Already off to a rousing start with 20,736 fans pouring through the turnstiles on opening day, Monmouth Park officials are making no secret about their optimism for both the current 52-day race meeting and the long-term prospects of the picturesque Shore track in Oceanport, N.J.
With sports betting imminent, and Monmouth Park positioned to take advantage of it quickly, the potential is there for a historic summer. Currently awaiting a decision from the United States Supreme Court, the nearly six-year battle to overturn the federal ban on sports betting in all but four states will soon find resolution in the nation's highest Court.
“Opening day was proof positive that the changes we've implemented thus far are precisely what our fans and horsemen have been searching for,” said Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, operators of the racetrack. “With the Court set to render its decision, and our preparedness to implement sports wagering almost instantaneously, this season, more than any in the past, has the ingredients to be a game-changer not only for Monmouth Park, but for horse racing in New Jersey and the entire Mid-Atlantic region.”
The first of Monmouth Park's newest wrinkles for 2018 saw opening day coincide with Kentucky Derby day for the first time ever, doing so with a nine-race card of live racing and an assortment of events and promotions throughout the track that were well received by the big crowd.
In another break from the past, the track is also trying a “bundled stakes” format to four racing days in addition to the traditional stakes-filled card on Haskell Day. The Grade 1 betfair.com Haskell, which annually attracts the sports' top 3-year-olds, is Sunday, July 29.
Four stakes races will be contested on each of four bundled stakes days: Saturday, May 26; Sunday, June 17 (Father's Day); Saturday, June 30, and Saturday, Sept. 1.
Several popular features that were new at the track last year are back, with Max's Hot Dogs and Lighthouse Italian Ice again operate concession stands on the grounds. Max's has expanded their operations to include the paddock grill in addition to last year's Grandstand location. Bluegrass Mini-Golf, William Hill Race and Sports Bar and Blu Grotto Restaurant, which enjoyed rave reviews following its opening in 2016, are fixtures on the scene again.
Also part of the fabric of Monmouth Park now is 4njbets.com, an on-line wagering platform that brings horse racing directly to mobile devices, as well as exchange wagering, a popular European wagering market that allows players to offer and accept odds at different prices. To date, New Jersey remains the only state to offer such wagering opportunities.
The Monmouth Park meeting runs through Sunday, Sept. 9.
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