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Monday, February 26, 2024

Racetracks hope to reopen in June, while meantime breeders' awards appear to be safe.

BENSALEM, Pa.--While Gov. Wolf has put off the start of beginning to open Pennsylvania until May 8, there is still hope that racetracks may reopen as soon as June 1.

Racing generic 2Meanwhile, it is believed that the Breeders' Awards, critical for Pennsylvania breeding, are politically safe as well as legally safe.

There are a couple of factors to consider when looking at the time of reopening racetracks, said Sal DeBunda, President of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association,

"The first factor is when will Gov. Wolf allow casinos and racetracks to open," said DeBunda. "Second is how long it will then take for the facilities to be ready for dealing with the current situation."

"I don't think that racetracks can open until the casinos are open,"said DeBunda. "We can run without patrons, but casinos can't."


DeBUNDA said he was in contact with Gov. Wolf through his lobbyists.

"I'm hoping for racetracks to open on June 1, but there's no indication that that's the case," said DeBunda."

"The Governor will determine when racetracks will reopen," said Brian Sanfratello, Executive Secretary of Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, adding that the horsemen's associations are the groups that work with Gov. Wolf towards that end, not the PHBA.

"We want racetracks to open as soon as possible," said Sanfratello. "This has most definitely affected breeding in this state."

"Before the covid 19 issue, we had contacted many of the legislators, and not too many of them were in favor of raiding the Race Horse Development Trust Fund," said Sanfratello. "If this covid 19 hadn't started, we'd have a better idea of where we stand. But basically, there didn't seem like the were many in favor of touching the Trust Fund."

We're still contacting legislators," said Sanfratello. "At some point they're going to have to address this. But the bottom line is that we make the case that this is a trust fund. In the wording of the Fund it says it's not the Commonwealth's money, and therefore the Commonwealth shall not be rightfully entitled to any money from the Racehorse Development Trust Fund."

People have contacted The Horse, worried that, if Democrats take over the legislature after the up-coming election that they could change the law that created the Trust Fund.

"They could change the law, but then we would go to court, and we feel confident that this would hold up in court," said Sanfratello. "Any time the Governor comes out and says he is going to take the money, there will always be people who are going to say, `Will the money be there.' We have addressed this in the past and will continue to address it in the future."

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