07/01/2006 11:00PM

Monmouth allowed to race


An appellate court in New Jersey ruled Sunday that Monmouth Park and The Meadowlands could remain open through the end of business on Tuesday, avoiding a holiday closing threatened by the state's unprecedented shutdown of government.

The ruling came on a motion filed by the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and representatives of the state's Standardbred horsemen.

The decision allowed Monmouth to proceed with its Monday and Tuesday cards and meant the resumption of simulcasting and account wagering throughout the state.

Horse racing was one of the first government-regulated concerns mentioned in Gov. Jon Corzine's order Saturday shutting all "nonessential" state services when the legislature failed to deliver a balanced budget by the July 1 constitutional deadline.

Corzine's order closed the New Jersey Racing Commission, and state law requires regulatory oversight of any gambling. As a result, all simulcasting and account wagering was halted in New Jersey at 6 p.m. Saturday, and The Meadowlands cancelled that night's harness card.

"We are very pleased with the court's decision," said Dennis A. Drazin, president of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "Our industry and the state would have lost millions of dollars in revenue if racing was cancelled."

The budget battle centers on Corzine's demand for an increase in the state sales tax from 6 to 7 percent to close a projected $4.5 billion budget deficit, a proposal legislators rejected. There was some activity Sunday in Trenton, the state capital, as legislative leaders met with Corzine in an effort to break the impasse.