Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Monmouth Meet: Down From 2010, Up From 2009

Officials didn't count last year's Elite Meet for business comparison purposes.

Business at Monmouth Park this year expectedly dropped after what appears to be a one-time “Elite Meet” last year, but average daily figures were still much higher than those recorded for the comparable 2009 meet.

The 71-day 2011 meet at the New Jersey racetrack ended Nov. 6, though there will be six more days of racing from Nov. 11-20 under the “Meadowlands at Monmouth” banner. The extra days were made official Nov. 9.

Monmouth officials reported Nov. 10 that average daily pari-mutuel handle on live racing was $4,695,424 this year versus $3,148,339 in 2009. The track, however, raced 93 days in 2009.

Average daily ontrack handle on live races this year was $490,999, up 19.9% from $409,384 in 2009. Attendance this year averaged 7,574 people per day, up 9% from 6,949 in 2009.

In 2011 handle on Monmouth races totaled $33,375,086, with a little more than 10% of it wagered at Monmouth.

“Those are impressive figures that show the continued strength of Monmouth Park in the racing industry,” said Dennis Robinson, president and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates Monmouth but is attempting to finalize a lease agreement with casino owner Morris Bailey. “With last year’s Elite Meet an anomaly, it’s only fair to compare these numbers to the 2009 season. When doing so, Monmouth showed significant gains across the board.”

In 2010 for 71 days, 50 of which featured higher purses, Monmouth offered the highest average purse payout in the United States. Average daily total handle was $6,723,225 over the full season, with average daily attendance of 8,676.

Purses at Monmouth have been on a rollercoaster ride the past three years, primarily because of a $30 million purse supplement used last year. There are no more supplements from the state.

This year purses averaged $448,356, down significantly from $682,686 in 2010 but way up from $356,322 in 2009, according to figures from The Jockey Club Information Systems.

Field size basically tracked purses. The average number of horses per race in 2011 was 7.85, down from 9.14 for the Elite Meet but up from 7.44 in 2009, according to TJCIS.

Meanwhile, Jane Cibelli became the first woman to win a training title at Monmouth with 32 winners over 71 days. Elvis Trujillo was leading jockey with 126 winners, and George and Lori Hall were leading owner with 18 victories. Their horses are trained by Kelly Breen.