Hurricane Irene preparation at Monmouth Park.

Hurricane Irene preparation at Monmouth Park.

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Monmouth Sustains Only Minor Storm Damage

More than 250 backstretch workers were housed in the track's grandstand.

Monmouth Park dodged serious damage during the worst of Hurricane Irene, which hit New Jersey and caused evacuations, road closures, and flooding.

Live racing was canceled Aug. 27-28. Though fallout from the storm continues, Monmouth was able to open for full-card simulcasts Aug. 29.

“We were extremely lucky,” Monmouth vice president and general manager Bob Kulina said. “A couple of downed trees and some branches, but that’s it. Our preparations and the great work of the staff here led to little damage to our property and the safety of everyone that calls Monmouth Park home.”

The preparations included setting up the grandstand as a shelter for backstretch workers. Anyone who resided in barns one through six were forced to evacuate in advance of the storm, while all other backstretch residents were under a voluntary evacuation.

The detention barn was to be used for horses whose stalls may have flooded, but no horse had to be moved as a result of Irene. In addition, the movement of more than 100 umbrella tables that dot the picnic area, as well as hundreds of televisions being covered or moved, helped to minimize or eliminate potential damage.

“There were 250 plus backstretch workers that came over to the grandstand,” Kulina said. "The food that would have fed the groups here on Saturday was instead used to feed those who weathered the storm in the grandstand.”

The racetrack was closed for training Aug. 29 morning to ensure that all debris was removed. Training was scheduled to resume Aug. 30.

Live racing will resume as scheduled Sept. 2 for four days of racing over Labor Day weekend.