Thoroughbred racing dates in New Jersey in 2014 will resemble those awarded for this year, with one shift in the schedule.
The New Jersey Racing Commission Nov. 20 awarded 77 Thoroughbred racing days for 2014 at three tracks–Monmouth Park, New Meadowlands, and Atlantic City Race Course–from April 24 through Oct. 18. New Meadowlands and Atlantic City will offer only turf racing.
Monmouth was approved for 57 racing days from May 10-Sept. 28, four less than this year. But those four days will move to New Meadowlands, will offer 14 racing programs from Sept. 18-Oct. 18.
Mike Musto, executive director of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, which operates the Monmouth meet in partnership with Darby Development, said horsemen prefer the fall turf meet be held at night. For the past several years racing has been held in the afternoon at New Meadowlands.
"(Owner Jeff Gural) knows we intend to race under the lights," Musto said.
New Meadowlands director of operations Darin Zoccali said Gural "was prepared for the request and is ready to accommodate (night racing)."
Atlantic City officials earlier this year said they hoped to race up to 10 days in 2014, but that's not the case. The southern New Jersey track was approved for six days from April 24-30.
"Unfortunately, that's the maximum number of dates we can run at our current purse levels," Atlantic City representative Bruce Garland said. "Had we been afforded purse supplement money, we could have run more days. Should that occur we would consider (adding racing days)."
Current law requires 141 Thoroughbred racing days each year in New Jersey unless the horsemen's group agrees to fewer days, which it has for years.
Meanwhile, the NJRC approved a combined 191 Standardbred racing dates for 2014. Freehold Raceway will race 110 days over two meets (Jan. 2-May 17 and Aug. 28-Dec. 31), while New Meadowlands requested 81 days over two meets (Jan. 2-Aug. 2 and Nov. 14-Dec. 27).
The Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey signed off on the harness dates.
NJRC executive director Frank Zanzuccki acknowledged New Jersey again does not have year-round racing for Thoroughbreds, but given the circumstances, the schedule "provides for reasonable continuity of racing" and will "help the state retain a competitive position in regard to neighboring states (in which purses are supported by gaming revenue)."