03/18/2011 12:26PM

Monmouth Park: New Jersey Racing Commission approved amended 141-day meet

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The New Jersey Racing Commission on Friday approved an amended 141-day racing schedule for Monmouth Park’s meet this year, but the length of the meet is still considered to be in limbo because of plans by the state to award a lease to operate the track by June 1.

The amended schedule dropped some race dates in May and pushed the track’s opening date to May 14, a week later than originally proposed, according to Robert Kulina, the general manager of Monmouth, which is owned and operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. The amended schedule also added some dates toward the end of the meet, which is scheduled to conclude on Nov. 27.

With the approved amendment, Monmouth will only race on weekends and on Memorial Day during May. Last year, the track held 71 race dates, with 50 of the dates conducted under a Friday-to-Sunday schedule.

Under a plan pushed by Gov. Chris Christie, the NJSEA opened up bidding for a private operator to lease Monmouth Park several weeks ago. The winning bidder is expected to push for an amended schedule for the track, according to New Jersey racing officials, a process that will require negotiations between the bidder and the state’s horsemen.

As a result, it’s still unknown how many dates Monmouth Park will ultimately run this year. The bidder is likely to push for a schedule that includes approximately 80 live racing dates, according to officials.

New Jersey law requires a minimum of 141 racing dates, but that requirement can be sidestepped if horsemen and the track’s operator agree to a different schedule.