(Edited press release)
Monmouth Park concluded its 2009 meeting Sept. 27 showing a significant gain in average attendance, even as wagering followed what has become this year’s national downward trend.
According to Monmouth Park figures, during the 93-day meeting that opened May 9 (the program of Friday, Sept. 11 was canceled due to adverse weather conditions), total attendance reached 646,268 for a daily average of 6,949, a gain of 6% over last year.
At the same time, wagering on Monmouth races from all sources totaled $293,019,640 for 93 days, a daily average of $3,150,749. The average daily handle was 5% lower than the 2008 average of $3,308,135. On-track handle was $38,072,385, a daily average of $409,380, down 4.9% from last year.
“Overall, we can clearly say that the Monmouth meeting was a success,” said Dennis Robinson, president and CEO of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority. “The numbers were what we expected and are in line with the national trend.
“To see an increase in attendance and only a slight dip in handle is proof positive that more people stayed close to home this summer, and in this economic climate had less discretionary money to spend,” Robinson said.
“I’m proud of the events we put on this season,” Robinson added, “particularly Rachel Alexandra running in the Haskell (Invitational, gr. I), bringing the Vans Warped Tour to Monmouth Park for the first time, the tremendous success of this year’s crab cake cook-off, and the steeplechase festival late in the season. These events demonstrate Monmouth Park’s importance not only as a racing venue, but as a community partner in the region, and an economic engine for the state of New Jersey.”
A crowd of 37,090 turned out to see Rachel Alexandra beat the boys in the Haskell in spite of the fact that Aug. 3 was one of the worst weather days of the year in New Jersey, with fierce thunderstorms that brought rain, lightning, and tornado warnings to much of the state.
Elvis Trujillo won his first Monmouth riding title, finishing with 129 victories. Eddie Castro was second, with Joe Bravo and Carlos Marquez Jr. tied for third.
Bruce Levine dominated the early part of the meet and cruised to a second straight training title, saddling 46 winners. Scott Volk was second and Jason Servis finished third in the standings.
Repole Stable was the leading owner for the second straight year with 24 winners, followed by George and Lori Hall and Patricia Generazio.
Live Thoroughbred racing in New Jersey shifts to the Meadowlands starting Oct. 1, for a 47-day meet that runs through Dec. 5.