As would be expected, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s $32.4 billion budget proposal announced on Tuesday includes countless spending cuts to try to counteract the loss of revenue due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is a cut of a $71.3 million state subsidy toward New Jersey Transit, along with many trims in the $5 million to $25 million range.
Among those is a $20 million cut from an annual horse racing purse subsidy that was signed into law in February 2019. That money was to be split each year equally between the thoroughbred horsemen at Monmouth Park and the harness racing communities of Meadowlands Racetrack and Freehold Raceway.
The subsidy is a mere fraction of the hundreds of millions in slot machine revenue subsidies allocated to racetracks in New York and Pennsylvania, but it has helped the bottom line of all three tracks in both 2019 and 2020.
But what’s next?
Still time for a budget revise
Freehold resumes its harness racing schedule this weekend, after having been off since early March — about half of which was previously scheduled as dormant anyway. The track will now feature races — so far, with limited attendance — until the end of the year.
The Meadowlands schedule peaked with The Hambletonian card on Aug. 8, with a three-week break ending on Sept. 5, which also happens to the the amended date for the Kentucky Derby. That track also will continue on weekends for the rest of 2020.
Monmouth Park is continuing to offer races on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until its season concludes on Sept. 27.
Horsemen to get paid in spite of drug lab’s tardiness
The state Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association was given the green light Monday to guarantee $7 million in purse money earned at Monmouth Park races this summer, but which has been delayed by a state-approved laboratory’s failure to return drug testing results for horses that raced as long as six weeks ago.
The same lab had similar issues last summer, creating uncertainty in the minds of bettors over which horses were clean.
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