WAGNER: NEW JERSEY’S HORSE FARMS, RACING INDUSTRY AT RISK UNLESS CHRISTIE RECTIFIES MISGUIDED POLICIES

Calls on governor to allow slot machines on Meadowlands Racetrack to level the playing the field for these industries amid tough competition

(TRENTON) – With news that the state’s largest commercial racehorse breeder in New Jersey will be going out of business, Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-Bergen) on Wednesday called on Gov. Christie to correct erroneous policies that are threatening the horse breeding and racing industries in New Jersey, and allow slot machines at the Meadowlands Racetrack to allow these industries to flourish amidst competition from neighboring states.

A recent article in the Asbury Park Press reported the planned closure of the 900-acre Perretti Farms in southwestern Monmouth County. According to the article, the closure is driven by a slump in harness racehorse sales and the decision by Gov. Christie to prohibit gambling at racetracks, which has hurt New Jersey’s racing and horse breeding industries.

“The Governor’s Task Force on Gaming was flawed in not recommending slot machines at the Meadowlands,” said Wagner. “Their lack of foresight has made the racing industry in New Jersey unable to compete with neighboring states, and may very well put an end to not just the horse breeding industry, but the racing industry in the state. It’s a terrible domino effect.”

“This will have a devastating effect on the farmers, and their employees, who depend on the horse farms for a living. Perretti Farms has 30 staff members who will soon find themselves unemployed,” Wagner added. “Furthermore, the beautiful landscape of the horse farms of New Jersey will be changed forever. Who will buy the land, a shopping mall developer?”

According to the article, Perretti’s planned exit comes at a time when horse racing’s overhaul under Gov. Christie is struggling to find its stride, with sharp decreases in the handles at Monmouth Park, the Meadowlands Racetrack and Freehold Raceway.

Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands, both state-owned tracks, are being privatized. According to the article, the governor has ruled out allowing the tracks to have casinos or expanded gambling, sources of revenue that tracks in neighboring states are thriving on. New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware subsidize the horse farm industry.

New Jersey formerly had a subsidy program between the racing industry and the Atlantic City casinos, with up to $30 million per year added to race purses, but Christie ended the arrangement this year, according to the article.