March 26, 2020
Dear Owners/Staking Agents,
After careful and extensive consideration, the Hambletonian Society, in conjunction with Meadowlands, The Red Mile, Little Brown Jug Society and other industry clients, partners and stakeholders, have concluded that the April 15 payment deadline for stake and early-closers will remain intact.
All entities fully realize that all members of the racing community are in the midst of extremely difficult and unprecedented circumstances on a global level.
We are also aware that financial resources for many people will be stretched and staking horses is not going to be a priority.
The staking of horses has always represented a long term investment – from yearling payments to entrance fees, they accompany every horse through the span of the payments, enhance the value of every “staked” horse, and the final number of paid-in (eligible) horses, along with added money from the stake sponsor, determines the value of each stake race.
“The Hambletonian Society’s 95-year mission statement of promoting stakes event and the Standardbred breed means we remain committed to flexibility in scheduling, placing and moving races if necessary, in partnership with stake sponsors and host tracks,” said Hambletonian Society president John Campbell.
“We want all owners who have paid into races to stay in the event so they share in the accumulated value to date either by eventually racing or being refunded as the owner at time of cancellation.”
The racing conditions and payment schedule for each event that are printed and posted are a contract between the owners of each horse and the Stake Sponsor. To change this contract would alter this legal agreement and could be challenged in court as a breach of contract.
The Hambletonian Society would like to reinforce our policy that when any Stake or early-closer is canceled [see below] any staking fee will be refunded to the owner of the horse at time of cancellation.
CANCELLATION: The Sponsor further reserves the right to cancel either or both of the races if for reasons beyond its control it becomes impractical or undesirable in the opinion of the Sponsor to conduct said race or races. If an event is not raced due to circumstances beyond its control, the Sponsor's responsibility and liability will be limited to refunding without interest: nomination, sustaining and entrance fees collected toward canceled events that have not been disbursed at the time of cancellation. If canceled after the first 2-year-old payment, these monies will be prorated among the owners of the horses eligible at the time of cancellation. If canceled prior to the first 2-year-old payment, the nomination fees will be refunded to the nominators.
Since 2009, the Hambletonian Society has successfully refunded to individual nominators and owners more than $700,000 in payments from canceled races. Most recently, the Art Rooney and Lismore were canceled by Yonkers Raceway in late 2019, and all monies for two and three-year-olds eligible at time of cancellation were refunded to owners within 30 days of cancellation.
Stake sponsors and host tracks have currently closed February payments for the stakes they service with that deadline, and are finalizing March 15 payments.
The racing season and stakes calendar is unknown at this time and it is possible that Stakes may be canceled and others moved and rescheduled [see below.] Our conditions allow for and are clear that dates and venues may be changed.
Definite dates will be published in the U.S.T.A. Stakes Guide in the year of the races. If for any reason it becomes impractical or undesirable, in the opinion of the Sponsor, to hold this race at the Track designated, the Sponsor reserves the right to change the date and/or the location of the Track for either any or all races.
As soon as racing does resume we all will make every effort to hold as many Stakes and early-closers that we service as possible, and will be involved in rescheduling, moving races and setting up schedules that are in the best interests of everyone involved.
We realize that Stake payment decisions may be difficult and will be a hardship for many people, but we request that everyone be cognizant of our obligations.
*Accepting credit card payments for staking fees was instituted by the Hambletonian Society this year through a secure PNC bank platform. Should any race be canceled, all collected payments, regardless of method, will be refunded in total, to the owner at time of cancellation.