SBD/Issue 217/Events & Attractions

Baffert Given Cash, Plane Tickets To Bring War Emblem To NJ

The NJ Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA) will pay horse trainer Bob Baffert a "rare $50,000 appearance fee to bring" War Emblem to the Haskell Invitational this Sunday at Monmouth Park, according to Matthew Futterman of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. NJSEA President George Zoffinger said of the appearance fee: "It was a business decision. I'd do it for any trainer if they had the top horse of the year." Zoffinger added that Baffert "received the same $50,000 appearance fee last year" to bring Point Given to NJ. But NTRA Dir of Media Relations Eric Wing said that straight appearance fees "are uncommon in thoroughbred horse racing." Wing: "It's not the type of thing you hear about very often." Futterman notes nearly 50,000 people attended last year's race featuring Point Given, and Monmouth Park officials "hope War Emblem draws a similar crowd this year to help reverse what has been a disappointing season after the track posted its best season in more than a decade last year." Monmouth Park's daily attendance is down 7% and the average on-site handle — the amount of money bet at the track — has dropped 9%. Meanwhile, Baffert is getting married Saturday and "hadn't planned to make the Haskell the first leg of his honeymoon. As a result, the [NJSEA] also will give Baffert two round-trip airline tickets for his honeymoon as a wedding gift, although Baffert and his entourage are expected to come to [NJ] in a private jet." The NJSEA receives the tickets as part of its naming-rights deal with Continental Airlines (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8/1).

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