October 8, 2009 The Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts held the 2008 Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet in an overflowing meeting room at Restaurant 45 on Sunday evening. Over sixty members and guests attended the meeting which was highlighted by a presentation given by Paul Verrette on the history of Harness Racing in
Sire Stake Finals Wrap Up
HEYITSONLYMONEY (M. Eaton) RC AUTHORITY (J. Hogan)
Two sweeps in the Three Year Old class and one in the Two Year Old class capped off the 2009 Massachusetts Sire Stake action at Plainridge Racecoure. HEYITSONLYMONEY and RC AUTHORITY swept their rivals in the Colt Pacing and Colt Trotting divisions, while FAST GUY proved he was the fastest guy in the Two Year Old Colt Pace.
AL'S BABY GIRL (J. Beckwith)
RC CURIOSITY fresh of her track and stake record mile finished the season off taking the final for Three Year Old Trotting Fillies and AL'S BABY GIRL won her second stake of the season taking the final for Three Year Old Pacing Fillies.
PIONEER VALLET (D. Daley) NATIVE BOMBSHELL (J. Hardy)
PIONEER VALLEY, FIRST TAIL U SEE and NATIVE BOMBSHELL were all perfect in three stake starts taking their respective freshman finals for Two Year Old Trotting Colts, Fillies and Pacing Fillies.
BUDGET AND POLITICS HAVE CHANGED, BUT DIVISIONS REMAIN ON EXPANDED GAMBLING
By Michael Norton and Kyle Cheney
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, OCT. 29, 2009…...Proponents and opponents of expanded gambling squared off again for more than six hours Thursday, reprising arguments for and against casinos and slot machines, but in an atmosphere that’s changed considerably from the last legislative session.
Expanded gambling proponents, sensing support at the highest levels of state government, said worsening budget problems and rising unemployment are key reasons for lawmakers to reassess gambling options. Senate Majority Whip Joan Menard urged the Economic Development Committee to generate a bill in time for a vote in January. Critics warned lawmakers that casinos will suck money out of the economy and feed addictive habits that can ruin lives and break apart families.
While Gov. Deval Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray have supported expanded gambling, the key shift on the issue has come in the House, where new Speaker Robert DeLeo wants racetrack slot machines and casinos while his predecessor, Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, led efforts last year to kill expanded gambling plans.
House Chairman of the Economic Development Committee, Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill), said the committee was "working hard" to have a bill ready by January.
"There’s certainly a lot of questions we need to answer in terms of, again, the number, how tracks fit into this," he said. "There are a host of questions we’re going through and have been going through for months."
Sen. Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), Dempsey's co-chair, was less specific about the timeframe, saying, "My primary focus is, if we're are going to go down this path, we need to make sure we get it right."
PLAINRIDGE PREZ TOUTS MASS. ROOTS | Gary Piontkowski, the first person to sign up to testify and the president of Plainridge Racecourse, said he supports Sen. Michael Morrissey’s bill to expand gambling and to assist racetracks. Noting the large commercial venues near Plainridge, he called the track the “gatekeeper to Rhode Island.” Fifteen of the 16 track shareholders are Bay State natives, he said. There are 72 horse barns in Massachusetts that are economically supported by Plainridge, he said, and represent thousands of protected acres. He said “our industry is threatened” by an unlevel playing field and smaller purses due to competition from out-of-state casinos. He said a site with 2,000 to 2,500 slot machines would produce about $170 million in gross revenue for the state, as well as 1,000 permanent jobs at existing gambling venues. An expanded venue at Plainridge, could be up in months, he said, rather than years, prompting Sen. Tucker to say she has a list of 28 things that need to be done before a slot machine could be turned on. Disputing the assertion about getting slots up quickly, Tucker said, “It’s never happened and it never will.” Piontkowski said an Indiana facility got up and running in 113 days.
HORSE BREEDERS SEE STAKE IN EXPANDED GAMBLING: Horse breeders told lawmakers Thursday that the prospect of “racinos” – slot parlors or other forms of expanded gambling at racetracks – could be a boon to the racing industry. “The breeding industry sustains breed space and open land,” said Edward Nowack, president of the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts. “The breeding of horses is an income-generating industry, not merely a pastime or a hobby ... The addition of racinos to the raceracks will go a long way to developing this economic opportunity.”
Speaker DeLeo tells Governor
"Slots at the tracks first"
click here for video from WBZ-TV
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Massachusetts House of Representatives confirms Robert DeLeo as new Speaker
BOSTON - Newly elected House Speaker Robert DeLeo says it will take the personal integrity of every lawmaker to restore and maintain faith in government. He addressed his House colleagues Wednesday after they voted 137-16 to install the Winthrop Democrat to the powerful post.
DeLeo takes over after the resignation of Salvatore DiMasi, who left the House on Tuesday amid ethics questions. DeLeo said he would work to pass ethics, pension, lobbying and transportation reforms and ease the burden of Massachusetts residents during the recession. House Democrats backed DeLeo by a unanimous voice vote during a caucus earlier Wednesday. Representative DeLeo has supported expanding the gaming capabilities at the state's racetracks to generate much needed revenue for the commonwealth, which in turn will help the horsemen and breeders.
Governor Duval Patrick while congratulating DeLeo on his appointment as Speaker was asked about reviving his casino gambling proposal which former Speaker DiMasi blocked. "I think what I said was I like slots at race tracks I said first of all then we can have the casino debate," DeLeo said laughingly to which the Governor replied, "Let the games begin."
Watch Racino Presentation from Plainridge on Sunday 1/25/09
Monday, January 26, 2009
PLAINRIDGE GETS A BOOST
Stanley F. Bergstein
Harness Tracks of America - Executive Newsletter
Good luck walks in back doors as well as front, and may have done so again in Massachusetts. As Gary Piontkowski, president of HTA member Plainridge Racecourse, was holding a public meeting on racinos at his track yesterday amidst local officials, employees, horsemen and breeders, Boston newspapers were full of news about the resignation of Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi, embroiled in a scandal over alleged payments to help friends get favorable legislation passed. DiMasi was a key figure in the battle for slots in the Bay State, and his departure could help the state’s four tracks in their quest for slots. DiMasi becomes the third consecutive House Speaker to resign under a heavy cloud. Howie Carr, a columnist for the Boston Herald, treated the resignation with sarcastic humor. Commenting on DiMasi’s statement that he was framed, the victim of acts by “certain people who are very powerful,” Carr wrote, “Those people are more commonly known as authorities. As DiMasi now knows to his deep chagrin, nobody nowadays is willing to take a fall for anybody else....When you have to worry about one guy rolling over, you’ve got a problem. When you have to worry about two guys dummying up, you’ve got a big problem. When you’re sweating whether three guys will stand up, it’s time to write a letter that begins, ‘To the Honorable Members of the House of Representatives.’” DiMasi wrote that letter over the weekend, and will leave the House after four terms as Speaker tomorrow night. Commenting on the three straight resignations under charges of wrongdoing, Carr wrote, “Let’s go for four ina row. The old corrupt speaker is dead, long live the new corrupt speaker.”In making his renewed pitch for slots, Gary Piontkowski has the support of two Republican legislators representing Plainridge’s district. Rep. Richard Ross of Wrentham and State Senator Scott Brown, both are strong supporters of slots for the track.
Letter from the President
click here to read
2008 Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet
photo by Bob Lieberman
Board of Directors at the 2008 Annual Meeting, from left; Paul Vacca, President Ed Nowak, Vice President Jim Hardy, Secretary/Treasurer Nancy Longobardi, Frank Dubreuil and Bonnie Rush
The evening began with a social hour as members and guests mingled before President Ed Nowak called the meeting to order. In Nowak’s comments he touched on the large volume of traffic the new website has produced and that the website has become a valuable tool for all involved in the program. He assured everyone the site would be kept as current as possible and urged everyone to continue using the site. Ed then touched on next years race dates and told the membership the board of directors is committed to announcing race dates as early as possible and this would be taken up at their next meeting and dates would be announced shortly.
Next point of interest was the budget amendment filed this past legislative season that would have essentially killed the Standardbred Breeding Program in
The membership was introduced to State Representative Richard Ross of the Ninth Norfolk District, a special guest speaker who briefed the membership on his ongoing efforts to keep harness racing uppermost in the minds of lawmakers. Ross vowed to continue to push for slot machines at the racetracks. Representative Ross mingled with the membership and talked to many attendees during the evening.
The membership also heard from Maryanne Lewis, Esq., a strategy consultant to the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts, Inc., she gave members an update on the changing times and issues on Beacon Hill and also noted that harness racing is a plus to the state of
In other business, Nancy Longobardi and Paul Vacca were reelected to three-year terms.
After dinner, members and guests were treated to a historic presentation by Plainridge race secretary, Paul Verrette. The presentation was titled, "When Massachusetts was the Hub of Harness Racing." Paul pointed to the Jan. 12, 1896 edition of New York Times, and an article that read, in part, that "Boston is more truly the Hub of the Sulkies, than of the Universe," and that Readville Trotting Park, near Boston, was the site of not only the first sub 2:00 pacing mile, by Star Pointer, on Aug. 24, 1897, but also in 1903 Lou Dillon trotted a mile in 2:00, making her the fastest trotter in the world.
Four Stake Records were set in 2008 and each was given an award to recognize those accomplishments. The evening culminated with the 2008 Two Year Old and Three Year Old Sire Stake Champion Awards and a membership raffle. The grand prize in the raffle was a new featherweight harness and it was won by Marc Bouthillier.
The Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts held the 2008 Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet in an overflowing meeting room at Restaurant 45 on Sunday evening. Over sixty members and guests attended the meeting which was highlighted by a presentation given by Paul Verrette on the history of Harness Racing in