Hearing Officer Upholds Monmouth Park Lease

Hialeah Park owner John Brunetti, through attorneys, indicated he will appeal.

The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority has accepted a hearing officer’s recommendation that the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association retain control of Monmouth Park.

The New Jersey THA was awarded the Monmouth lease earlier this year. The NJSEA had been ordered by Republican Gov. Chris Christie to get out of the horse racing business and privatize its two tracks.

The Meadowlands is being leased by a group led by developer and racetrack casino owner Jeff Gural.

The Star-Ledger of New Jersey reported April 20 that, after the hearing, attorneys for Hialeah Park owner John Brunetti, who challenged the lease to the New Jersey THA, would appeal the ruling. Monmouth is scheduled to begin its 2012 meet May 12.

The situation blew up when Brunetti and the New Jersey THA charged each other with making campaign contributions that would disqualify them from leasing Monmouth. Brunetti was among those interested in the track early on in the process.

Christie approved the ruling soon after the NJSEA's action April 20, the Star-Ledger reported.