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'A huge winner for New Jersey'
Thursday, October 13, 2016 - by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

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Ken Weingartner
Manalapan, NJ --- State Sen. Jennifer Beck visited two horse farms in Monmouth County on Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 12) while appealing to New Jersey voters to pass a referendum on November’s ballot that would amend the state’s constitution to permit the expansion of casino gaming to North Jersey.

If approved, two locations would be eligible for casinos, with Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural pushing for his racetrack to receive one of the licenses.

But opposition to the referendum, fueled largely by television and radio advertisements attacking the expansion, has grown in recent months. Support for the referendum has dropped below 40 percent according to polls.

State Sen. Jennifer Beck (in red coat) visited Boxwood Farm in Monmouth County on Wednesday afternoon.

Sen. Beck, a Republican whose district represents parts of Monmouth County, including Freehold Borough and Freehold Township, visited Hunter’s Run Farm in Wall Township and Boxwood Farm in Manalapan. Boxwood Farm, owned by Taylor Palmer Jr. and managed by his son Chuck, is a Standardbred breeding farm. The farm has been in the Palmer family for five generations.

“The No. 1 thing that residents should know is that the negative ads are being funded by New York and Pennsylvania casinos,” Sen. Beck said. “They want to prevent us from winning back the billions in dollars we’ve lost in revenue to the 34 casinos that have amassed on New Jersey’s borders and stolen our jobs and economic activity.

“If it passes, you’re going to see a billion dollars of investment, you’re going to see 43,000 new jobs generated, you’re going to see hundreds of millions of dollars being generated for property tax relief, senior citizens, people with physical challenges and a tiny portion, but important portion, going back to the agricultural community and equine industry. This is a huge winner for New Jersey.”

Proponents of expansion cite figures from the Casino Revenue Fund Advisory Commission stating New Jersey has lost $1.8 billion in gaming revenue since 2006. The new casinos would provide an economic boost as well as assistance to the horseracing industry.

USTA/Ken Weingartner photo
Sen. Beck visited some of the Standardbreds at Boxwood Farm.

“It will allow this billion-dollar industry to survive,” Sen. Beck said of the state’s equine industry. “Barring the passage of this referendum, I think you can expect to see our racetracks not survive too much longer. For Monmouth County, we have so many horse farms and so much open space that is directly related to the equine industry that you will see a complete face change of this county.

“We don’t have the resources to preserve all of these farms, it just doesn’t exist. You will clearly have an increase in development around Monmouth County. If you love the quality of life here, it’s going to change if this referendum doesn’t pass. By the way, that story is repeated in many areas across New Jersey. A quarter of all the open space we have in the state is related to the equine industry.”

Among those joining Sen. Beck on her visit to Boxwood Farm were Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey officer Mark Mullen, directors Anthony Perretti and Richard Meirs, and executive administrator Al Ochsner.

Boxwood Farm has been a Standardbred breeding facility since 1978 and the Palmer family has been involved in harness racing since the early 1900s. Taylor Palmer says the farm’s future as a breeding center is at stake in November’s vote.

“The whole state of New Jersey, unfortunately, has let us down,” an emotional Taylor Palmer said. “The business has been taken away from us, the money has been taken away from us; it’s all gone to other states. Our business has all gone to other states. We cannot compete.

“If something doesn’t happen this fall, we’ve lost the chance to do what we were here for. I have a couple trailers and we started trucking horses for other people, only to help supplement our income. I didn’t start this farm to truck horses, I started it to breed mares and foal babies and raise yearlings. And it’s not working. It has destroyed our business and I know others are in the same boat. I have sons and what’s left for them? Nothing. That’s where we’re at.”

For more about the importance of the referendum to the equine industry and beyond, visit Our Turn NJ and the SBOANJ. To view a news report on Sen. Beck's visit to Boxwood Farm from News 12 New Jersey, click here.

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