Monmouth Park kicked off its 68th season of Thoroughbred racing May 11 with an enthusiastic crowd of 9,636 on hand despite monsoon-like weather. The New Jersey track reported a hefty increase in pari-mutuel handle over last year.
All-sources wagering soared on the first day of a 61-day meet, reaching $6,192,305. It was a gain of 29.8% from last year's handle on opening day.
"To post a 30% gain in handle is incredibly positive, and certainly bested any of our projections," said Bob Kulina, president of Darby Development, operator of Monmouth Park. "The weather didn't cooperate, but all things considered, we couldn't be happier. Last year provided us a good starting point to build on, and today's figures are hopefully just the beginning of across-the-board gains throughout the summer."
Rickman Racing's homebred Pass You Bye Bye rallied on the outside under Julian Pimentel, collared the leaders in deep stretch and drew off near the wire to win the $76,500 Decathlon Stakes by one length (VIDEO). He raced the six furlongs in a brisk 1:09 1/5 on a sealed track made sloppy by heavy afternoon downpours. The winner paid $8, $4, and $3.20 across the board.
Luckysdream, second choice in the wagering, finished second by a half-length over the 26-1 Diski Dance to complete the $27 exacta. Luckysdream paid $3.60 and $3.40, and Diski Dance paid $4.60 to show.
Travelin Man, the even-money favorite in the field of six, was off badly and failed to mount a sustained rally, finishing fourth.
Ron Alfano trains Pass You Bye Bye, a 4-year-old son of Rock Slide –Pie I'd (You and I) who has won three of five starts this year. The Decathlon was his first stakes victory and boosted his earnings to $135,790 on a career record of four wins and three seconds from eight starts.
"He is really a nice horse," Pimentel said. "He didn't care for the dirt coming at him, but once I got him into the clear, he was fine. Around the eighth pole, he really kicked in and that was it."
The Monmouth meet continues with live racing May 12, Mother’s Day. Through the month of May, live cards will be run on Saturdays and Sundays, plus a Monday Memorial Day card May 27.
Starting May 31 Monmouth will have live racing three days a week, Friday through Sunday. The 2013 meet goes through Oct. 6.