And, They’re Off: New Management, New Ideas At Monmouth Park
Saturday marks the start of Monmouth Park's 67th season, and the early betting is that it'll be a season like none before.
It's the first season that the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association is in control of track operations, the result of a lease with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority that took effect just a week ago.
Dennis Drazin and Robert Kulina head the management team for NJTHA. Spokesman John Heims says racing fans will notice changes as soon as they enter.
"The first thing most noticeable will be the four large video boards around the facility," says Heims. "One in the infield, one in the picnic area, one by the event center and one in the clubhouse."
Heims says that the group also plans to take better advantage of shore holiday tourism than in years past.
Monmouth races Saturdays and Sundays through May, and adds a schedule on Memorial Day, Monday May 28. "And then come June," says Heims, "we kick in with a Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule. And then we're also adding July 4. Then, the last four Thursdays in August, we're going to do twilight racing, with the first race post at 4 PM." The final holiday card will be on Labor Day, September 3.
It's also the first time since 2009 that turf racing returns to the Meadowlands, 10 days wrapped around the Oceanport track's 65-day season. The first two days of thoroughbreds at the Big M took place as the lease took effect, May 4 and 5. It continues after the end of the Monmouth season October 7, with Friday and Saturday cards from October 12 through November 3.