Plan Calls for Increase in Jersey Racing Dates

Horsemen, racetrack operators, and the New Jersey Racing Commission are in agreement on a 2003 Thoroughbred calendar that calls for 151 live racing days. The schedule was approved even though track officials have said the 141-day allotment for this year doesn't make good business sense.

Of the 151 days, 86 would be conducted at Monmouth Park, 55 at Meadowlands, and 10 at Atlantic City Race Course. Six of Atlantic City's dates would be held at Monmouth. (In 2001, Atlantic City was awarded 10 days, but nine of them were raced at Monmouth.)

The Nov. 21 meeting of the racing commission was a far cry from last year's meeting, when horsemen and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which runs Monmouth and Meadowlands, clashed bitterly over the number of dates. A total of 141 live dates must be run per legislation that legalized off-track and account wagering in the state.

NJSEA vice president Bruce Garland has charged that the current Meadowlands meet is "close to being a disaster," in part because of the mandated schedule. With no purse supplement from a financially-strapped state, Meadowlands purses are about 50% ower than last year. Attendance, handle, and field size are also down.

"The 141 dates are a detriment to us maintaining a competitive position with neighboring states," Garland said.

Dennis Drazin, counsel for the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, said he fully supports the NJSEA's 141-date request.

Garland had originally intended to ask for 92 dates at Monmouth, but a statute written many years ago to protect defunct Garden State Park limits Monmouth to only 86 dates.