(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblyman John Burzichelli sponsored to keep thoroughbred racing viable in New Jersey for 2010 by scheduling fewer races but with increased purses was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-2507) authorizes a reduction only for calendar year 2010 in the minimum number of thoroughbred racing dates required by law to be scheduled by Monmouth Park Racetrack and Meadowlands Racetrack.

Under the bill, in 2010 Monmouth Park would be permitted to schedule a minimum of 71 live racing days and the Meadowlands would be permitted to schedule no thoroughbred races.

“Gov. Christie’s transition team projected that the Meadowlands and Monmouth would lose $22 million combined in 2010, a loss that would be difficult to justify for taxpayers and the industry alike given our state’s fiscal crisis,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “Reduced dates for this year combined with larger purses will mean a stronger industry and hopefully help attract stronger crowds as we continue working on ways to strengthen the industry’s future.”

State law requires Monmouth and the Meadowlands to schedule no less than 141 dates in the aggregate each year through 2016.

“One thing we know for sure about our horse racing industry is that the status quo is not sustainable,” Burzichelli said. “These problems are a reality, and at least with this bill we are taking a step toward accepting that reality and devising a solution that benefits everyone.”

The bill also:

· Authorizes the Standardbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association of New Jersey to grant $3 million to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA) to promote the Meadowlands and Monmouth race tracks.

· Authorizes the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA) to lend up to $2 million to the NJSEA or use as purse money at Monmouth in 2010.

· Directs the NJSEA to distribute any unused purse money available on Nov. 21, 2010 for programs to aid New Jersey thoroughbred horsemen during 2011.

· Authorizes the NJSEA to use $2.27 million from 2009 purse underpay for the meet at Monmouth from Sept. 11 to Nov. 21 this year. · Allows the NJSEA to use $2.25 million to increase purses payable to New Jersey-bred foals finishing first, second or third in open races by 20 percent, but not more than $20,000 per horse per race.

· Authorizes the New Jersey Horse Racing Injury Compensation Board to use $2 million in surplus funds to make a loan this year to the NJTHA, with $1.5 million used to pay breeders’ awards from 2008 and 2009 that remain unpaid and $500,000 used to pay awards to breeders and owners of New Jersey-bred horses who earn purses at out-of-state tracks after the end of New Jersey’s 2010 season and before the start of the 2011 season.

The bill was released 5-0 by the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee chaired by Burzichelli. It is expected to get a vote by the full Assembly on May 20.

The bill is also sponsored by Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-Monmouth) and Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R-Ocean/Monmouth/Burlington/Mercer).

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