07/05/2015 3:28PM

Officials make plans for 'Pharoah Phan Phest'


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Now that Monmouth Park has won the American Pharoah lottery, the hard work begins. How do you best prepare the facility to handle an all-time record crowd?

With less than four weeks to go before the Aug. 2 Haskell, track officials are making a wide array of plans to make sure people enjoy themselves.

"The question we keep asking ourselves is: 'How can we offer as good of a fan experience as possible?' " track president Bob Kulina said Sunday.

Monmouth is a big facility with a lot of outdoor space, but it is not on the scale of a Belmont Park or Santa Anita, and its infield is not set up to accommodate fans, like Churchill Downs, Oaklawn Park, or Pimlico.

The all-time record crowd at Monmouth is 53,638, which came on Haskell Day 2003, when Funny Cide was the star of the show. He was upset by Peace Rules and Sky Mesa.

Kulina's estimate for American Pharoah's visit, if the weather is good, is "high 50s to mid-60s."

Post time is going to be moved up to 11:30 a.m. for the 14-race card. The gates will open at 9 a.m. There is likely to be several races run after the Haskell, so the crowd doesn't all leave at once.

Monmouth is going to recommend people take mass transit to the track or carpool. There is a train station at the track, and New Jersey Transit will be adding extra cars that day.

Monmouth officials are making plans for offsite parking and shuttle buses.

The popular outdoor picnic area at Monmouth will be expanded for Haskell Day. TVs will be added, 200 additional mutuel machines are being brought in, concession stands will be set up, and  outdoor restroom trailers will be provided. Fans will be allowed to bring in beach chairs and coolers.

Mutuel tellers usually come in from Maryland for Haskell Day, but since Laurel Park is racing this summer, plans are being made to bus mutuel clerks in from Kentucky instead.

The expanded picnic area improvements will be temporary, but Kulina said the improvements will be made permanent for next year.

"That's what the public wants, and we will once again extend the picnic area for next year," he said.

Security will be "amped up" for the Haskell, according to Kulina.

Attendance will not be limited. Haskell seating was sold by itself, not packaged with admission tickets, and everyone who shows up will be allowed into the track. Admission prices will not be increased.

The majority of the reserved seats for Haskell Day were sold at their typical prices of $10 to $20. On Sunday, a lot of tickets were listed on StubHub, with the least expensive for $100. Some box seats were listed for $700 each.

Monmouth Park officials plan to have Haskell related events starting Friday.

There will be a charity golf tournament with Monmouth Park jockeys and the public Friday. There also is likely to be a minor giveaway at the track that day.

On Saturday, there will be a Bob Baffert baseball jersey giveaway. The jersey will have Monmouth Park across the front and the number 7 – representing Baffert's seven Haskell winners – on the back. The jersey will include patches of the silks of Baffert's Haskell winners.

A Haskell fashion show also is scheduled for Saturday.

Haskell Day will include the traditional ball cap giveaway. Because the caps have to be ordered in advance, the usual 34,000 caps were ordered, according to Kulina, and it is too late to increase the order. They are likely to run out this year.

Monmouth is scheduled to release full details of Pharoah Phan Phest, as it is being called, later this week.