08/25/2010 2:54PM

Monmouth fall meet to offer purses of $375,000 a day

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OCEANPORT, N.J. – Purses will be higher than initially expected for the post Labor Day portion of the Monmouth Park meet. The 22 days from Sept. 11 to Nov. 21 will average $375,000 a day, well above the projected $275,000.

The windfall is the product of two factors: higher than anticipated business during the summer and an underpayment to the purse account.

The 50-day Elite Meet, May 22 to Sept. 6, which was scheduled to offer $50 million in purses, has surpassed projections in every major statistical category.

Using comparable data for the corresponding Friday through Sunday dates from last year, Monmouth’s average daily all-sources handle this meet has more than doubled to $8,013,169 through Sunday. Last year’s total average daily handle averaged $3,752,852. Average daily ontrack handle is up 42 percent to $779,728, while weekend attendance has increased almost 14 percent to 10,758.

The track hasn’t been able to give away the money fast enough. Even factoring in elements like breeders awards and the rewarding of every starter at least $1,500, the Monmouth purse account is projected to fall $4 million short of the $50 million target.

The underpay, obvious earlier in the meet, will be made up in the fall. A decision was made to hold back the money rather than further inflate the summer purses, which were already at record levels.

“It made no sense to raise the purses then,” said Bob Kulina, Monmouth’s vice president and general manager. “I wanted to make the purses as large as possible for the fall meet. In my opinion, it’s a win-win for everybody. It made no sense to raise a $75,000 maiden special to $80,000 on the Fourth of July.

“The hardest thing was us to figure how to give away that kind of money. We weren’t sure what races would go. It was a learning process.”

The purses for the fall meet, racing only on Saturdays and Sundays, will exceed last year’s average of $332,672 for the entire May through September Monmouth season.