Gov. signs legislation to support horse racing industry

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Gov. Phil Murphy has signed a bill (S-2992) into law, which appropriates $20 million to the New Jersey Racing Commission for horse racing purse subsidies for this fiscal year, with all future appropriations subject to the budget.

The funding will be allocated by the New Jersey Racing Commission equally between the thoroughbred industry and the standardbred industry, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

“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 horse racing experiences in the nation, while also providing a boost to an industry that is integral to our economy,” he said.

All of the funds allocated to the thoroughbred industry will be allocated to Monmouth Park overnight purses. Of the funds allocated to the standardbred industry, 60 percent will be allocated to Meadowlands overnight purses, 16 percent to Freehold Raceway overnight purses, 12 percent to the New Jersey Sire Stakes purses, 6 percent to purse bonuses for New Jersey sired horses and 6 percent for breeders awards purses, according to the press release.

The legislation requires the recipient of any funds appropriated to file an annual report with the New Jersey Racing Commission that documents the purposes for which those funds were used and the amounts allocated for those purposes.

Primary sponsors of the bill include state Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth), Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth), Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) and Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer (R-Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex, Burlington).

“This support is vital to the horse racing industry. It is an important part of New Jersey’s heritage and culture and a key economic driver, especially here in Monmouth County,” Gopal said. “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.”

“I applaud the signing of this legislation,” Downey said. “It’s the funding boost Monmouth Park and the horse racing industry needs at this time to attract customers and talent. It’s an opportunity for the industry to get back on track.”

“This will help to reinvigorate the New Jersey horse racing industry and Monmouth Park,” Houghtaling said. “Job creation, support for horse farms and the opportunity to place New Jersey back on top as a leader in the industry,  this is a win for the industry and for the economy.”

“This legislation represents a new frontier, a new hope for both standardbred and thoroughbred horsemen and many affiliated industries in New Jersey,” said Mike Gulotta, treasurer of the New Jersey Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association.

“For the last 10 years, New Jersey has fallen behind New York, Pennsylvania and others due to the uncompetitive environment in which we found ourselves. This legislation will create jobs and renew interest and investment in New Jersey, specifically in farm lands. It will prove to be a great investment by the state,” Gulotta said.

“The New Jersey thoroughbred horse racing and breeding industry is extremely excited and thankful Gov. Murphy signed into law the purse subsidy legislation,” said Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Monmouth Park, Oceanport.

“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 of the legislators who helped make this possible. As a result of this action, horse racing in New Jersey will survive and prosper,” Drazin said.