Report: Garden State to Close for Good in May

The Thoroughbred community figured the April-early May meet at Garden State Park would be the track's last. But the Standardbred community was shocked to find out that this fall's harnesss meet wouldn't go. In fact, the New Jersey racetrack will shut down for good May 29, even for simulcasting.

The Courier-Post, a newspaper based in Cherry Hill, N.J., reported Wednesday that Pennwood Racing, which leases Garden State, won't renew its lease. The property already had been sold to Realen Properties, a Pennsylvania company that plans to turn the racetrack into a residential and commercial complex.

"This comes as a complete shock," Pat Salerno, director of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, told the newspaper. Several major stakes are held at Garden State in the fall, but as of Wednesday, the harness community had no clue what would happen.

Legislation to legalize off-track and account wagering in New Jersey is yet to pass. Pennwood retained 10 acres of the property for use as an off-track betting parlor, but that can't be built or operate until the bill is passed. As such, simulcasting apparently will end -- or at least be suspended -- as of May 29.

The closest betting parlors to Garden State are located in Pennsylvania and operated by Greenwood Racing, a partner in Pennwood.