04/04/2012 11:07AM

Monmouth slices $1 million from 2012 stakes package

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
When Teaks North won the 2011 United Nations, it was worth $750,000. This year's running of the Grade 1 turf stakes will carry a purse of $500,000.

Monmouth Park in New Jersey plans to offer $3.9 million in total purses in 22 non-overnight stakes this year, a $1 million reduction from the total purses offered for non-overnight stakes last year, according to a schedule the track distributed on Wednesday.

Spared from cuts was the Haskell Invitational, which will continue to offer a $1 million purse, the track said. The Haskell, a major mid-summer target for 3-year-olds, is scheduled for July 29 and will be supported by five other stakes, including the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher for fillies and mares 3-year-old and up, the Grade 3 Oceanport Stakes for 3-year-olds and up, and the Grade 3 Matchmaker Stakes, a turf race for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.

Counting overnight stakes and stakes restricted to New Jersey-bred horses, the total stakes schedule will offer purses of $6 million.

Monmouth Park, which is scheduled to open its live meet on May 12, will be operated this year by the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association under a long-term lease it reached with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the state agency that owns the track. In previous years, the authority had provided the funding for the track’s stakes races out of its operating funds.

Dennis Drazin, the chief counsel for the horsemen, said that the stakes schedule will be funded out of a combination of a $4 million grant made by the authority for the 2012 racing season and a $5 million loan provided by the authority. The grant and loan were provided as a recognition that the authority expects Monmouth to lose $8 million this year.

The horsemen are also expected to receive $2 million loans from the authority in both 2013 and 2014. Payments on the loans are not required until 2015.

Under the schedule released on Wednesday, three ungraded stakes races held last year will be eliminated, though those stakes were replaced by graded stakes that were cancelled last year. The eliminated stakes are the Salvator Mile, the Lady’s Secret, and the Jersey Derby. They were replaced by the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes, the Grade 3 Eatontown Stakes, and the Grade 3 Red Bank Stakes.

The Monmouth Stakes will carry a $200,000 purse, down from its 2010 purse of $250,000, while both the Eatontown and the Red Bank will carry $100,000 purses. The Eatontown had a $150,000 purse in 2010, while the Red Bank had a purse of $200,000 in 2010.

The purse for nearly every stakes race on the schedule was cut. Notably, the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes will carry a purse of $500,000 this year, down from $750,000, and the Grade 3 Iselin Stakes will offer a $150,000 purse, down from $250,000 last year.

“We were trying to balance out the money we had available and still put on a good stakes program,” Drazin said.