08/06/2010 2:02PM

Monmouth: Post Haskell Buzz


People are still talking about the Haskell here, five days after the biggest day on the Monmouth schedule. The card was solid, the crowd was enthusiastic, the Haskell was formful. And, maybe most importantly, the rain somehow held off. This track has been extremely unlucky in the past when it's come to weather on big days but no one could complain about what happened on Sunday, when it rained virtually everywhere else in Monmouth County except for here.

One aspect of Haskell Day that can be improved upon is the aftermath of the feature. While a large percentage of the crowd is lost after the Haskell, the patrons that are left are made to feel a bit like stragglers. Cashing a ticket after the final race on the card can be an adventure that will lead one to three different levels and five different tellers, who race to cash out after a long day. There are scant options for food, which suddenly seems important again once there's no more live racing, and the bars are mostly closed down, with the exception of the Lady's Secret Cafe, and that only seems to be open because bartenders Nancy and Claudia recognize how strong the demand is. While there's no real way to keep the post-Haskell exodus from happening, some attempt should be made to encourage bettors to stick around. Most are only going to be idling on Route 36 for an hour anyway. And if you took the train to the track there's no telling how old you'll get waiting for NJ Transit -- never mind the racetracks and casinos, that's the biggest drain on the state's taxpayers -- to A) get a train to you and B) recognize that Haskell Day deserves a couple of special runs. Then again, NJ Transit is an organization which annually fails to see summer approaching, scheduling exactly zero express trains to and from the beach on weekends.