Monmouth Park concluded its 2012 meet on Sunday with an increase in attendance and declines in on-track and total handle.
"Given all the uncertainty that surrounded this meet from the beginning, I'm happy we were able to conduct a 2012 racing season," said Dennis Drazin, advisor to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (NJTHA) and Darby Development LLC, operator of Monmouth Park Racetrack.
"Back in April it didn't look like there would be a 2012 Monmouth meet and to be able to maintain the purse levels we did and increase the number of visitors to the racetrack, I would say our season was a success."
For the 65-day meet, which ran from May 12 through Sunday, the average attendance was 8,403, a 10.9 percent increase over last year's average of 7,574. On-track wagering came in at $30,617,780 for an average of $471,043. Last season, the Oceanport, New Jersey, racetrack showed on-track average handle of $490,999. Average daily all-source wagering on Monmouth in 2012 was $4,060,335, a 13.5 percent decrease over the $4,695,424 averaged during the 71 days in 2011.
"Based on what we knew coming into this meet, we anticipated a drop in our handle numbers," Drazin said. "This was our first meet at the helm and it should provide a good starting point to build on in the future."
On May 4, the NJTHA entered into an agreement with the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA) to lease Monmouth Park for five years, with a horsemen's option for three 10-year extensions. The NJSEA had operated Monmouth Park since 1986.
"We have now put a punctuation mark at the end of the era of uncertainty and will move forward with our plans to revitalize Monmouth Park," Drazin said.
"Expanded gaming opportunities, new family entertainment and continued world-class Thoroughbred racing will be the cornerstones of our future. No idea will be too small and no goal too big to reach. We're committed to our fans, the racetrack, the community and our horsemen to build a Monmouth Park which provides entertainment at the Jersey Shore that is second-to-none."
Prior to opening the 2012 racing season, the NJTHA installed four large-screen video boards at the racetrack and welcomed a new on-track caterer. In addition, just last week, Bluegrass miniature golf, located at the north end of the Monmouth Park property, opened for business.
"These projects were the results of vision and hard work by all interested parties," Drazin added. "But it's really just the tip of the iceberg of what the future holds here. Not only are we excited about the opportunity to operate Monmouth Park, but more importantly committed to continuing the tradition of Thoroughbred racing while building a more vibrant entertainment destination for locals and Shore-goers, alike."
Taking home meet-end honors were Elvis Trujillo, who piloted 110 winners during the meet. It was Trujillo's third overall title and second in a row following his victories in 2009 and 2011.
Jane Cibelli, who made Monmouth Park history last year by becoming the first female to win the training championship, successfully defended her title, winning 30 races this year. Patricia Generazio, whose charges visited the winner's circle 17 times, was the meet's leading owner.
Live Thoroughbred racing in New Jersey shifts north to the Meadowlands in East Rutherford for eight all-turf cards beginning on Friday. Racing at The Big M will be Fridays and Saturdays through November 3, with a first post of 2:15 p.m. (EDT).