Monmouth Seeks Approval for 75 Racing Dates

The New Jersey THA proposes to run 10 all-turf programs at Meadowlands in 2012.

Monmouth Park, expected to be under lease to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, proposes to begin its live meet May 12 and offer 75 days of racing, 10 of them all-turf programs at Meadowlands.

The schedule is subject to approval from the New Jersey Racing Commission.

The New Jersey THA and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority have come to terms on the Monmouth lease, but the horsemen’s group probably won’t take the helm until May, officials said March 8. The NJSEA continues to operate Monmouth for daily full-card simulcasts.

Monmouth will primarily race three days a week—Fridays through Sundays—as it has the past two years. For the first three weeks racing will be offered on Saturdays and Sundays only; Fridays will be added June 1.

Thursdays will be added in August in an experiment with twilight racing that will begin at 4 p.m. EDT, officials said. From Sept. 8-Oct. 7, Monmouth will race Saturdays and Sundays.

Meadowlands, now devoted to harness racing under the direction of lessee Jeff Gural, will actually offer Thoroughbred racing before Monmouth this year. Programs on the seven-furlong grass course are scheduled for May 4-5; post times weren’t released.

Meadowlands will then offer another eight all-turf programs in the fall—Fridays and Saturdays from Oct. 12-Nov. 3.

“We’re taking what we know worked in the past and coupling it with some new and innovative ideas,” New Jersey THA president John Forbes said in a statement. “It will no longer be business as usual at Monmouth Park. We will not shy from new ideas and events that we hope prove popular with fans and horsemen alike.

“Our 2012 schedule is the first step in ensuring Monmouth Park’s prominence within the racing industry as we strive to enhance our simulcast appeal, develop a more fan-friendly atmosphere, and provide all patrons with world-class Thoroughbred racing.”

A release noted that Dennis Drazin and Bob Kulina are executives with Monmouth’s new management company. Kulina had managed Monmouth for the NJSEA; Drazin, a prominent New Jersey attorney and Thoroughbred owner and breeder, most recently was chairman of the NJRC and in the past has represented the New Jersey THA.

If the schedule is approved, the New Jersey Thoroughbred season will begin with eight all-turf programs. Atlantic City Race Course will offer six days of live racing April 27-29 and May 1-3.

Meadowlands, which currently offers live harness racing three nights a week, has posted solid gains in attendance and pari-mutuel handle since the Gural group took over operations in January. Meadowlands last offered Thoroughbred racing in 2009.