Monmouth Park sets schedule, bolsters stakes program

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Feb. 7, 2019

Monmouth Park Feb. 7 officially released its 2019 racing schedule that calls for 61 programs at Monmouth, seven at Meadowlands and one steeplechase date at Far Hills. Like last year, there will be multiple bundled-stakes days.

The calendar and stakes schedule is based upon recent approval by the New Jersey legislature of a $10 million purse supplement for Monmouth this year, with $10 million in each of the four subsequent years should the Thoroughbred industry meet certain metrics. The bill, which awards the Standardbred industry $10 million a year as well, awaits the signature of Gov. Phil Murphy.

Darby Development, which operates Monmouth on behalf of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, estimates an average of $500,000 in purses per day at Monmouth; that’s roughly $200,000 more per program than 2018. The meet begins May 4 and ends Oct. 27.

“This year will be a game-changer for Monmouth Park and for racing in the state of New Jersey,” said Dennis Drazin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Darby Development. “For too long we have seen our neighbors enjoy casino-fueled purses placing New Jersey at a competitive disadvantage. With a $100 million purse subsidy over the next five years, half of which is dedicated to Monmouth, awaiting the signature of Gov. Murphy, we can now start to close that gap and move Monmouth Park to a more even playing field.

“This is a terrific opportunity and we will shepherd these monies in a manner that creates a superior betting product with fuller, more competitive fields. To that end, beginning in 2019, we will offer an enhanced stakes schedule, substantial increases to our purse structure and more race dates, all the while keeping intact the owner and trainer guarantees we offered last year and expanding those into the state-bred program.

“In addition, we will continue to offer free workers’ compensation for trainers stabled at Monmouth Park and will pay a 40% bonus to New Jersey-bred horses who compete in open company.”

Monmouth will race primarily three days a week—Friday through Sunday—from late May through October. Along with Sunday racing at Monmouth in October, Meadowlands will offer seven all-turf cards on Friday and Saturday nights with the exception of Oct. 19, when the Monmouth-operated Far Hills steeplechase program will be held.

In all, there will be 61 racing dates.

The stakes schedule has been bolstered this year. There will be 64—12 of them graded—and the minimum purse has been increased from $60,000 to $75,000. The grade I, $1 million Haskell Invitational July 20 has been moved up a week and to a Saturday from a Sunday.

Along with Haskell day, the other bundled-stakes programs are set for May 25, June 22, Aug. 25 (New Jersey-bred stakes festival), Sept. 1 and Sept. 28, which will feature four races in the MATCH Series.

Monmouth Park 2019 racing calendar

Monmouth Park 2019 stakes schedule

(Monmouth Park photo by Tom LaMarra)