Report: Monmouth Park Lease in Jeopardy

A New Jersey newspaper reported Dec. 7 the state and horsemen are at odds.

Less than two days past the deadline to finalize a lease agreement for Monmouth Park, negotiations have ended because of a dispute between horsemen and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates the racetrack.

The Asbury Park Press reported Dec. 7 that the administration of Republican Gov. Chris Christie ended the talks. The newspaper said the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association agreed in June it would absorb the Thoroughbred racing license reserved for Meadowlands, but now the state is backing away.

“They’ve spent months backing away from the agreement,” New Jersey THA president John Forbes told the Press. “I guess they figured if we wanted that license, it must be worth something.”

Efforts to lease Monmouth and Meadowlands to private operators have been problematic at best. The latest roadblock doesn’t even involve Morris Bailey, the casino owner who is prepared to take over Monmouth.

The Meadowlands Thoroughbred license was used this year to tack on six days to the Monmouth meet that ended in November. Developer Jeff Gural, who is wrapping up his deal to lease Meadowlands, has no intention of offering anything but harness racing there; he plans to start construction on a new, smaller grandstand in 2012.

The Press said Christie's office didn't respond to a request for comment.