10/15/2001 12:00AM

New Jersey seeks more dates

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The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority will ask state regulators to approve 141 days of Thoroughbred racing in 2002, a 17 percent increase over 2001.

The authority plans to run 88 Thoroughbred dates at Monmouth Park and 53 dates at The Meadowlands. Last year, Monmouth scheduled 72 racing days and the Meadowlands scheduled 49 days.

Under legislation passed this year that legalized account wagering and offtrack betting, the authority is required to run at least 140 days of live racing. Horsemen pushed for the requirement amid concerns about a decline in live racing opportunities in the state over the last several years.

If the dates plan is approved by regulators, Monmouth will open on May 11, a week earlier than last year, and close on Sept. 1. The track will run five days a week until July 20, when it will run six days a week for the rest of the meet, officials said.

The Meadowlands will open for Thoroughbred racing on Sept. 2 and run through Nov. 2, six nights a week.