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HRN Original Blog:
Racing At The Jersey Shore

This Year's Haskell Star and New Owners open Monmouth Park

Governor Chris Christie declared that the State of New Jersey was getting out of the horse racing business. Of course, the State still wanted their share of the wagering takeout, but the Governor was no longer willing to accept any of the financial risks. Thus Monmouth Park’s future was put in a precarious position.
 
After real estate developer Morris Bailey backed out of his deal to lease the track, the new negotiations broke down five or six times. Each time this put the future of Monmouth Park in danger.  The current lease was not completed until February, leaving very little time to get ready for the traditional mid-May start of racing at the Jersey Shore.
 
On Tuesday, May 7th, Monmouth Park held its annual media kick off luncheon where the three major players in the acquisition of the current five-year lease gave presentations about the track’s short and long-term plans. Robert Kulina a long-time Monmouth Park executive is now the President of Darby Development, which will manage the racetrack.  Dennis Drazin a New Jersey thoroughbred owner and breeder and a key player in the lease negotiations will continue as an advisor to Darby. Jon Forbes is the current President of the NJ Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association.
 
Kulina talked about the immediate financial goals of the track, “We are going to try and keep the tradition alive, this great building alive by selling bets. That’s where our money is made. So, our immediate goal is to develop our distribution system, the OTWs, and the Easy Bets.”
 
Monmouth Park controls the rights to operate two more off-track wagering facilities and hopes to have them operational in the next year and a half. Monmouth now also controls Favorites in Woodbridge, which is the most successful OTW site in the country that nets $7 million each year for the track. In addition there are the rights to 12 Easy Bet sites in northern New Jersey, which can be opened in existing restaurants and bars as place to drop in and make a simulcasting bet or to fund your 4NJBets online wagering account.
 
This year there will be 65 racing days with average daily purses of $400,000. Kulina commented about the anticipated quality of racing, “We haven’t changed a lot. I think we are remaining competitive as far as what some of the other East Coast tracks are writing (in their condition books). We might have lowered some turf races, but pretty much it’s the traditional Monmouth Park book.”
 
Opening Day is this Saturday, May 12th, and the card filled with 117 horses entered in 12 races, that includes two races on the turf and a very competitive Decathlon Stakes for three-year-olds and up at six furlongs.  Plenty of big name trainers have runners entered on Saturday: Todd Pletcher (2), Kiaran McLaughlin (2), Graham Motion, Michael Matz, Terri Pompay (3), Alan Goldberg (2), Mark Hennig, Ben Perkins (5), Rick Violette, Kelly Breen, and Rudy Rodriguez. Jane Cibelli, who became the first woman to win the Monmouth training title in 2011, has 3 entered. 
  
The anchor of racing at Monmouth is the $1,000,000 Haskell Invitational, which this summer will be run on Sunday, July 29th. After lunch I had the opportunity to ask Kulina which Bob Baffert horse should we expect? With a twinkle in his eye Kulina gleefully said, “BODEMEISTER! Just the other day I spoke to Bob (Baffert) and he told me Preakness, and you know we’re not running in the Belmont, and then the Haskell."
 
Drazin spoke about the chance that New Jersey racetracks would ever get casino gambling, “Slots, do I think they are coming? The Governor has indicated that he wants to give Atlantic City an opportunity to make it happen, and after five years depending on what happens there...if Atlantic City doesn’t come around then the Meadowlands would get an opportunity and it would deserve that opportunity…that there would be slots or a casino in the northern part of the State that would be aligned with Monmouth Park.”
 
Forbes added that the plan is, “To make Monmouth a little bit more of a destination and not just a racetrack, but to bring in some more fan friendly attractions.” This summer there will be 4 Thursday Twilight racing events which are modeled after what has been a huge success at Churchill Downs. There are plans for Boardwalk themed games and activities, miniature golf, and a water theme park.
 
It appears that Monmouth Park is looking at many ways to deal with the financial woes that all racetracks are facing. All of us long-time New Jersey racing fans are glad that our favorite track is back in 2012.

 

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Older Comments about This Year's Haskell Star and New Owners open Monmouth Park...

Andy. Ray Kerrison of the NY Post had a nice article about Monmouths openning. You should read it. I think like Gural running Meadowlands, horsemen running Monmouth will in the end improve the track. Ironically , the state getting out of horse racing may indeed be the best thing that happened to both tracks.
The poker bill could be what Drazin is referring to. That has some potential as I mentioned for horse racing BUT lots of hurdles on that. Basically right there at least three bills kicking around on Internet gaming in NJ
With American dream. Also going on is the Internet gaming and poker bill that could benefit the tracks, but the people from Atlantic city want the only servers to be located in AC. They are saying that online betting would only be legal if allowed in NJ OR if new casinos are built in other parts of the state. Christie is seeking an opinion from the AG on this. There are things that could benefit horse racing from the Internet but rest assured AC will try and monopolize. Ron Dancer had a bill pass that would let people at tracks use smart phones etc for placing bets.
The problem with Drf is that they are behind the news curve in NJ. Drazin is speaking about the first bill that would have allowed tracks and AC to set up sports betting etc. but AC is clearly, in my opinion concerned that Horse racing did not die in NJ as they hoped but at the Meadowlands is doing alot better than thought and more than likely Monmouth will be more successful. Gural is opening his OTB parlor sooner than thought and is combining with
buckpasser, I was only referring to what Drazin said in Ryan Goldberg's article in DRF.
Andy if you want to read about the bill I am discussing go to the Standardbred website and look under "bill to provide Internet gaming for atlantic City". Just so there is no mistake the title of the Bill from committee is The Atlantic City Internet gaming bill. No mistake on its intentions.
That's nice Andy, but if you read the bill the only place taking Internet gaming will be the Casinos in Atlantic City. That is the the gist of the bill that just came out of Committee this week. You may be referring to the OLD bill that would have allowed gaming at the tracks as well. This New bill is opposed by the Standardbred horsemen because they are NOT allowed to set any Internet gaming activity at the tracks. This new bill is for AC only.
buckpasser, actually if interent gaming passes Drazin hopes to have an internet gaming parlor at Monmouth and to prepare they will make a room at the track that would be ready to go.
There is an Internet gambling bill that defenders of Atlantic city want to pass which the horse industry is against. Hopefully it won't pass. I am so tired of all this propping up of Atlantic City at the expense of the horse industry
The opening day card is pretty strong! They have lowered base bet to 50¢ on all horizontal bets.
I know the purses won't be what they were a few years ago, but I like playing Monmouth Park, since it plays well into what I like to look when handicapping. I just hope they're able to maintain a good portion of what they were a few years ago & not turn into a shell of its former self, like Atlantic City.
Glad Monmouth will be back. They should take a look at some of the things Gural is doing at meadowlands to help with attendance etc. he has been very successful at Tioga with opening day bringing almost 12 thousand spectators
There needs to be a Monmouth Park, there just needs to be. Bodemeister could be the fastest horse to run in the Haskell since Spend a Buck, and he was upset by Skip Trial at big odds!

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Meet Matt Shifman

In the 70’s I was another one of those kids that went to the track with their fathers, and I immediately became enthralled with the excitement and challenges of handicapping.  And then the charisma and dominance of Secretariat gave me a hero to follow. To this day, I still get emotional when I hear Chic Anderson’s call of the 1973 Belmont, “Secretariat is moving like a tremendous machine”.

 
There have been many great horses run at the shore. In 1976 I watched Majestic Light win the Monmouth Invitational, now the Haskell, in track record time, defeating Honest Pleasure, the big favorite who was in from New York.  This was one of my first big wins at the track.
 
In the 80’s, as a disciple of Andy Beyer, I made my own speed figures because they were not available to the public. Needless to say I visited Monmouth frequently to test out the “figs”.
 
The 90’s allowed me to learn about the backstretch as a part owner of a few claimers that were stabled at Philadelphia Park.  Not a typical owner, I mucked stalls, cooled out the horses, and watched morning works.  Also, I met my wife and discovered that her grandfather bred, owned, and raced thoroughbreds on the West Virginia, Maryland circuit.  Today our office is decorated with winner’s circle pictures and a vast collection of Kentucky Derby glasses.
 
Today’s electronic age makes it so easy to gather information about racing.  I hope you use this blog to learn about Racing at the Jersey Shore.