By Bill Finley
After a $20 million purse subsidy that was used to bolster purses at New Jersey's Thoroughbred and Standardbred tracks was left out of an initial budget proposal from Governor Phil Murphy, lawmakers have approval a final budget that will include a $15 million subsidy for the 2021 racing season.
The money will be divided evenly between the two breeds.
“I am pleased that the governor has seen fit to give us back 15 of the $20 million that is going to go support purses next year,” said Dennis Drazin, Chairman and CEO of Darby Development, which manages Monmouth Park. “Since it was taken out of the budget, we have worked hard on this and, fortunately, through leadership in the Senate and the Assembly, as well as a lot of our local politicians who supported the effort, the Governor saw fit to put it back in the budget. We would have liked to have had the full $20 million, but given that he is cutting everybody, I am thrilled that the Governor has our back and recognizes the importance of the industry and how important it is to save a lot of jobs and keep us competitive.”
Though Monmouth will have $2.5 million less to put toward its purse account, Drazin said he didn't anticipate that there would be a purse cut next year.
Approved prior to the 2019 meet, the purse subsidy was a much-needed shot in the arm for New Jersey racing that brought its purse levels up to a point where they were competitive with neighboring states that benefit from revenues from casinos.