12/13/2001 12:00AM

Dates agreement in Jersey

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New Jersey horsemen and racetracks have reached an agreement on a plan that would provide 141 live Thoroughbred racing dates next year at Monmouth Park and The Meadowlands.

Under the agreement, live racing would begin at Monmouth Park on May 11 and continue until Sept. 1. On Sept. 2, Labor Day, the live race meet at The Meadowlands would begin, running until Nov. 30.

The agreement has to be approved by the New Jersey Racing Commission, which is scheduled to next meet on Dec. 20. If the commission does not approve dates by the end of the year, New Jersey racetracks will be unable to offer simulcasts in 2002 until the commission approves a new dates plan.

The commission had already rejected a live racing schedule submitted by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the owner of Monmouth and The Meadowlands. That request was for 125 live race dates in 2002, well short of the 141-day requirement outlined in legislation passed earlier in the year to legalize off-track betting and account wagering.

Dennis Drazen, the legal counsel for the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, said the new agreement would require the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to keep the Monmouth Park stable area open during the Meadowlands meet. The authority would also pay for vanning costs from Monmouth to the Meadowlands, Drazen said.

Bruce Garland, the vice president of racing for the authority, declined to comment about the deal on Wednesday.