After eight months of work, officials announced Friday that the new Monmouth Park turf will be ready to go in time for its scheduled debut on June 24.
"It's a big project that will yield even bigger rewards," said Dennis Dowd, senior vice president of racing for the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority. "Top quality turf racing always attracts top runners and bigger fields, which translates to more competitive racing and larger wagering pools."The turf course and the entire new infield, which will get new plantings later this year, are just the beginning of a long line of improvements that will be in place prior to the Breeders' Cup next Fall."
The new turf course, at a cost of $4.5 million, replaced the original Monmouth turf course that was installed in 1950. The new course is comprised of a mixture of tall type turf fescue and rye. It is 90 feet wide with two chutes, each approximately 100 feet wide.
The new course allows for four different rail settings – hedge, 12 feet, 24 feet, and 36 feet. The new course also has a second chute for five and five-and-a-half furlong races, the latter being a first for Monmouth Park.
"The banking on the course allows for the new rail settings," said Horace Smith, assistant vice president of operations at Monmouth Park. "With our new ability to move the rail even farther out than before, we'll be able to preserve the course much better than we were able to in the past."
Monmouth Park's second condition book, set for release in mid-May, contains the first turf race, an allowance for 3-year-olds and up.