05/09/2012 3:38PM

Monmouth Park: Horsemen set to operate their inaugural meet


OCEANPORT, N.J. – It’s show time – in every sense – for New Jersey’s Thoroughbred horsemen with the opening of Monmouth Park on Saturday.

The return of the Jersey Shore’s resort track is always an anticipated event for racing fans in the region. There is added pressure this time on the horsemen to deliver a quality show.

For the first time, the meet belongs to the horsemen. After a winter full of twists and turns during which New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie threatened to close Monmouth, the horsemen were awarded the racing permit.

Starting Saturday, they must deliver racing cards generating enough handle to keep the operation afloat and fund average overnight purses of $400,000 a day for the core meet from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

“Equine athletes always follow the money,” said John Forbes, president of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “We just hope we don’t have to condense the meet any further because we are down to the number of days we are down to so our purses can be as high as they are.”

The meet starts off with a 12-race opening-day card topped by the $75,000 Decathlon Stakes for sprinters. The Decathlon drew a field of nine, including Congressional Page, winner of this race in 2010; Soaring Stocks, who is 3 for 4 this year, including the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream Park; and Zero Rate Policy, who captured the Rumson here last summer.

First post is 12:50 p.m.

The Monmouth season is 65 days through Oct. 7. There will also be eight all-turf cards run at the Meadowlands Racetrack in the fall, extending the season to Nov. 3.

Monmouth races Saturday and Sunday for the remainder of May, with Memorial Day added on May 28. The schedule expands to Friday through Sunday in June and July along with a holiday card on July 4.

Monmouth will offer four twilight cards on Thursdays in August with first post at 4 p.m.

Fans will notice several new features this meet with four video boards the most prominent additions. Ranging from 10 to 33 feet across, the boards will bring the action to every part of the track, including the picnic area and the paddock saddling ring behind the grandstand.

The food will also have a new look with BAM! Management taking over the concession stands and restaurants.

Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Racing is on life support in NJ but a brand new casino, Revel opens in the floundering Atlantic City. Monmouth HAS a chance. AC has none. You can clearly see where the focus is. Everybody, go to Parx, Sands, Mount Airy. Don't give New Jerseys Casinos the business!
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Hey Mark! Can they all please go to Monmouth TOO ???
yvonnes More than 1 year ago
thank goodness the track will be open and PACO LOPEZ will be returning after his bad spill march 17th. good luck PACO.
brian weiss More than 1 year ago
Fast and Firm all summer long is my wish at MP...Bring back the speed bias!!!
Robert Wagner More than 1 year ago
god bless john forbes he is the voice we need there,s no better place to be on a wekend the beautiful monmouthpark watch those beautiful horse's
Patricia Doyle More than 1 year ago
All the best of luck and I do hope the fans will support the horsemen's effort to keep Monmouth alive. I will never forget this Falls opening at Santa Anita, a grand opening it was. They even brought Jay the trumpeter in by horse and buggy. They also had sky divers and just tons of great entertainment in addition to great racing. Santa Anita's handle for the meet was up. Monmouth may you prosper. Fans get out to Monmouth and show the Gov. that we WANT racing in NJ by supporting local tracks like Monmouth. People planning vacations this summer might want to plan a visit to the GREAT New Jersey Shore and Monmouth.
C.Richard Waller More than 1 year ago
Good luck to the horsemen and management in the upcoming racing season. haven't seen the new matrix boards yet, they were well over due. now with the NJSEA gone, i hope for good, racing has a chance to do well , in the capable hands of the horsemen and the management that is now in place. Looking forward to Saturday and the rest of the summer.
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Last year was awful. I hope they do a lot better carding good races. I like big fields and new faces.
Arnie More than 1 year ago
They're doing things right at Monmouth.
Greg Kilka More than 1 year ago
Kudos to whomever was responsible for getting a video screen for picnic area patrons. Haven't seen the setup yet but am holding out hope it works well.
radnor87 More than 1 year ago
Good luck to Monmouth Park horsemen, it's a great place to race in the summer and hopefully they can keep racing alive, the State coudnt care less, but it has generated a lot of money over the years, the Standarbreds have done their share too.