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Monmouth Park 2018 Opener Draws crowd of 20,736

Monday, May 7, 2018

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A robust crowd of 20,736 welcomed thoroughbred racing back to Monmouth Park on Saturday, May, 5, for the start of a 52-day meeting, with the nine-race card capped by a stirring stretch duel won by Force the Pass in the $75,000 Cliff Hanger Stakes. 

Force the Pass, returning from a 20-month layoff, showed his class with a nose victory over a game Irish Strait in the featured Cliff Hanger. A Grade 1 winner, Force the Pass used a fourth-place stalking trip in the one-mile grass event to eventually collar Irish Strait. The two were locked in a head-to-head duel for most of the stretch before Force the Pass, the 3-1 second choice in the field of seven, poked his nose in front of 8-5 favorite Irish Strait on the wire. 

Open for live racing for the first time on Kentucky Derby Day, Monmouth Park’s return was well received by racing fans. 

“It was an enthusiastic crowd that was treated to a great day of live racing complemented by the Kentucky Derby simulcast,” said Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, operators of Monmouth Park. “Our new racing format certainly proved popular with the wagering public and opening day was the first of an entire season of race cards we know will be embraced by horsemen and racing fans alike.” 

Handle for the live product on track was $591,090. Overall, $3,114,951 was bet on the Monmouth Park card from all sources.  

Force the Pass, trained by Alan Goldberg and ridden by Jevian Toledo, won for the fifth time in 14 career starts, all on the grass. His signature victory was the Grade 1 Belmont Derby on July 4, 2015. He had not raced since Sept. 24, 2016 due to an injury. 

Jorge Navarro, seeking a record sixth straight training title, started quickly with two winners on the card. 

Monmouth Park’s meeting runs through Sunday, Sept. 9. Live racing resumes on Saturday, May, 12.