Louise Reinagel

Plan Floated for Jersey Training Center

A plan to construct a training facility near Monmouth Park has been proposed.

A proposal to use 80 acres from the soon-to-be-shuttered Fort Monmouth property in Oceanport, N.J., for a training and winter stabling facility has been made by Dennis Drazin, president of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, to borough officials.

The borough of Oceanport, where Monmouth Park is located, stands to acquire 419 acres of Fort Monmouth—scheduled to be closed by 2011—and does not want to use the entire amount for housing. The site is very close to Monmouth and convenient to other tracks in the Mid-Atlantic region.

“We’ve been saying we need winter stabling for a long time,” Drazin said. “There has always been a question of how that could be accomplished. Should we winterize Monmouth Park? Or would Philadelphia Park (in Pennsylvania) be willing to build additional barns for New Jersey horsemen? A training facility at Fort Monmouth would answer those questions.”

Drazin said he approached Oceanport councilman Gerald “Jay” Briscione about the project, and that Briscione was very supportive.

“This has picked up some steam, and it may be a real possibility,” Drazin said. “The borough is moving forward with it, and we’ve been in touch with attorneys and politicians. We’ll need the support of the (Gov. Jon) Corzine administration, but he has stated that in return for not pursuing video lottery terminals at state racetracks, he would help the racing industry in other ways. There has been no official word yet whether he supports this project.”

Drazin said a conservative estimate for completion of the training facility, once approved, would be three to five years.

“The need for this has come about because of the increased competition from other states,” Briscione said. “There is no place for New Jersey horsemen to go after Monmouth Park closes for the season. It would also maintain jobs for a longer period.

“Right now, horses are at Monmouth Park from mid-April to mid-November. This would put them there from January to December, and the Thoroughbred industry would be part of the local economy for a longer period of time.”

While supportive of the plan, Briscione called its chances a “longshot.” The government may believe the value of the land is too high to support such a project, he said.

“We would want it, but from an economic perspective, is that what the government would want there?” Briscione said.