The 2010 racing season at Monmouth Park came to a close on Sunday with dramatic across the board gains. With a new racing schedule that consolidated all Thoroughbred racing at Monmouth, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority offered two meets – the Elite Summer Meet, which spanned 49 days and the 22-day Monmouth Fall Meet.
During the Elite Summer Meet, presented by IZOD, Monmouth Park offered the highest purses in the nation, averaging $797,079. Those record purses led to an astonishing 213% increase in average daily handle, as well as a 79% increase in on-track handle, a 47% rise in attendance and a 25% gain in field size.
Monmouth Park’s Fall Meet, which got underway on Sept. 11 and ran through Nov. 21, saw an average daily handle of $3,841,848, on-track handle of $299,778 and attendance of 4,277. By comparison, during the 47 live Thoroughbred racing dates at the Meadowlands in 2009, average daily handle was $1,342,884, on track handle $139,378 and attendance 3,325. Average field size during the 2010 fall meet at Monmouth was 8.81 per race. At the Meadowlands in 2009 that same figure came in at 7.29.
“It’s clear that concentrating Thoroughbred racing at Monmouth Park proved a very wise investment,” said Dennis R. Robinson, president and CEO of the NJSEA. “Not only did we realize dramatic gains in all categories, we substantially reduced our operating costs by shifting all Thoroughbred racing to Monmouth.”
When taking the raw numbers from last year’s 140 Thoroughbred dates at the Sports Authority’s racetracks and comparing them with just 71 live programs this year, a substantial net gain remains in total handle and a near wash in on-track wagering. In 2009, Thoroughbred racing at Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands totaled $354,867,156. In 2010, with nearly 50% less dates, that number reached $477,375,167. Comparing on-track figures saw handle in 2009 at $44,623,515, with 2010 coming in at $44,153,896.
“While in some instances it’s difficult to compare the results of 2009 to 2010, one thing is certain – less proved to be more,” said Robinson. “Our racing schedule along with the quality of our product resonated with racing fans from coast to coast. I hope it proves to be the cornerstone of a new racing model."
Haskell Day, once again, provided the biggest day of the season. A crowd of 40,904 helped set an all-time wagering record for the IZOD Haskell Invitational (G1), with $4,463,736 bet on the race, captured by champion Lookin at Lucky.
Monmouth Park saw three runners that competed in the Garden State go on to win Breeders’ Cup races this year: Dubai Majesty (Filly & Mare Sprint), Unrivaled Belle (Ladies Classic), and Pluck (Juvenile Turf).
Winning top honors at the Elite Meet were jockey Paco Lopez (69 victories), trainers Bruce Alexander, Todd Pletcher and Steve Asmussen (20 wins apiece) and owners George and Lori Hall (13 wins).
The award for top jockey at the Monmouth Park Fall Meet went to Paco Lopez (44). Trainers Ben Perkins Jr. and Gregg Sacco tied with 10 wins apiece, while Red Oak Stable and Patricia Generazio led all owners, each with seven victories.
“I am very proud of the work of our dedicated employees to make this season the success that it was,” Robinson said. “Everyone at the Sports Authority, the horsemen’s groups, legislators and local officials had a hand in seeing this meet come to fruition and I am thankful for their support and hard work.”
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In all, 2010 seemed solid, but the Fall meet needs to be shorter. I'd recommend running on Fridays as well (or Mondays, since a lot of other tracks are dark) during the fall meet and wrapping up live cards sometime around Columbus Day weekend.