Posted: Feb. 15, 2019
Legislation that will provide $20 million in purse supplements and breed-development funds for horse racing in New Jersey this year was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy Feb. 14.
The Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries will split the funds. Monmouth Park, which gets $10 million for overnight purses, had already released its schedule and a few details on purses for the 2019 meet in anticipation of Murphy signing the measure, which easily passed the Senate and Assembly in January.
“The New Jersey Thoroughbred horseracing and breeding industry is extremely excited and thankful Gov. Murphy signed into law the purse subsidy legislation,” said Dennis Drazin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Darby Development, which operates Monmouth on behalf of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “This effort to help racing and breeding in New Jersey has always been a high priority for Gov. Murphy to help a struggling industry that supports 13,000 jobs and helps preserve 176,000 acres of land dedicated to preservation and open space.
“In addition to Gov. Murphy we would like to thank leadership and all legislators that helped make today possible. As a result of (this) action, horse racing in New Jersey will survive and prosper.”
“New Jersey’s horse racing industry is a key economic engine, supporting thousands of jobs and attracting tourists and fans from around the world,” Murphy said. “Our state has a long and proud history of horse racing and we must recapture our competitive edge in the industry. With this funding, New Jersey can continue to offer one of the most exciting horseracing experiences in the nation, while also providing a boost to an industry that is integral to our economy.”
Of the Standardbred share, $6 million will go to Meadowlands for overnight purses, $1.6 million to Freehold Raceway for purses and the rest to Standardbred breed development. New Jersey Thoroughbred breeding wasn’t specifically named in the legislation, but Monmouth announced it would restore a 40% owner bonus for New Jersey-bred horses that compete in open company and add some New Jersey-bred stakes.
The legislation actually authorizes $20 million a year over five years, but lawmakers added language that requires the racing industry to document to the New Jersey Racing Commission whether the infusion of money from the general fund is working to meet certain goals. In addition, each recipient racetrack must have a written agreement with its horsemen’s group on the sharing of revenue from sports betting.
“This support is vital to the horseracing industry,” said Sen. Vin Gopal, one of the bill’s sponsors. “It is an important part of New Jersey’s heritage and culture and a key economic driver, especially here in Monmouth County. With tens of thousands of jobs impacted, directly and indirectly, I am commend the governor, the Senate and the Assembly for their bipartisan leadership on this issue.”
(Monmouth Park photo by Tom LaMarra)