09/01/2003 11:00PM

Barns are still filled as extra weeks begin


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Monmouth Park moves into the extended portion of the season Thursday afternoon after a two-day break to regroup from the Labor Day weekend.

Monmouth traditionally runs a summer meet from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. This year, the Monmouth meet doesn't end until Sept. 28, with the return of Thoroughbred racing at The Meadowlands Racetrack delayed until Oct. 2.

Monmouth last ran an expanded season in 1975 when the meet concluded Oct. 4.

Purses will be slightly less than during the first part of the meet - $250,000 per day compared with $300,000 pre-Labor Day - but, said racing secretary Mike Dempsey, racing fans won't notice major changes during the four additional weeks.

"The only major change will be no graded stakes. That money will go toward the overnight purses," Dempsey said. "We will have overnight stakes every weekend."

Monmouth remains on a Wednesday through Sunday schedule with first post at 12:55 p.m.

Dempsey has no worries about filling cards for the extra four weeks. "The stable area is still full," he said.

One factor Dempsey can't control is the weather, but he remains hopeful it will be okay.

"The weather could be better than what we had all summer," Dempsey said. "Hopefully, it won't be as rainy or humid as it has been this summer."

Luvinheriseasi would prefer it wet

While Dempsey hopes for dry weather, trainer Mary Hartmann would love to see a wet track for Luvinheriseasi in Thursday's featured $40,000 allowance race for New Jersey-bred fillies and mares at six furlongs.

Luvinheriseasi has hit the board in four of her eight off-track starts. "If we get a wet track, she should be very good," Hartmann said. "She seems to handle the wet the best. Her whole family is a good bunch of mudders."

Luvinheriseasi is a 4-year-old homebred owned by Bill Martucci, who was the leading owner at Monmouth in 1992.

Luvinheriseasi looks to be rounding into form with a pair of thirds in her last two races.

"She seems to be progressing better in her 4-year-old season," Hartmann said. "She was a late foal, a June foal, so she's been a little bit behind her whole life. Right now she seems to be doing well."