There is a buzz around Monmouth Park, which opens May 22 for an experimental meet during which purses will average about $1 million a day.
The 50-day spring/summer meet at the New Jersey racetrack could very well determine the future structure of racing in the state. Thoroughbred dates at two New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority tracks have been cut from 141 last year to 71 this year.
The schedule through Labor Day features daily purses that triple the $331,000 paid out last year. The $1 million a day in purse money will be the highest in North America and the most paid out over an extended meet at Monmouth.
Monmouth will race another 21 days beginning in September. Purses will average about $250,000 a day for that meet.
Monmouth will race Saturday and Sunday on the opening weekend before starting a three-day schedule (Friday through Sunday) except for holiday weekends. In the past, Monmouth raced five days every week in the summer.
“This is a game-changer, not just for racing in New Jersey, but for the entire region,” NJSEA president Dennis Robinson said May 18. “The longevity of the racing season is nearly identical to what it has been the past several years.
“With fewer dates and the highest purses in the country, we’re more than a little optimistic that significant gains in attendance, handle, and field size are quickly on the horizon.”
The top event of the meet is the $1-million Haskell Invitational for 3-year-olds Aug. 1. Track officials hope to lure Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Super Saver and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Lookin At Lucky.