11/21/2001 1:00AM

New Jersey rejects dates request


The New Jersey Racing Commission declined to approve dates requests by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority for its two racetracks, Monmouth and The Meadowlands, on Tuesday, telling the authority to reach an agreement with horsemen on dates by Dec. 20.

The authority had asked the commission to approve a 72-day meet at Monmouth and a 53-day meet at The Meadowlands. The total number of 125 dates would fall short of a legal requirement that takes effect in 2002 for the authority to hold at least 141 live racing dates a year at the two tracks.

Bruce Garland, the vice president for racing of the authority, said Wednesday that he would meet with horsemen next week in an attempt to iron out an agreement on next year's dates. He said that the minimum amount of racing dates set in the law could be avoided "depending on which lawyer is reading the law."

Dennis Drazen, the legal counsel for the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, said Wednesday that horsemen support a 72-day meet at Monmouth but are clashing with the authority over the length of The Meadowlands meet. The authority wants to end the meet in early November, while horsemen want the meet to end in December.