING NIGHTWorld record holders took top billing on Opening Night (October 21) at The Meadowlands, with Always B Miki ($2.20) leading a David Miller grand slam in the evening's $25,000 Open Pace and Lady Shadow ($3.20) capping a four-bagger for driver Yannick Gingras with a Breeders Crown elimination win ...
BREEDERS CROWN 2FT, AMP FIELDS DRAWNElimination winners Thats All Moni and Chezatter drew post positions 1 and 3 respectively in next week's $600,000 Breeders Crown for 2-year-old trotting fillies, to be held at the Meadowlands as part of a blockbuster weekend ...
TRIO OF BREEDERS CROWN FIELDS DRAWNThe three Breeders Crown fields not requiring eliminations--both trotting events for older horses and one pacing event--were drawn on Friday (October 21) evening at the Meadowlands ...
BREEDERS CROWN OPENS LIVE RACING AT THE MEADOWLANDSLive racing returns to The Meadowlands in a big way this weekend with Breeders Crown eliminations, a celebration of the track's 40th anniversary and the fastest Standardbred in history competing in an overnight prep on Friday ...
DETAILS ON BREEDERS CROWN SECURITY AT THE MEADOWLANDSThe Meadowlands and the Hambletonian Society & Breeders Crown are announcing pertinent details regarding the security to be employed for the upcoming Breeders Crown races ...