07/08/2006 12:00AM

Corzine signs the budget and Jersey racing resumes


Oceanport, N.J. - New Jersey racing returned to normal Saturday when Gov. Jon Corzine ended the week-long shutdown of state government.

The order came in time to save Monmouth Park's Saturday card, which included the meet's premier turf race, the Grade 1, $750,000 United Nations Stakes.

Monmouth had already lost the Thursday and Friday cards to the state's budget crisis. Saturday's card hung in the balance as the legislators pulled an all-nighter before finally sending Corzine a balanced budget. The Senate passed the budget at 4:20 a.m.; the Assembly followed at 5:40 a.m.

Minutes after the Assembly acted, Corzine rescinded the executive order that closed state government, including the New Jersey Racing Comm-ission, which is responsible for supervising horse racing.

The 12 Atlantic City casinos, closed since 8 a.m. Wednesday, sprung back to life at 7 a.m. Saturday. The lottery immediately resumed ticket sales. And racetracks, shuttered since 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, resumed live, simulcast, and account wagering.

The Meadowlands, which lost four harness cards to the shutdown, prepared for a Saturday night program that was to start at 7:45 p.m.

Monmouth will explore options for replacing the two lost cards with the horsemen and the racing commission.

"It would be my preference to add races rather than days," said Bob Kulina, the track's vice president and general manager.

Kulina said Monmouth will likely expand the Saturday and Sunday cards from 10 to 11 races.