A 120-day racing season is on tap in New Jersey this year and for the next three years. Monmouth will race through Sept. 26 for a total of 87 days. Meadowlands dates have yet to be released.
The New Jersey breeding program will benefit from a four-year agreement reached between New Jersey's Thoroughbred and Standardbred horsemen, as well as its casino industry, officials announced May 25 at a press luncheon at Monmouth Park to celebrate the May 29 opening of the 2004 racing season.New Jersey racing will get an $86-million purse subsidy from the Atlantic City casinos over the next four years, which will boost purses at Monmouth to $320,000 per day, the richest amount in track history, as well as $300,000 per day at Meadowlands this fall.The casinos agreed to give the horse racing industry the supplement if the tracks dropped their bid to pursue video lottery terminals for the next four years.New Jersey Thoroughbred breeders will get between $1.2 and $2 million for state-bred races this year, and state-bred horses that win open races will be entitled to a 30% bonus. Also, the second annual festival for Jersey-breds will be held Aug. 29 with total purses of $700,000."The agreement was important to the state's breeders, because it will lead to an increase in the breeding program and therefore to better horses being foaled in the state, which will produce better horses racing at our tracks," said Bruce Garland, senior vice president of racing for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the state-run entity that owns and operates Monmouth and Meadowlands.In addition, Garland noted Monmouth is under consideration to host the 2007 Breeders' Cup Championships, which never before has been held in the Garden State. Breeders' Cup officials made the announcement May 13 after a site visit."We know we'll do a great job with the event if we're lucky enough to host it," said Garland, who noted the track annually hosts crowds in excess of 45,000 on Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) day, which this year is scheduled for Aug. 8.