the New Jersey Sire Stakes, a program
established in 1971 that offers purses
to winning standardbreds sired by
SBOANJ-registered New Jersey stallions. Unsurprisingly, similar pools in
New York and Pennsylvania dwarf New
Jersey’s Sire Stakes pool. In 2015, New
Jersey could offer only $2.4 million in
state-restricted race purses. New York
had $13.7 million up for grabs, and Pennsylvania offered a whopping $16 million
to Pennsylvania-bred horses.
“If the Sire Stakes got enough money
in the program,” says Perretti, “the people
with stallions and mares will be coming
back to the state. I mean, right now it’s
disastrous what we’re dealing with.”
The dire financial state of the Sire
Stakes is the reason the owners of
Hanover Shoe Farms shut down their
New Jersey satellite farm. Hanover Shoe
Farms sits on nearly 2,500 acres in Ha-
nover, Pennsylvania, and houses close to
1,000 horses. The operation maintained
a satellite farm in Lambertville until December 2011. However, as the Sire Stakes
purses shrank, the costs of operating in
Lambertville outweighed the benefits of
breeding New Jersey-eligible foals.
“At one point it was lucrative to have
New Jersey Sire Stakes horses,” says
Patti Murphy, assistant manager at Ha-
nover Shoe Farms. She says the econom-
ics can still change. “We would probably
breed to the stallions if there were good
stallions in New Jersey.”
In fact, more stallions are expected to
come to New Jersey if the referendum
is passed. Already, Rock N Roll Heaven,
by his owner to Deo Volente Farms to
stand at stud after spending the past
four years at Blue Chip Farms in New
York. “The owner said to me, ‘I want
him to go to New Jersey because I think
something good is going to happen in
New Jersey,’” says Gulotta.
Gulotta is doing all he can to make
sure the stallions keep coming. As
chairman of the SBOANJ Breeder’s
Committee, Gulotta was instrumental in
the creation of the Breeder’s Incentive
Program, designed to boost breeding to
New Jersey stallions. For the 2016 breeding season, those who breed to a New
Jersey stallion will receive a 25 percent
rebate of the stud fee up to $1,500 after
the foal is born. Gulotta says the program
was founded on faith that November’s
referendum will pass.
“The money’s not coming from the
casinos or video gaming yet—it’s going
to—but people tend not to act on what’s
going to happen. So we have this program
to incentivize,” explains Gulotta. “Once
the referendum is passed, we’ll need it
less. It’s like a bridge that we’ve created.
It can be viewed as foundational. It can
be built upon to put New Jersey in a more
For now, the racing industry can
only speculate about how much annual
revenue two casinos in northern New
Jersey would generate. “I’ve had ranges
anywhere from $10 million to $15 million
that could potentially be available for
distribution,” says Assemblyman Dancer.
Such speculation is based on combined
revenue for the two casinos of $1 billion
per year and not less
than 2 percent of the
new tax revenue going
to horse racing. That
speculation is in line
with the state Sen-
ate Minority Office’s
revenue projection for
the would-be casinos
of $600 million to $1.5
billion per year.
Since the amendment requires bidders to pledge at least $1 billion, the two
new casinos can be expected to look
more like Atlantic City’s extravagant
Borgata casino and spa rather than
a small racino with a handful of slot
machines. Borgata, Atlantic City’s most
successful casino by far, raked in $696
million in 2015.
But would $10 million to $15 million
be enough to turn around the horse-racing industry?
Perretti estimates the industry needs
more like $60 million to $100 million.
That would increase the size of New Jersey purses, which in turn would increase
the number of race days and make the
state more attractive to breeders.
Should the amendment be approved in
November, it will likely be several years
before the effects are felt by the harness-racing industry. By then, the industry will
likely look different than in past decades.
“The mom-and-pops, where they
have half a dozen mares and stuff, those
operations aren’t around anymore,” says
It’s unlikely those small farms will
ever come back, predicts Gulotta. In that
scenario, his Deo Volente Farms would
be a big winner.
“If the referendum passes, forget it,”
says Gulotta. “Everyone’s going to want
to bring their stallion to New Jersey, and
where are they going to go?”
Gulotta’s answer: Deo Volente Farms.
But it all hinges on November 8.
New Jersey native Katie Greifeld is a
reporter based in New York City.
GROOMED TO WIN
Deo Volente Farms’ operations assistant Angel Tena
Jacuinde tends to Tae Kwon
Deo, a yearling sired by
Muscle Hill, a prized trotter
based at Southwind Farms