02/10/2006 12:00AM

Turf racing shifted to Big M

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The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and its horsemen have reached agreement on a plan to run three all-turf race cards this summer at The Meadowlands racetrack because the new turf course at Monmouth Park isn't expected to be ready for the opening of the Monmouth meeting, the legal counsel to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association said Friday.

The three Meadowlands cards will be run on June 5, June 12, and June 19, three Mondays. Because of the additional race cards, officials plan to drop live racing at Monmouth on four consecutive Wednesdays, from June 1 to June 21. Monmouth would also add two Wednesday all-turf cards in September.

Dennis Drazin, the legal counsel to the horsemen's association, said that officials of the authority approached the horsemen about the plan a month ago after wet weather set back the efforts to install the new course at Monmouth. The authority ripped out Monmouth's turf course last year after being awarded the 2007 Breeders' Cup.

"Under this plan, we get five all-turf days for four canceled race days, and without it, we wouldn't have turf racing," Drazin said. "We're happy with this, and I think everyone is happy with this."

Drazin said that authority officials have said that the course should be ready to use by the beginning of July.

Monmouth's 2006 race meet is scheduled for May 13 to Sept. 24. The Meadowlands will run a Thoroughbred meet from Sept. 29 to Oct. 11. The all-turf cards at The Meadowlands will be conducted during the track's harness meeting, although the track doesn't race on Mondays.