09/03/2001 11:00PM

Jersey tracks rethink NTRA


Officials of Monmouth Park and The Meadowlands have discussed plans to rejoin the National Thoroughbred Racing Association this year, track officials said Tuesday.

Bruce Garland, the vice president of racing for the owner of Monmouth and The Meadowlands, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, said that the NTRA has addressed many of the concerns that led the tracks to drop out of the association at the beginning of this year. He said the NJSEA board would discuss rejoining the NTRA at a scheduled meeting on Sept. 14.

The NJSEA and a number of other tracks in the mid-Atlantic dropped out of the NTRA this year after citing the NTRA's business relationship with Television Games Network and concerns that the association was straying from its initial business plan.

Since then, the NTRA has disassociated itself from a betting hub in Oregon that was used for TVG's telephone-betting operation, and it also released a revised business plan.

Despite the pullout by the NJSEA, the NTRA used part of its television budget to broadcast three Monmouth stakes races this summer, including the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Stakes. Eric Wing, a spokesman for the NTRA, said that the association televised the races because the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association is still a member of the organization.

"It was a nod to their loyalty," Wing said. "But it was also because those were three terrific races and they had a lot of fan interest."

Breeders' Cup officials also visited Monmouth last week in an informal site tour. Tracks cannot be considered as candidates for the Breeders' Cup unless they are NTRA members.