Horses prepare for opening day at Monmouth Park.

Horses prepare for opening day at Monmouth Park.

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

117 Entered for Monmouth's 12-Race Opener

Racing at New Jersey track begins May 11 and runs through Oct. 6.

Racing at Monmouth Park returns May 11 in Oceanport, N.J., with a 12-race program attracting a total of 117 entries.

Topping the day’s card is the $75,000 Decathlon Stakes for 3-year-olds and up, which features a field of eight, including E. Paul Robsham Stables’ Travelin Man.

A six-furlong dash, the Decathlon is the first of this year’s stakes events, which includes 16 graded races. The centerpiece of Monmouth’s summer will be the $1 million William Hill Haskell Invitational (gr. I), which has its 46th running July 28. Monmouth’s grade I turf race, the $500,000 United Nations Stakes, will be the highlight of the Fourth of July weekend when it’s renewed July 6.

Gates will open at 11:30 a.m. and first post is set for 12:50 p.m. every day except Haskell Day, when gates will open at 10 a.m. and first post will be noon. Closing day is Oct. 6.

Travelin Man, a 5-year-old by Trippi from the Gone West mare West Side Dancer, captured his last outing, the Sir Shackleton Stakes at Gulfstream Park March 30. The Todd Pletcher trainee has won five of 13 outings. Thirteen-time Monmouth riding champion Joe Bravo has the call.

This will be the second year that Monmouth will operate under the helm of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association at the direction of Darby Development, which optimistically looks to the future of horse racing in New Jersey.
"To say it's been a successful first year for us is an understatement," said Dennis Drazin, advisor to Darby Development and the NJTHA.  "We inherited a racetrack in turmoil and placed her on the path to prosperity.
"In just 12 months at the helm we've eliminated annual deficits, maintained world-class Thoroughbred racing without a casino purse supplement, and added to the fan-friendly atmosphere of the racetrack, which saw a 22% increase in attendance over the prior year."
In 2012 Monmouth added four large video boards on-track and  installed a 36-hole miniature golf course, a new caterer, and additional group areas.
"Last year was just the beginning," Drazin said.  "The near future will see the finalization of a lease agreement to build a new OTB, an on-site concert venue, a boardwalk, and a new restaurant near the miniature golf course.
"The long-term will continue to focus on alternative revenue streams, both gaming and non-gaming, as well as marketing initiatives that attract racing fans and newcomers, alike."
New for 2013 is Betfair/TVG's operation of, which has seen more than 1,000 new subscribers, and handle numbers that are 47% higher than the year prior. In addition, TVG will be on-track at Monmouth for live coverage of the entire 2013 racing season.