Officials from Breeders' Cup Ltd. were at Monmouth Park on Wednesday to assess the New Jersey racetrack's suitability as a future site for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
Damon Thayer, vice president-Breeders' Cup and event marketing, and Debbie Blair, director of ticket operations for Breeders' Cup toured the Oceanport track with New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority senior vice president Bruce Garland, and Monmouth vice president Bob Kulina.
"This is the first step in a long process," Thayer said.
A similar inspection is planned for Meadowlands, probably in September when the track is open for live Thoroughbred racing.
"I can tell you that I'm very impressed by Monmouth Park," Thayer said. "Both Monmouth and Meadowlands have an extremely talented management team that know how to handle a big day of racing."
On Aug. 5, the day of the Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I), Monmouth lured more than 47,000 patrons, a record for the facility. Meadowlands, which also has hosted more than 40,000 people for horse racing, expressed an interest in the first Breeders' Cup in 1984.
"Obviously, we're very interested in hosting the Breeders' Cup," said Kulina, who acknowledged the visit as a "very preliminary step."
Racetracks must be members of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association in order to host the championship. NTRA officials said recently that negotiations are ongoing with the NJSEA, which left the NTRA fold late last year.
Breeders' Cup officials have said tracks that never before hosted the championship will be eligible to do so in a few years. This summer, 0fficials visisted Lone Star Park in Texas to assess its suitability. Next year's event could be held at Arlington Park, which would be a first-time host if in fact a deal is sealed.