News & Barn notes

Monmouth Park Shows Increase In Average Total Handle and Average On-Track Handle For Third Straight Year As Meet Ends

September 10, 2023

Monmouth Park continued its upward trend by showing an increase in average total handle and average on-track handle for the third straight year, while Paco Lopez claimed his 10th riding title and Claudio Gonzalez was the leading trainer for the second straight summer as the 51-day meet came to a close on Sunday.

The average total handle was $4,032,648 this year, an 11.4 percent increase over last year’s average of $3,620,719.

The on-track handle rose 15 percent to $340,257 compared to the 2022 average of $295,896.

In addition, the average field size of 7.71 was the largest since 2015.

“We are grateful to our fans, horsemen, stakeholders and especially Governor Murphy and the entire state legislature,” said Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, operators of Monmouth Park. “To see our across-the-board numbers, year after year, continue to show large increases is a direct result of the purse supplement, the hard work of all our employees, and of course, the racing fans.

“We have witnessed a continued growth of not just the breeding program in New Jersey, but an overall attraction by nationwide horsemen to ensure Monmouth Park is on their summer calendar.

“Not only has the racing office done an amazing job working with our horsemen and ensuring the best possible product to the racing fans, but the same can be said for all our employees. From group sales to admissions, from mutuels to marketing, and of course operations and accounting. I am so appreciative to have such amazing people all working together for the betterment of Monmouth Park.

“We will take this year as a success and continue to build on this next year and for many years to come.”

The Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Stakes, Monmouth Park’s showcase event, saw a record handle of $21,359,642 for the 14-race card. Geaux Rocket Ride out-finished Kentucky Derby winner Mage to give Hall of Famer Richard Mandella his second Haskell win.

Lopez easily captured the Monmouth Park riding title for the ninth time in the past 11 years with 76 winners. His 10 overall titles are second only to Joe Bravo’s 13 in track history.

Gonzalez backed up his first training title at the track in 2022 with an outstanding meet as the runaway winner this year. His 46 winners were more than double the total of his nearest competitor.

Klaravich Stables finished as the leading owner with 13 wins, including victories in the Grade 3 WinStar Matchmaker Stakes, the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher Stakes and the Grade 3 Eatontown Stakes.

Madison Olver and Luis Rivera, Jr. tied for honors as the leading apprentice at the meet with 17 wins apiece. That was good for 10th place in the jockey standings.

Thoroughbred racing in New Jersey shifts to the Meadowlands in East Rutherford for a 10-day, all-turf meet that starts Friday, Sept. 15. The meet will run for five consecutive Fridays and Saturdays.