03/25/2005 1:00AM

Dispute could cost Monmouth 2007 Cup

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A longstanding dispute between the New Jersey Racing Commission and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association is threatening Monmouth Park's selection as the host site of the 2007 Breeders' Cup, according to a Breeders' Cup spokesman.

The Breeders' Cup has set a deadline of April 9 for the two sides to come to an agreement before the organization begins negotiations to select an alternate site, according to Jim Gluckson, the spokesman. He said that a memorandum of understanding signed by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which owns Monmouth, includes language that requires the dispute to be settled in order for Monmouth to act as a host track.

"Right now, there is still a firm commitment to Monmouth Park and New Jersey, but that commitment will be dropped unless there is a resolution," Gluckson said Friday. "We don't want to be in an environment where there is this type of dispute."

The racing commission and the horsemen's association have been at odds for several years, and negotiations to resolve the dispute reportedly fell apart on Wednesday, according to a report in The Asbury Park Press. Recently, the commission filed a complaint in state court accusing the horsemen's association of financial mismanagement, and it has called for the state to require strict controls on how the association spends its money. The horsemen's group has accused the commission of being politically motivated.

Officials of the racing commission, the horsemen's association, and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority could not be reached on Friday, a holiday in many state offices.

The dispute is being arbitrated by Superior Court Judge Alexander D. Lehrer, according to The Asbury Park Press. After the negotiations broke down on Wednesday, Lehrer set a trial date for Oct. 24.

The Breeders' Cup is scheduled for Belmont Park this year and Churchill Downs in 2006. The 2007 event would be the first one held in New Jersey.