05/08/2008 11:00PM

Opening day gets soaked


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Monmouth Park picked up right where it left off - in a driving rainstorm.

Monmouth opened Friday with its first card since hosting the Breeders' Cup last October.

It poured on Breeders' Cup weekend, although the sun finally broke through to shine on the final event: Curlin's victory in the Classic.

Opening day dawned with more of the same: buckets of rain on a cool afternoon with the temperatures in the mid-50s.

Unfortunately, there was no rainbow to brighten opening day.

It was a soggy start to the 99-day meet that runs through Sept. 28. The sloppy track was sealed, and scratches were plentiful.

The miserable conditions held the opening-day turnout with 3,463 to launch another racing season on the Jersey Shore.

The meet got off to a familiar start as Joe Bravo took the opener aboard Al the Usher ($5.80). "Jersey Joe" has already won 13 titles at Monmouth.

The resumption of the Belmont Park simulcasts was a rare bright spot on an otherwise gloomy day.

The New York Racing Association and the cooperative representing Monmouth and the other tracks in the Mid-Atlantic region reached an agreement Thursday to resume the simulcasts.

Belmont simulcasts are an important part of the wagering mix at Monmouth. Last year, players at Monmouth bet an average of $215,000 a day on Belmont - the most popular signal at the track this time of year.

State committee hears industry views

Members of the New Jersey State Senate Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee were opening-day visitors at Monmouth.

The committee held a lengthy public hearing during which 18 speakers were scheduled to address the panel with status reports on the state's racing industry. The hearing was largely informational.

"We don't have any specific legislation before us," said the committee's chairman, Jim Whelan.

In addition to building a case for slot machines or video lottery terminals to help stabilize the racing industry, Dennis Drazin, president of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, took the owners of the state's four tracks to task for the slow rollout of offtrack betting throughout the state.

Drazin pointed to legislation passed in 2001 that authorized 15 outlets. To date, only three have opened.

"We need to fast-track the OTBs," Drazin told the panel. "They would take us a long way toward self-sufficiency."

McCauley returns a winner

Herb McCauley sported one of biggest grins on the miserable afternoon.

"Show me the money!" McCauley said, tossing the whip to the valet as he returned to the winner's circle after Casino Transaction won the $70,000 Red Cross Stakes for fillies and mares.

McCauley was back in the chips at Monmouth for the first time since suffering a severely broken leg in a spill here in 1998 that seemingly ended his career.

"It's been 10 years since I've ridden here," McCauley said. "The last stakes horse I rode was called Good and Tough. The man above looks at me as being pretty good, even though I am not perfect."

McCauley, who launched a comeback last fall, guided Casino Transaction ($13.80) to a three-quarter-length win.

"I'm not sure who I was happier for, me or Herbie," said winning trainer Greg Sacco.

Casino Transaction survived a claim of foul by Jeremy Rose aboard Circuit Breaker, who was second under the line.

As it turned out, Circuit Breaker was disqualified to fourth for interference against Devil House.

In the revised order of finish, Jenny Bean Girl was elevated to second, with Devil House third.

The time was 1:09.04 for the six furlongs in the slop.

* Deadly Dealer should be a prominent pace factor in Sunday's $45,000 feature, a third-level allowance and $50,000 optional claimer at one mile, 70 yards. A 4-year-old colt trained by Todd Pletcher, Deadly Dealer set quick fractions before tiring to third at Belmont Park last time out.