New Jersey Schedule for 2003 Finally Settled

After months of negotiations, the ink is finally dry on a 2003 dates schedule for Thoroughbred racetracks in the Garden State.

The New Jersey Racing Commission March 18 approved an amended request by both the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association to reduce the number of live dates from 141 to 120.

Monmouth Park will run 92 days, from May 24 through Sept. 28, while Meadowlands will run from Oct. 2 through Nov. 8.

Atlantic City Race Course, owned by Greenwood Racing, will run 10 days, six of them at Monmouth. One of the four all-turf programs to be held at Atlantic City will be devoted to steeplechase racing.

"Currently, we're finalizing an agreement for a six-year deal, whereby we'd run 120 days in 2003 and 2004, then run 141 days in 2005 through 2008," said Dennis Drazin, counsel for the New Jersey THA.

Drazin said without enabling legislation, it's unlikely account or off-track wagering will commence in 2003 or 2004. Under the terms of a 2001 law, a minimum of 141 dates must be awarded for account or off-track betting to begin.

The sports authority and horsemen are expected to ask state lawmakers to amend the legislation to allow expanded betting to occur with 120 live racing days.