Monmouth Park announces starter bonuses for owners, trainers

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Jan. 24, 2018

In an effort to increase field size, Monmouth Park this year will offer bonuses to owners and trainers, and the New Jersey track will continue to pay workers’ compensation costs.

The 52-day meet at Monmouth will begin earlier this year—May 5, which is Kentucky Derby day—and conclude Sept. 9. The barn area will open April 20 and close Oct. 31.

For all non-state-bred races, excluding stakes, all owners will be guaranteed a minimum of $500 per starter, while all trainers will receive $300 for each horse that runs, track officials said in a Jan. 23 release. As for workers’ comp, a blanket policy through the New Jersey Injury Compensation Board will cover employees of trainers who stable at Monmouth.

Monmouth is leased by the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and operated by its affiliate, Darby Development. Officials are hopeful for positive developments this year given that Gov. Phil Murphy, who took office earlier in January, has expressed interest in assisting the horseracing industry in the state.

Monmouth has continued to hold its own in the congested Mid-Atlantic region, where racing in all other jurisdictions receives revenue from casino gambling.

“Our primary goal is to increase field size,” said Dennis Drazin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Darby Development. “The wagering public has made it clear that they want full, competitive fields. Our bonus program and workers’ comp plan will help us deliver what racing fans want.

“This new approach, particularly for New Jersey-bred runners who face open company, creates a reward system that benefits all participants while simultaneously enhancing our primary objective of increased field size.”

After Monmouth announced its bonus program for 2018, the Thoroughbred Breeders Association of New Jersey via Twitter said it “will continue to work with Monmouth Park and the New Jersey THA to restore the open bonus for New Jersey-breds running in open company.” That program was suspended a few years ago because of financial difficulties in New Jersey racing; Thoroughbred and Standardbred breeding in the state have taken big hits in recent years.

Drazin said that keeping the barn area open through Oct. 31 stems from trainers who race at Tampa Bay Downs in Florida from November through April or early May.

“I’ve heard from numerous trainers at Tampa that any lapse in stabling between our two facilities causes great hardship,” Drazin said. “This new schedule alleviates that dilemma and is among the first in a slew of changes and improvements for the 2018 racing season—ones that I’m sure will prove popular on all levels throughout the industry.”

(Monmouth Park photo by THA)