Track Officials Optimistic Despite Reduction in Racing at Monmouth Park
Live racing began at Monmouth Park last weekend, and A.P. Indian scored a repeat victory in the Saturday headliner winning the $75,000 Decathlon Stakes. The highlight of the 57-day meet which concludes September 25 will be the $1 million Haskell Invitational on July 31. Last year a Monmouth-record crowd of over 60,000 cheered home Triple Crown winner American Pharoah to victory in the Haskell Invitational.
Currently, about 800 horses are stabled at Monmouth. But a sign of the times has hit the Oceanport, NJ track. Monmouth officials cut $1.17 million from the stakes program and put the Grade II $200,000 Monmouth Stakes on a one-year hiatus. The Grade 1 United Nations has been reduced from $500,000 to $300,000, and they also eliminated eight non-graded stakes from this year’s stakes program. Overnight purses were cut about 8 percent.
Monmouth officials are optimistic about this year’s meet and the future of racing in New Jersey despite the cuts and increasing competition from other tracks in the region who can offer more purse money because they have alternative revenue streams. Monmouth is hoping for legalized casino gambling and sports betting statewide for a potential revenue stream in the near future.
“I can assure all of you, despite what you may read from time to time, Monmouth Park is here to stay. Racing will never die here in New Jersey,” said Dennis Drazin, an advisor to Darby Development LLC, the management company that operates Monmouth Park for the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “We believe it’s important to dedicate ourselves to future generations to preserve racing, and we want to continue to be world class here at Monmouth Park.”
Racing during May will take place on Saturdays and Sundays and on Memorial Day. The remainder of the meet will have racing Fridays-Sundays and Monday July 4, and Monday, Sept. 5, Labor Day, from June 3-Sept. 5 and Saturday’s and Sunday’s Sept. 10-25.