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NYRA Warns Employees: "Possible June 9 Shutdown"
In the US, the New York Racing Association "formally notified more than 1,400 employees that it will stop racing & start closing down its racetracks on June 9" reported thoroughbredtimes.com. While the NYRA "continues to pursue solutions with state officials that could avert a racing shutdown", NYRA president Charles Hayward declared bluntly: "When we're out of money, we stop!" Meanwhile the Gr1 Belmont Stakes (3rd leg of the 3YO Triple Crown) is scheduled for June 5 & Governor David Paterson has "pledged the state would approve a loan of up to US$25 million to keep racing going". Amid the turmoil, some of New York's most prominent horsemen "have already taken portions of their stables to Monmouth Park in New Jersey" (where a lucrative US$1 million-per-day meeting began last Saturday). Prominent trainer Rick Violette (a NYRA board member & president of the 5,000-member New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association) confirmed: "I've got 10 there. Most of us had to do it out of self-defence. We're committed to New York, but we also have an obligation to our owners, especially if races we wanted to run don't fill. This is an expensive game & most owners lose money. We have to put our owners in a position to make money. It's a business decision." Several more New York trainers "are either new to Monmouth or returning after a long absence this year": Steve Asmussen, Patrick Biancone, Gary Contessa, Nick Zito & Violette "have a combined 80 stalls there, which represent a portion of each of their stables"; in addition, other prominent trainers Kiaran McLaughlin & Todd Pletcher "are returning with the same number of stalls" (31 & 39 respectively). With Monmouth's 1,600 stalls filled & a waiting list "for others hoping to get in", Monmouth racing secretary Mike Dempsey enthused: "The big guys wanted to have a division here. There's been increased interest from the whole country. We're giving away a lot of money every day."