Monmouth Purses Down at Least 40%

As expected purses won't be nearly as high as they were last year at Monmouth Park.

As expected, purses won’t be nearly as high as they were last year when Monmouth Park begins its 2011 meet May 14.

The New Jersey racetrack posted its first condition book April 8. Maiden special weight events will go for $45,000 and entry-level allowance races for $50,000. The minimum purse is $14,000 for $10,000 maiden claimers.

Last year, which featured a 50-day “elite meet” followed by a 21-day meet in late summer and fall, purses were supplemented with about $20 million from the state’s casinos. Also, Thoroughbred dates were cut in half from the 141 offered in 2009, the last year Meadowlands offered Thoroughbred racing.

The 2010 meet opened with $75,000 maiden special weight purses and $80,000 entry-level allowance purses. Thus, purses this year, for those two conditions at least, are down 35%-40%.

In 2009, maiden special weight races went for $38,000 and entry-level allowance events for $41,000.

As of now this year’s meet is scheduled for 141 days as mandated by law. However, with a private operator being selected to lease Monmouth for the next five years, it’s possible the live racing schedule as well as purses in subsequent condition books could change.

The primary part of the 2011 stakes schedule was released earlier this year.

Published reports in New Jersey newspapers indicate developer Morris Bailey, who owns racehorses, is the front-runner to obtain the lease. He is a native of Atlantic City, N.J., and last year purchased the city's first casino, Resorts, with a partner.

The stable area at the central New Jersey track opens April 18, with training to commence later that week. In May, racing will be offered Saturdays, Sundays, and Monday, Memorial Day; thereafter the schedule expands to five days a week pending changes.