A New York real estate developer has signed a long-term deal that will ensure harness racing will continue at New Jersey's Meadowlands Racetrack.

Gov. Chris Christie announced the deal with Jeffrey Gural on Tuesday.

Gural owns Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs in upstate New York and two horse farms.

Christie has sought to end public subsidies of New Jersey's horse racing industry and have tracks run by private operators.

Gural, who signed a 30-year lease, said by email he was "looking forward to opening day (Jan. 6)." "Obviously I am relieved that we made (it) over the finish line," he said Tuesday.

Christie has sought to end public subsidies of New Jersey's horse racing industry and have the tracks run by private operators.

The state is still seeking a private operator for the Monmouth County track.

The Meadowlands was projected to lose $11 million this year, and Monmouth Park was projected to lose $6.6 million.

Final contracts to transfer both tracks to private owners had been slated for signature on Dec. 5, at which time control of Monmouth would have gone to casino owner Morris Bailey. But Bailey pulled out when negotiations between the thoroughbred association and the state broke down.

Christie, a Republican, said in a statement: "This has been an arduous process but one that I believe was necessary to ensure uninterrupted racing at Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands. At the same time, we are protecting the public interest and preserving jobs at both venues and in New Jersey's equine industry."

The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates both tracks, is scheduled to vote on the deals at a special meeting on Friday.

 

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)