Monmouth reports wagering gains for expanded meet

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Oct. 31, 2019

Monmouth Park reported a 16.8% increase in total pari-mutuel handle on its live product for the meet that ended Oct. 27.

The meet spanned 60 days and one partial card—the Haskell Day program on which six races were cancelled because of concerns over extreme heat. The 2018 meet featured 52 days of racing.

Monmouth was able to add racing days this year given its $10 million share of a $20 million purse supplement from the state. It will receive the same amount for the next four years if it meets certain metrics such as handle growth and increased participation in the New Jersey Thoroughbred breeding program.

The 2019 meet also was the first full session with sports betting.

The track reported total wagering of $205,545,841 this year, up from $175,961,376. On-track betting on live races totaled $20,953,740, up 1% from 2018, while wagering from other outlets was $184,592,101.

Average daily total handle of $3,369,603 was down 0.4% from $3,383,872 in 2018. A complete 14-race Haskell Day program would have reversed the slight decrease.

Purses averaged roughly $440,000, up from about $310,000 in 2018, because of the purse supplement. Some funds also were used to bolster New Jersey-bred incentives.

Total attendance was reported at 545,767, up from 465,244 last year.

“The positive overall numbers reflect the high quality of the product we were able to offer, thanks in large part to the purse supplement from the state of New Jersey,” said Dennis Drazin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Darby Development, which operates Monmouth on behalf of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “Despite the challenges we faced on Haskell Day, our biggest day of the year, we’re grateful to the fans who stuck with us and for everyone who helped make the best of a very difficult day.

“To be able to show gains across the board without the benefit of a typical Haskell Day is significant and a sign that the quality of racing was consistently at a high level throughout the meet. This was also the first year of the purse subsidy and the first full year of sports betting, which were instrumental in this year’s success. The state subsidy was a key factor in being able to add more live racing dates to our schedule.”

“We’re optimistic about the future, not only for racing at Monmouth Park in general but specifically for the breeding sector in the state. We’re already starting to see that trend tick upward.”

Monmouth also held seven all-turf programs at Meadowlands and one steeplechase card at Far Hills. Handle for those dates are not included in the Monmouth total.

On the racing side, Joseph Besecker was leading owner with 23 wins, Jorge Navarro won his seventh consecutive Monmouth training title with 68 victories, and Paco Lopez was leading rider with 109 wins, two more than Nik Juarez.

(Monmouth Park photo by Tom LaMarra)