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New Jersey can save open space and horse racing with one word: Override (Page 2)

Scenes such as this one will disappear if nothing is done to support the horse industry in the state of New Jersey. You can save open space by supporting the override of Governor's Christie's veto of the sports betting bill by contacting your Senator
Scenes such as this one will disappear if nothing is done to support the horse industry in the state of New Jersey. You can save open space by supporting the override of Governor's Christie's veto of the sports betting bill by contacting your Senator
Photography by Marcya Roberts

revenues from alternative gaming. Sadly, horse farm owners in New Jersey are ready to relocate to the greener pastures of neighboring states.

Job preservation and creation would be another positive outcome of a successful override. There are approximately 13,000 jobs generated by the equine industry in the state — horse racing contributes to more than half of those jobs according the Rutgers report.

These are not just jobs at the racetracks for track attendants and ticket-takers. The majority of jobs are people who manage and support the equines and the facilities. These are the farmers, veterinarians, breeders, stallion owners, stable owners, groomers, jockeys, exercise riders, farriers, tack shops, feed stores, seed farms and others who devote their lives to work with equines and agriculture. Horse racing alone generates about $780 million of economic activity a year for the state according to the study.

Sports betting would provide New Jersey horse racing with a dedicated source of income

Horse racing in New Jersey should have a dedicated source of income that it can manage itself and pump back into its own industry. For years the Meadowlands made money. And for years the state would raid the coffers and spend that money on everything other than racing. That happened over and over until the money was gone, leaving nothing for horse racing. Sports betting can provide the revenues the industry so desperately needs.

THIS IS PAGE TWO OF A TWO-PART ARTICLE, CLICK HERE TO GO TO PAGE ONE.

Time is of the essence, however. Because of the lack of funding and support, horse racing is already faltering. Tom Luchento, president of the Standardbred owners and breeders in an article in NJ.com explained that the Standardbred industry is a victim of declining purses and breeding fees in New Jersey as breeding stallions have all but vanished. There were once 100 Standardbred stallions in New Jersey. Today there are just two.

Only 122 Thoroughbred foals were registered in the state in 2013. That is a drop from a high point of 517 according to the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association of New Jersey (TBANJ). And only 69 Thoroughbred mares were bred to New Jersey stallions in 2013 — down from a high of 597. Racing days have been reduced. In 1993 there were 289 Thoroughbred race days in New Jersey providing full-time work for those in the industry. By 2013 the number of race days dropped to just 79. These small numbers put pressure on trainers and owners who need daily help to care for horses year-round but must now rely a small pool of races to pay the bills.

If the override doesn't pass, open space all over New Jersey will begin to disappear and Monmouth County will be at the center of the bull's-eye

Without an override the remaining New Jersey breeders and horse owners will be forced to close up and relocate to neighboring states where incentives are flourishing. A significant number of these New Jersey farms are in Monmouth County where Monmouth Park and Freehold Raceway are located so that is where the greatest damage will occur. Senator Lesniak is aware of the urgency of the matter. "Sports betting will make all the difference in the world to Monmouth Park and horse racing," he said. "We must move on this now because we have already seen horse farms close down. It won't be long until the owners of these properties find other uses which means more townhouses and strip malls."

The Senate passed the sports betting bill in June by a 38-1 vote. The Assembly similarly voted 63-6 with two abstentions. Both Senator Joe Kyrillos and Senator Jennifer Beck who represent Monmouth County voted for the original sports betting proposal. Kyrillos and Beck must stick to their guns and step in to support the people they represent in Monmouth County with a successful override of the gubernatorial veto on September 22 that will save the equine industry, agriculture, open space and the quality of life New Jersey residents deserve.

Take a minute now and voice your support for an override of Governor Christie's veto. Click here or visit http://raymondlesniak.com/start-sports-betting-in-new-jersey

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THIS IS PAGE TWO OF A TWO-PART ARTICLE, CLICK HERE TO GO TO PAGE ONE.