03/15/2007 11:00PM

Cup preparations continue amid resignations


The Breeders' Cup remains confident that preparations are proceeding smoothly at Monmouth Park to host this year's championships despite turmoil in the executive ranks of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, according to a Breeders' Cup official. The authority lost its third executive since the start of the year when Art Winkler announced his resignation this week as chief operating officer.

The authority is the owner and operator of Monmouth, the Meadowlands Racetrack, Giants Stadium, and the Continental Airlines Arena.

Chris McErlean resigned in January as vice president of racing operations to join Penn National Gaming Inc. in a similar capacity. President and chief operating officer George Zoffinger announced his resignation last month in a controversy over an ethical lapse. He remains on the job until Gov. Jon Corzine names a replacement. Winkler was former president of Garden State Park and International Thoroughbred Breeders Inc.

While monitoring the authority's upheaval, Breeders' Cup officials are satisfied that Monmouth is meeting all obligations as a first-time host for the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup.

"We are in regular discussions with the NJSEA and Monmouth Park to insure that we have proper management for this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships," said Jim Gluckson, senior director of event communications for NTRA/Breeders' Cup. "Preparations for the event remain on schedule.

"There were no concerns during this period and we're moving forward. A number of people from the Breeders' Cup have visited Monmouth and everything is moving smoothly."

Bob Kulina, Monmouth's vice president and general manager, is the point person for most of the onsite preparations.

Dennis Drazin, president of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, said: "We have no worries whatsoever. As long as Bobby Kulina is there, we have no fears. He is the right man for the position and I have no doubt he'll put on a fine show. If they lost Bobby, then I would be concerned.

"It's going to be a lot of hard work, but it is going to be a super event."

Kulina said the defections from the top ranks of the authority have not rippled down to Monmouth.

"From an operational perspective, everything is the same," Kulina said. "We are moving forward with all our capital projects. We just keep doing what we do. It really hasn't affected anything at Monmouth Park as far as personnel goes. It's business as usual."