06/21/2011 3:56PM

New Jersey Senate panel advances racing legislation


A bill that would allow Monmouth Park to hold 71 days of live racing a year – roughly half of the minimum currently set by law – moved to the New Jersey Senate floor after passing Monday out of a Senate committee.

The legislation, which is supported by the racing industry and Gov. Chris Christie, also would grant legislative approval for the state to lease both Monmouth and the Meadowlands to private operators. The state is currently in negotiations with two individuals on five-year leases for each of the facilities, which are currently owned and operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

Although current law requires 141 live Thoroughbred dates in the state, horsemen have agreed in negotiations with Monmouth’s lessee, Morris Bailey, to cut racing dates to 71 each year for the next five years. Bailey, a real-estate developer who breeds and owns horses, was tabbed by the state to operate Monmouth earlier this year.

A similar bill has been introduced in the House. Both bills are not expected to draw any opposition through the legislative process.