State officials and New Jersey horse racing industry leaders said March 8 they have reached an agreement to reduce the number of racing dates at Monmouth Park this summer but boost purses to $1 million a day, tops in the nation.
Under the agreement, Monmouth will conduct a 50-day meet, racing Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, plus three Monday holidays, from May -Sept. 11.
An official announcement is expected March 9. The plan was pushed by state officials despite concerns from some racing representatives.
The New Jersey legislature must approve the amended racing calendar.
The plan also calls for a 21-day fall meet at Monmouth with purses of about $250,000 a day. The fall Thoroughbred meet at Meadowlands would be eliminated.
Horsemen will lose about half of the 141 Thoroughbred dates allocated for 2010 under a contract between the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which owns Monmouth and Meadowlands, and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.
It wasn’t immediately known who negotiated on behalf of horsemen. There have been behind-the-scenes indications the plan was a directive from state government.
It remains to be seen whether business levels will support the new Monmouth racing structure. Total handle would probably have to double to support purses.