05/08/2014 1:35PM

Transitional meet opens with Decathlon Stakes


OCEANPORT, N.J. – The Monmouth Park meet opens Saturday for what promises to be another transitional racing season on the Jersey Shore.

The meet kicks off with a 12-race card starting at 12:50 p.m. Eastern. The $75,000 Decathlon Stakes for sprinters tops the first of 57 programs through Sept. 28.

Monmouth will race Saturday and Sunday in May, as well as Memorial Day. The schedule expands to Friday through Sunday in June.

The $1 million Haskell Invitational for 3-year-olds July 27 again tops the stakes program. The Haskell and the United Nations Stakes, the meet’s two Grade 1 stakes, are back on television this year. The Haskell airs on NBC; the United Nations will be seen on Fox Sports 1.

The transitional theme comes up year after year as Monmouth struggles to maintain its standing without slots or casino revenues to support purses. After two chaotic seasons, this year offers a different view of the track’s future.

This is the third year that Darby Development and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association will run Monmouth after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie decided the state would abruptly exit the racetrack business.

The 2012 season was a scramble as the new management team hastily assumed the reins.

Last year was cloaked in uncertainty as Monmouth and the surrounding communities struggled to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy.

For 2014, the focus is squarely on reshaping the Monmouth tract of land into a full-fledged entertainment venue.

The first phase debuted last year with the opening of a miniature golf course. The 2015 season will mark the debut of a 7,500-seat venue for summer concerts and a stand-alone restaurant. The racetrack, miniature golf course, restaurant, and concert amphitheater will be linked by a Jersey Shore-style boardwalk.

Long-range plans envision a hotel and a water theme park.

The first phase of construction on the concert venue will be visible this summer.

“Monmouth Park is well positioned to not only have a successful year, but we are going to preserve Monmouth Park for our grandchildren,” said Dennis Drazin, the chief advisor to both the horsemen and Darby Development.

Monmouth management is hopeful of seeing progress this summer on removing the legal and regulatory hurdles preventing exchange wagering and sports betting.

Many features, both old and new, are more concrete.

Fans can expect the traditional Monmouth experiences – from the barbecue grills in the picnic area at the top of the stretch to the swank parterre boxes atop the clubhouse.

A new sports bar, sponsored by William Hill, opens Saturday on the grandstand level.

A different voice occupies the announcer’s booth with Travis Stone replacing Larry Collmus, who is now the racecaller at Churchill Downs.

Monmouth will offer 50-cent trifectas for the first time. The Jersey Shore Six, similar to the Rainbow Six at Gulfstream, returns with a 10-cent base price.

Monmouth will soon open a new offtrack betting parlor about 60 miles away in Hillsborough, N.J.

On the racing front, president Bob Kulina hopes a new participation bonus will improve the quality of the product while boosting average field size.

Owners will be paid a minimum of $700 for every non-New Jersey-bred dirt starter and $500 for every open turf runner. Trainers get a $300 bonus for every non-statebred starter regardless of surface.

New Jersey-breds can compete in restricted statebred races or vie for a 40 percent bonus against open company.

“I know we’ll have a fuller stable area than the last few years,” Kulina said. “The response from the horsemen has been positive. I think the product will be stronger. We should have over 1,500 horses here in July when the Churchill Downs meet ends.”

liljock More than 1 year ago
Wish Monmouth a great meet, but I'm not a fan of cards with more than 10 races.
will More than 1 year ago
Geez...check out this comments. I'm a negative guy but wow !.... Monmouth is still a very nice racetrack. It's not Santa Anita or Saratoga, but if you think Monmouth racing is bad, you haven't been to many race tracks.... As for its future, well again, if you aren't the big racetracks, most other tracks are in the same boat----- which is casino's taking out horse racing.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
You want to know where Monmouth Park is going? Don't look much farther than the NY trainer that has 2,3 entered in every race. This NY trainer is going to have somewhere around a 35% win rate for the meet. Everybody, please stand clear of the parade of favorites that are coming through! Drugs will be running ramped through the backside because Kulina and Drazin's backs will be turned just to draw horses in. Paying out of state entries for coming? Thumbs down will follow this post. But the thing is, you don't know any better. You do not believe me? If you know anything about Monmouth Park, there will be a long list of trainers that you will not see this season. Why? They have no chance.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
You think Larry Colmus just all of a sudden said, "thats it, I don't like Monmouth Park anymore"? He didn't want to stay for the shhhit show that would become.
1971 Whippet More than 1 year ago
Suffolk Downs never was Monmouth Park. Monmouth Park will never be Churchill Downs. I just hope they survive because it is a great spot for racing, even with it's problems. Can't blame Larry for moving to CDI.
mikey More than 1 year ago
The only 2 making money is Kulina and Drazin.This place was the best place to go .Now they lost the best race caller to churchill.They are turning this place into a place for kida.They can't even bet.Maybe the horses can give pony rides.Hate to see such a great place go down the drain.With these 2 at the helm the the Titanic had a better shot.
Chuck Seddio More than 1 year ago
this place is doa,no slots no shot,best memory i have of this place is the breeders cup when i still dont think it stopped raining,what a shame and disaster,that had to be the worst weather ever not only for breeders cup but than on any racing day. i was a child back in the early 60's lived in ny and my dad and used to take the boat to monmouth,what a great day,on the way there were crap games and poker and on the way back if you had any money left the same. as it gets later and later into the meet you will see the decline,nickel claimers and nickel maidens and short fields.
Patricia Doyle More than 1 year ago
I love Monmouth and hope it succeeds. Hope they add a few more stales races to their meager schedule. Wish they expand their schedule, at least, Thursday through Sunday for live racing..,
Alan Stern More than 1 year ago
Fernando Guntin More than 1 year ago
Stop dreaming race fans without slots horse racing in New Jersey is dead.
Joseph Nardone More than 1 year ago
Monmouth Park is the largest polluter in Monmouth County, NJ. Waste from the horses washes into the adjacent Shrewsbury River and has polluted the water to the point that it is not safe for human contact. Please do not patronize Monmouth Park until they house the horses further from the river.
Slew32A More than 1 year ago
Good, Ill be there this weekend.
gallopingtom More than 1 year ago
Monmouth park and NJDEP remediated the storm water runoff. The storm water is now sent to the infield pond. I also believe sewage is now sent to the Long Branch sewerage treatment facility. Every coastal waterway in NJ is impaired. The upper reach of the Shrewsbury has been adversely effected by poor manure practices in the past. However, that doesn't come close to explaining the abysmal water quality conditions in the Navesink or Shrewsbury rivers. Monmouth Park is low hanging fruit and certainly not even close to be the main ciulprit or smoking gun.
Joseph Nardone More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately, the remediation plan is not working and the water is still polluted with bacteria that be linked directly to the horse manure at Monmouth Park. The only solution is to house the horses further from the river.
Alan Stern More than 1 year ago
Why don't you move Joe? The state itself is a sewer. Have you been to Trenton or Camden lately?
Saratogafan More than 1 year ago
Although not from NJ, I'd guess that Monmouth is regulated under an NYDEP or EPA CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) permit for agricultural facilities. As such, it would be required to employ management practices to eliminate or minimize waste discharges. It's much more likely that the over fertilized and pest controlled stately lawns of the mansions and lesser McMansions of Monmouth County aggregately cause a much greater pollution loading to local waters. Those are generally unpermitted by environmental agencies and driven to high pollution contributions by the vanity of their owners and the overselling of product by the lawn fert industry. If you are serious about protecting Monmouth County waters, perhaps you should visit the WSJ, Forbes or Barrons blogs and post off topic messages there.
Saratogafan More than 1 year ago
typo alert.. NJDEP.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
you think YOUR POOP does not pollute Mr. Nardone ?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nobody gives a sh!+
Nick More than 1 year ago
FYI your assumptions are completely false Nard one. So get your shi it right before you start talking shi it about nothing you know about!
michael More than 1 year ago
I love Monmouth, wish it,success. Please remove the awful picnic tables and umbrellas down the stretch area. These people dont bet a dime and one cannot see the horses finishing. I fear eventually the land will go fully casino betting like everywhere else.