12/22/2010 4:31PM

New Jersey Racing Commission acts to assure simulcasts continue

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The New Jersey Racing Commission on Wednesday approved 141 race dates each for Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing in 2011, according to the commission’s executive director, in a vote that was largely precipitated by the need to approve the statutory minimum of live racing days for next year in order for simulcasting to continue as of Jan. 1.

This was the second time that the commission approved the dates submission from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, despite ongoing efforts by both Thoroughbred and Standardbred interests to devise racing schedules that might diverge significantly from the approval. After the commission first approved the schedule in November, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the action, citing his concern that the state should not continue to subsidize racing at Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands, the two tracks owned and operated by the NJSEA.

The approval will allow the authority to continue to import simulcasts after the end of the year, and will also allow the Meadowlands to open a Standardbred meeting in January. Meanwhile, horsemen and NJSEA officials expect to continue negotiations on a 2011 racing schedule, with the expectation of going back to the commission to get approval when the dates have been finalized, according to Frank Zanzuccki, the commission’s executive director.

“The Sports Authority indicated that they are still in discussions and they expect the schedule to be approved later next year,” Zanzuccki said.

The determination of a live racing calendar in New Jersey has been held up by legislative proposals and negotiations between horsemen and Gov. Christie on future plans for both racing and gambling in the state. The legislature is not expected to address the plans until next year after passing a handful of preliminary bills addressing legislative relief earlier this month, according to representatives of horsemen.