NJRC to consider Monmouth Park application for 2019 dates

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Nov. 16, 2019

The New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and its operating entity, Darby Development, are expected to request 77 live racing programs for 2019.

The New Jersey Racing Commission has scheduled a meeting for Nov. 21 to discuss racing dates and the renewal of various licenses for off-track betting establishments and exchange wagering for next year. Historically, racing dates have been awarded and then revised at a later date; that could be the case again given unresolved issues in the state’s racing industry.

The NJTHA applied for 57 programs at Monmouth Park and another 20 at Meadowlands. The total of 77 includes one day of pari-mutuel wagering at Moorland Farm for the Far Hills Steeplechase, which took bets for the first time this year under the auspices of Monmouth.

The fall Thoroughbred meet at Meadowlands would run roughly two nights a week through Dec. 7. As of now, Darby Development is hopeful of offering both turf and dirt racing should it reach an agreement with Meadowlands on conversion of the Standardbred surface to accommodate Thoroughbreds.

Darby Development Chief Executive Officer Dennis Drazin has repeatedly expressed a desire to restore a regular fall Thoroughbred meet at Meadowlands and in turn keep the Monmouth barn area open longer because Meadowlands is now a ship-in-only facility.

Details on the racing schedule will be released later, but it appears the $1 million Haskell Invitational for 3-year-olds could be moved up a week to the third weekend in July per a request by NBC for live coverage purposes.

The NJTHA Board of Directors plans to meet soon to discuss a purse structure for 2019 that probably will include a boost from sports betting revenue. The Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries are both awaiting action on legislation that would give the industry $20 million a year over five years; under the current language Monmouth would use its $10 million share to support purses.

The bill has been introduced but not yet heard in committee or on the floor of either house.

The NJRC also will consider distribution of the Casino Simulcasting Special Fund from 2017 that totaled $473,000, all of which was generated at Borgata Casino, the only gaming hall in Atlantic City that offers full-card simulcasts. At the height of casino simulcasting in Atlantic City, multiple casinos produced millions of dollars a year for the fund.

(Monmouth Park photo by Tom LaMarra)