Negotiations regarding the lease of two New Jersey racetracks by private operators continued June 1, the date state officials had set to wrap up the transfers.
Republican Gov. Chris Christie has worked to get New Jersey out of the horse racing business by leasing Monmouth Park and Meadowlands. Though lessees have been selected—Morris Bailey for Monmouth and Jeff Gural for Meadowlands—loose ends must be tied up before the men take over operations from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.
Live racing dates for both tracks are set for this year, with Monmouth awarded 71 days for the meet that began May 14. Bailey and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association are still discussing specifics such as terms of a contract.
It’s not the first time deadlines in the lease process haven’t been met. Meadowlands, which now offers only harness racing and full-card simulcasts, almost shut down this spring but Christie granted Gural time to make a deal with unionized mutuel clerks.
Through May 30—seven days of racing—purses at Monmouth have averaged $473,771 per day, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems. Field size has averaged 7.95 horses per race.
In 2010, year of the “Elite Summer Meet” during which $1 million in purses, breed development, and other racing-related funds were paid out over 50 days, purses averaged $787,945 for the first seven days of the meet, with average field size of 9.13, according to TJCIS.
Monmouth officials have said 2011 numbers would be compared with those of 2009 given the unusual nature of the 2010 meet, which featured record purses and 120% growth in total handle from the previous year. Thus far purses are well above 2009 levels, and the second condition book keeps the funds intact.