Monmouth Park closed out its 2005 season Sunday reporting a decline in wagering from last year while attendance remained stable.Average daily on-track handle for the 90-day meet was $645,523, a decrease of 8.5% from last year. Total handle on the New Jersey track's races averaged $3,019,576, off 14.4% from 2004.Daily attendance at Monmouth averaged 9,093 in 2005, almost exactly the same as last season.
Unusually hot weather and problems with the turf course, which substantially reduced fields in many races, plagued the summer portion of the meeting, and there was no grass racing at all after Labor Day. The turf course is being replaced for next year's meeting in anticipation of Monmouth hosting the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships in October 2007."Unfortunately, declining numbers have been the national trend in racing this year," said Dennis Dowd, senior vice president of racing for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. "Our handle averages are down, but less than some of our neighbors here in the East. A lot of factors went into the decline, including the very hot summer and the loss of many of our turf races, and eventually the turf course entirely."On the plus side, we had a terrific Haskell Day with more than 43,000 on hand – our fifth highest crowd ever – and our entire stakes schedule drew top horses from all over the country."We're encouraged that our attendance held even with last year," Dowd noted. "It gives us something to build on for next year, and we're confident that as we head for the Breeders' Cup in 2007 we're on the right course to growing our business."Joe Bravo captured his 11th riding crown at Monmouth, winning 108 races in spite of missing six weeks of the meet. Training honors went to Kelly Breen, who saddled 38 winners for his first Monmouth title. There was a three-way tie for leading owner between Ed Broome, Michael Gill, and Peter Kazamias --all finishing with 13 wins.
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