News and notes: NJ legislature approves $100 million racing subsidy

by Feb 1, 2019Breaking, Business, Regionwide

NJ Assembly approves racing subsidy

It likely won’t even the playing field for New Jersey racing — but it won’t hurt, either.

The state Assembly approved this week a five-year, $20 million per annum subsidy for the racing industry. It will be split among purses at Monmouth Park — the state’s major Thoroughbred track — the Meadowlands, and Freehold Raceway, and standardbred sire stakes and breeding programs. Monmouth will receive half of the total — $10 million annually — with the Meadowlands getting $6 million, Freehold receiving $1.6 million, and the standardbred breeding programs taking in $2.4 million.

The Garden State’s racetracks used to receive an annual $30 million subsidy from the Atlantic City casinos, but that money dried up in 2011. Since, they have been forced to tangle with nearby competitors, all of which have purses enhanced by alternative revenues — a difficult proposition that has seen Monmouth struggling to fill races in the face of declining wagering.

The legislation passed the state Senate in December, and the Thursday vote in the House was overwhelming: 68 in favor versus just six opposed. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is expected to sign the bill. For more, click here.

Our view

Thumbs up to the state Legislature for recognizing that the racing and breeding industries in New Jersey simply must have additional sources of revenue if they are to compete with Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and, of course New York, and the five-year life of the subsidy gives the state’s horsemen a level of confidence in the future that they have not had in years.

Midlantic-owned Maximus Mischief solid Holy Bull favorite

Saturday’s $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull (G2) will once again prove to be a pivotal stop on the Road to the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, where the Triple Crown potential of many starters will hinge on how they handle the two-turns of the 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds. He is even-money on the morning line.

Maximus Mischief was purchased by Chuck Zacney — who races as Cash Is King LLC — for $340,000 out of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training sale this past May — in part because Zacney’s son Alex liked him.

Trainer Robert “Butch” Reid Jr. will saddle Maximus Mischief for the Holy Bull with the confidence the son of Into Mischief won’t be sidetracked on the Triple Crown trail by distance limitations. While others in the field will be stretching out around two turns for the first time in the Holy Bull, Maximus Mischief will actually be cutting back in distance for his 2019 debut.

“He’s already been a mile and an eighth, which I think is a pretty good advantage. It puts us a little bit ahead of the curve with the other 3-year-olds around,” Reid said. “We have an opportunity to run him a mile and a sixteenth, a distance we know he can handle, and the timing was just perfect for us.”

Maximus Mischief, who romped to commanding victories at sprint distances at Parx in his first two starts, successfully stretched out around two turns in his most recent start, scoring a 2 ¼-length triumph in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct Dec. 1.

Owned by Chuck Zacney’s Cash is King LLC and Glenn Bennett’s LC Racing, Maximus Mischief was purchased for $340,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds-in-training sale. The Kentucky-bred colt paid immediate dividends with a dazzlingly 8 ¾-length triumph in his Sept. 29 debut and a six-length victory in a seven-furlong first-level allowance Oct. 20. His two Parx showings earned him a trip to Aqueduct for his stakes debut in the Remsen, in which he set the pace and drew off in the stretch.

Racing Oddity: Side-by-side Midlantic-breds favored in Gulfstream maiden

Both Final Say and Where Paradise Lay will be a long way from home — at least, from their original homes — when they face the starter in South Florida Saturday. They will break from adjacent stalls — post number two and post number three — in the seventh race at Gulfstream Park.

The race is a $43,000 maiden special weight test for three-year-olds going six furlongs on the main track, and it’s drawn a field of 10 on the undercard of the Grade 2 Holy Bull.

Final Say is the tepid morning line favorite with a.m. odds of 3-1. The son of Violence was bred in West Virginia by Nancy Terhune and Ernest Frohboese. He’s been sold twice, as a yearling to Grand Oaks for $90,000 and again this past March as a two-year-old, for $470,000, to Steven Young as agent. He’s owned by Paul Pompa and trained by Todd Pletcher and will have Luis Saez in the irons.

Where Paradise Lay is 4-1 on the morning line — the second choice — and is trained by Stanley M. Hough. The Maryland-bred is a homebred for Sagamore Farm. He is by Into Mischief and out of the graded stakes-placed Candy Ride mare Walkwithapurpose.