05/20/2011 3:17PM

Monmouth Park gets approval for 71 racing days


Monmouth Park has received permission from state regulators to run 71 live racing days this year, officials said on Friday, as horsemen and the track’s leaseholder continue to negotiate over a long-term live-racing agreement.

Under the schedule, Monmouth will run Friday through Sunday and on holidays until after Labor Day, when the track will go to a Saturday and Sunday schedule. The track will close on Nov. 6 after three consecutive days of racing coinciding with Breeders’ Cup weekend.

Monmouth is owned by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, a state agency, but the track has been leased for the next five years to Morris Bailey, a real-estate developer who remains in talks with the state’s horsemen over a long-term racing schedule. Bailey is seeking a 71-date schedule for the next five years, along with $400,000 a day in average purse distribution. The board of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association is currently canvassing its membership for input on the deal.

On Friday, Bailey was in Maryland to watch his horse, Concealed Identity, prepare for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.

“When he gets back, we’ll pick up where we left off,” said John Forbes, the president of the New Jersey horsemen’s association.

Bob Kulina, the general manager of Monmouth, said that the track wanted to obtain approval for the 71-day meet despite the open negotiations in order to plan for the next several weeks of racing.

“We need to release [the next condition book], and operationally this will make things a lot easier,” Kulina said.