06/17/2003 11:00PM

Execs to make pitch for a Breeders' Cup


OCEANPORT, N.J. - The Devils brought home a third Stanley Cup to the Continental Airlines Arena last week.

Giants Stadium hosted World Cup soccer, arguably the biggest sporting event in the world.

The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority has set its sights on adding one more Cup to its glittering collection: The Breeders' Cup.

A contingent of executives from the NJSEA, the agency that runs The Meadowlands Sports Complex as well as Mon-mouth Park, will travel to Lexington, Ky., Friday to make a formal presentation to host the Breeders' Cup.

The first available slot will probably not come open until 2007. Santa Anita hosts the 2003 Cup followed by Lone Star Park next year.

After that, the next two Cups are expected to go to Belmont Park and Churchill Downs.

The NJSEA team, headed by chairman Carl Goldberg and president George Zoffinger, will argue that New Jersey deserves consideration among the next flight of tracks.

"We believe we offer attractive sites," said Bruce Garland, the senior vice president of racing for the NJSEA. "New Jersey would be a great place for the Breeders' Cup. The Mid-Atlantic region would be a great place for the Breeders' Cup."

Dual sites are interesting aspects of the NJSEA presentation. The NJSEA will offer the Breeders' Cup the option of Monmouth or The Meadowlands.

Monmouth offers picturesque charm and a long history of Thoroughbred racing, while The Meadowlands features an all-weather grandstand, close proximity to the assets of New York City, and network-quality lighting, should the Breeders' Cup opt to experiment with an evening, prime-time telecast.

The NJSEA presentation focuses on bringing the Cup to New Jersey without specifying a site.

"It would be great for the state of New Jersey," Garland said. "Places that have had the Breeders' Cup tell us the event can be worth as much as $100 million in terms of local business activity.

"We view this as something good for every part of the New Jersey racing industry: the racetracks, the breeders, the horsemen and the bettors. It has an energizing ability that is symbolically important."

The NJSEA will point to its success in staging a wide range of events. It routinely handles crowds in excess of 70,000 for NFL and college football and premier soccer matches. Entertainers from Frank Sinatra to Bruce Springsteen have performed on its concert stages.

"This has been a long-term goal," Garland said. "We want to show that we have the experience and the desire. We can demonstrate how we built up individual races like the Haskell Invitational over the years. The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority exists to bring big events to the state."

A video presentation will include testimonials from Gov. Jim McGreevey and former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley.

The possible sale or lease of Monmouth and The Meadowlands will undoubtedly be raised by the Breeders' Cup officials.

Zoffinger has expressed an interest in selling the properties if they fetch favorable prices.

Garland will explain to Breeders' Cup that the NJSEA represents the state of New Jersey and that commitments made to the Breeders' Cup would be honored even if the NJSEA no longer exercised direct control over the tracks.

"No decisions have been made but we are probably looking at a long-term lease of the facilities," Garland said. "That would add another level of control."

In addition to Garland, Zoffinger, and Goldberg, the NJSEA will be represented by Bob Kulina, vice president of Thoroughbred racing; Kathy Francis, senior vice president for sales, marketing and communications; and Chris McErlean, vice president and general manager of The Meadowlands. They will be joined by Dennis Drazin, representing the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, and Lawrence Codey from the New Jersey Racing Commission.

Off the turf again

There is no truth to the rumor that Noah has been spotted on Jersey Shore gathering planks for the ark-makers.

And there is no truth to the rumor it rains every single day at Monmouth. It just seems that way.

Heavy overnight rain got the new week off to another soggy start as both turf races carded for Wednesday were moved to the sloppy main track. Both nine-horse fields dwindled to five runners on the surface change.

Monmouth has used its grass course on only two of the first 18 days of the meet.

The track also threw in the towel on grass racing for Thursday. The next attempt to run on turf will be on Friday.

* Larry Collmus, the voice of Monmouth, returned home to call the action at Suffolk Downs this week. Sam McKee came down from The Meadowlands to work the booth at Monmouth.