03/16/2010 12:00AM

Monmouth announces $12.1M stakes package


Aside from boosting its overnight purses to projected record levels, Monmouth Park also will increase the gross payout in New Jersey stakes purses in 2010, officials at the Oceanport, N.J., track announced Tuesday.

Monmouth will disperse $12.1 million in purses for its 90 stakes, up from the $10.54 million paid out in 2009 at Monmouth and Meadowlands. That jump is not nearly as dramatic as in the overnight schedule - Monmouth set American racing abuzz last week when announcing that per-day purses, including stakes, will average about $1 million from May 22 through Sept. 6.


Monmouth will run a total of 71 days this year, while Meadowlands, which has held a Thoroughbred meet since 1977, will not race. Last year, Monmouth and Meadowlands held 141 days of Thoroughbred racing.

As usual, the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational is the focal point of the stakes schedule. Won last year by Rachel Alexandra, the 1 1/8-mile Haskell will be run on its traditional date, the first Sunday in August, which falls on Aug. 1 this year. Two stakes for 3-year-olds have been positioned to lead up to the Haskell. The Grade 3, $200,000 Pegasus, formerly held at the Meadowlands, has had its purse boosted $50,000 and will be run June 19. The $175,000 Long Branch Stakes will serve as a Haskell prep on July 10.

Other major races of note include the Grade 1, $750,000 United Nations Handicap on July 3; the Grade 3, $250,000 Monmouth Stakes on June 12; and the Grade 2, $300,000 Monmouth Cup - formerly the Meadowlands Cup - on Oct. 9.

Overnight stakes that had been worth $60,000 to $75,000 last year at Monmouth are now worth $100,000. The post-Labor Day overnight stakes remain $60,000.

Monmouth will race primarily Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through Labor Day, Sept. 6. The meet will then continue through Nov. 21 on Saturdays and Sundays and will offer a per-day purse average of $250,000 to $300,000, with the lone exception being Sept. 18, when a New Jersey-bred card will be worth about $1 million.

Bob Kulina, vice president and general manager at Monmouth, said in a Tuesday release that "what we're offering this year is a new approach to racing. This stakes schedule, along with our new race meet, is certainly attracting the interest of new horsemen from across the country."