01/30/2002 1:00AM

Simulcasts threatened in Jersey


Simulcasting may be shut down in New Jersey because of a dispute over racing days between horsemen and racetracks. Officials of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association raised that possibility Wednesday after the New Jersey Racing Commission approved 121 live racing dates for 2002, well short of a 141-date legal requirement to take offtrack wagers.

The commission gave 76 days to Monmouth, 44 days to The Meadowlands, and one to Atlantic City, although nine of Monmouth's days will be considered part of Atlantic City's meet. Monmouth and The Meadowlands are owned by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, a state agency.

Dennis Drazin, the horsemen's legislative counsel, said Wednesday that the commission "was ignoring the requirements of the law," and that horsemen were "prepared to go to war."

"We are taking this to appeal, we are going to file a lawsuit, and we are not going to allow any simulcasting to go on this year," Drazin said. By law, all simulcast signals must be approved by the horsemen's association.

Commission and authority officials could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.

The 141-date requirement was included in legislation passed last year that approved offtrack and telephone wagering. Drazin said that Bruce Garland, vice president for racing of the authority, told commissioners that it had no plans to open OTB parlors or a telephone-wagering operation in 2002, making the requirement moot.