Monmouth Park's 61-Day Meet Begins Saturday

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Looking as beautiful as ever after cleaning up the damage wrought by Sandy, Monmouth Park will open for its 68th season of Thoroughbred racing on Saturday with a 12-race card that starts at 12:50 p.m.

There will be free grandstand admission and half-price clubhouse admission on Saturday.

The 61-day meeting will run through Sunday, October 6, here in Oceanport. New Jersey horsemen will also run a 10-day meeting, all races on turf, at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J., from Oct. 11-Nov. 2.

Gates will open at 11:30 a.m. each day, and first post time will be 12:50. The only exception is Sunday, July 28, when the $1 million William Hill Haskell Invitational tops the card. Gates open on Haskell Day at 10 a.m., with post time for the first race set at 12 noon.

During May, Monmouth will offer live racing on Saturday and Sunday until the last week, when a card will be added on Memorial Day Monday (May 28). Three-day-a-week racing starts on Friday, May 31, and continues through June, July and August. There will also be live racing on Thursday, July 4.

After a four-day Labor Day weekend (Aug. 30-Sept. 2), Monmouth returns to weekend only racing through Oct. 6.

Grandstand admission is $3 daily, with seniors (55 and up) at $2. Clubhouse admission is $5 ($3 for seniors). On Haskell Day, grandstand admission is $5 and clubhouse admission is $8 ($3 and $5 for seniors). Children 12 and under are always free.

Two new wagers have been added this year. The first is a 10-cent Jersey Shore Six, a pick six wager that is similar to the “Rainbow Six” which proved so popular at Gulfstream Park over the winter. Monmouth will also go “back to the future” by adding a $5 quinella on the last race each day. The quinella – picking the first two horses in any order – was the first exotic wager in New Jersey in the early 1960s.


Trainer Todd Pletcher, who led all trainers in stakes victories at Monmouth Park last year with eight, is looking for a fast start in 2013 as he sends out Travelin Man and Soaring Stocks in the $75,000 Decathlon Stakes, highlight of Saturday’s racing program.

Anthony Sciametta, who trains Pletcher’s Monmouth division, thinks either of them could win, and expects one of them to take down the winner’s share of $45,000 in the six-furlong event.

“Travelin Man is coming off a really big win at Gulfstream,” Sciametta said. “Soaring Stocks looked good in his first race back after a layoff, and he likes Monmouth.”

Travelin Man, a 5-year-old by Trippi, won the Sir Shackleton Stakes in Florida, scoring by four lengths in fast time (1:16) for the six and a half furlongs. His last start at Monmouth came in the Teddy Drone Stakes last July 29, when his wide rally fell a nose shy of Royal Currier. Joe Bravo rides for the first time.

Soaring Stocks broke his maiden at Monmouth in 2011, and last year ran third in the Decathlon Stakes, four lengths behind Ponzi Scheme. He was seventh in the Teddy Drone last July, and then was out until April 6 this year, when he ran a solid third in his comeback effort. Paco Lopez, who had the mount that day at Tampa Bay, returns in the irons.


Joe Pierce Jr., the senior member of Monmouth Park’s training colony, was saddened to lose his long-time assistant last week with the passing of William E. Johnson, known to all on the backside as “Baby Ray.”

Mr. Johnson, a native of Charleston, W.Va., and long-time resident of Long Branch, died on May 1 at Monmouth Medical Center at age 76. He worked at Monmouth for 60 years as a valet and assistant trainer.

“Nobody knew what his real name was,” Pierce said. “Everyone called him ‘Baby Ray’. And at his funeral, even his family called him ‘Baby Ray’. He was with me for nearly 50 years, and I’ll miss him.”

Pierce, who will celebrate his 86th birthday in June, took out his trainer’s license in 1956, and is now dean of Monmouth’s trainers.


Monmouth will celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday with a special brunch menu. Reservations can be made in either the Turf Club or the Dining Terrace for the brunch by calling 732-229-2100.

Ladies will be admitted to the track free all day Sunday.


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