Jersey Dates Approved But Expected to Change

New Jersey racing dates were approved but expected to change for 2011.

Racing dates for 2011 in the Garden State were awarded by the New Jersey Racing Commission Nov. 10 even though they are expected to change under legislation that could be approved by the end of this year.

Under current law, the two New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority tracks—Monmouth Park and Meadowlands--must offer 141 Thoroughbred dates. Under emergency legislation approved earlier this year and only for 2010, the NJSEA was permitted to offer 71 days, all of them at Monmouth.

A 50-day spring/summer meet with much higher purses was considered a success, so the NJSEA and horsemen would like to do so again in 2011 pending changes in legislative requirements.

The NJSEA requested 104 days at Monmouth from May 7-Sept. 30, and another 37 dates for Meadowlands that would be held at Monmouth from Oct. 1-Nov. 20.

Atlantic City Race Course, owned by Greenwood Racing, again applied for six days of turf racing from April 28-30 and May 1-3. This year’s six days produced strong growth in pari-mutuel handle and attendance, and track officials indicated a desire to add dates—if more purse money is made available.

Horsemen are interested in having 10 days in the spring and 10 days in the fall at Atlantic City to complement the Monmouth meet, but the track won't offer such a schedule without a purse supplement.

On the harness side, the NJSEA applied for 141 days of racing at Meadowlands (Jan. 7-Aug. 20 and Oct. 1-Dec. 31). Freehold Raceway, owned by Pennwood Racing—a partnership of Penn National Gaming Inc. and Greenwood—applied for its statutory minimum of 168 days (Jan. 1-June 11 and Aug. 18-Dec. 31).

The harness racing industry has expressed interest in shorter meets with higher purses, and is discussing having 100 programs at Meadowlands and 100 at Freehold. Chris McErlean, vice president of racing for PNGI who oversees Freehold, said discussions are continuing but no agreement has been reached.

Legislation introduced in the New Jersey Senate Nov. 8 would allow for fewer harness dates.