New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority officials said they were pleased with the numbers for opening weekend—when compared with 2009 statistics and not those recorded last year for the “$50 million elite meet.”
Monmouth opened May 14 with attendance of 10,847, up 5.4% from opening day in 2009 but down 39.4% from 17,903. Pari-mutuel handle totaled $4,534,828, up 6% from 2009 but down 51.5% from $9,357,444 in 2010.
Ontrack handle for opening day was $700,796, up 5.4% from $664,930 in 2009. Total handle for the first two programs this year was $9,135,601, less than the total opening day handle in 2010.
Monmouth vice president and general manager Bob Kulina in a statement indicated NJSEA officials weren’t expecting anything close to 2010 given the hype leading up to that meet.
“No one went into (opening day) expecting to compete with last year’s Elite Summer Meet—that was not in the equation,” Kulina said. “What we did show today is that Monmouth Park is a top destination on the Jersey Shore, and an attractive wagering option from coast to coast.”
“We certainly exceeded all expectations,” Kulina said in reference to the comparisons with 2009. “To post increases over our 2009 numbers shows our product remains strong.”
The NJSEA expects to turn Monmouth over to lessee Morris Bailey June 1. Pending final agreements, officials said Monmouth would race 71 days this year with average daily purses of $400,000, second-highest amount in the history of the track.