Monmouth Park Opens For The 2022 Season With Plenty Of Upgrades

Monmouth Park is coming into a new age.

Different vantage points reflect an evolving facility, as the Oceanport oval opens its 77th live thoroughbred horse-racing meet Saturday at 2 p.m.

The $1 million Haskell Stakes returns July 23, when Monmouth Park becomes the focal point of the horse-racing world. Some graduates of Saturday’s $3 million Kentucky Derby (that can be wagered on at Monmouth Park at 6:57 p.m. and at 4NJBETS, powered by TVG) will enter the Haskell.

There are some notable changes.

They are reflected across the 62-day meet running through Sept. 18 and span different spectrums. Innovations include upgraded purses, a prominent new video scoreboard near the finish line, and scheduled groundbreaking of a $15 million on-site Caesars Sportsbook on the property during the summer.

Monmouth Park also will become a national pioneer, ushering in the fixed-odds wagering era in the US on Saturday. Bettors can lock in the odds of a race well in advance of the running, as opposed to getting post-time odds via pari-mutuel wagering.

Other states will follow in coming years, but Monmouth Park is well ahead of any establishment in the country for fixed-odds betting.

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Horse Racing At Monmouth Park

“There is a general excitement about getting the meet started and about everything starting to go back to normal,” Dennis Drazin, the head of Monmouth Park operator Darby Development, told NJGS.

“We are not in the acute state of the pandemic anymore. Things are more comfortable inside and outside the building. People are looking forward to coming out to Monmouth Park and the horsemen are excited to get started.”

Gamblers can also use the on-site Caesars Sportsbook to wager on numerous legalized sports-wagering activities.

Hours of operation:

  • Monday: 12-9 p.m.
  • Tuesday/Wednesday: 12-7 p.m.
  • Thursday: 12-9 p.m.
  • Friday: 12-10 p.m.
  • Saturday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • Sunday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Make your sports bets on-site at the Caesars Sportsbook at Monmouth Park, or online by downloading the Caesars NJ mobile sports app.

Monmouth Park’s Visual Splendor

The involvement of Caesars and Australian technology giant, BetMakers, are intertwined in the Monmouth Park business advance.

BetMakers became known to New Jersey bettors as the book or the bank enabling fixed odds. But part of its arrangement with Monmouth Park created a significant visual upgrade.

“They purchased a $2 million huge video board for us,” Drazin said. “It will replace the old one by the finish line. We think our fans will be excited by the new, enormous video board that we will have.”

A new state-of-the-art infield video board featuring nearly 3,800 square feet of digital LED and offering new camera angles for horses will debut.

Situated in front of the iconic tote board that was part of the Monmouth Park landscape for decades, the new video board will feature three sections.

The main screen measures 94.16 feet by 25.92 feet and will be bracketed by side screens measuring 37.8 feet by 17.64 feet, according to the Monmouth Park website.

Those screens will display live racing, the in-house handicapping segments, pool information, as well as both pari-mutuel odds and fixed odds. There are other graphics, too, including new horse camera angles.

To some, it will be more than a video board. It will be a symbolic testament to Monmouth’s new age, which includes the future Caesars Sportsbook.

The $15 million book will take about a year to complete once construction gets underway. It will be a transformative structure, turning New Jersey’s lone thoroughbred race track into a full-fledged participant in the legalized sports-betting age.

Upcoming Events At Monmouth Park

Here are some other highlights of the overall meet:

One is the upgraded purse structure, especially every weekend, as Monmouth will have 52 stakes races, 10 graded stakes, and a total payout of $8.305 million. There will be a six-figure event on at least one day every weekend.

And Haskell day is more than just one high-profile event. The track unfurls a powerful five-race Haskell undercard totaling $1.7 million. It includes:

  • $600,000 United Nations Stakes
  • $400,000 Monmouth Cup
  • $400,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes
  • $200,000 Matchmaker Stakes
  • $100,000 Wolf Hill Stakes

June 18 marks the first-ever Haskell Preview Day at Monmouth, featuring four stakes races designed as prep races for the Haskell day action.

The Pegasus Stakes (not to be confused with the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park) serves as the headlining race. It is the local prep race for the Haskell.

The June 18 card also features the following races:

  • Monmouth Stakes
  • Salvator Mile
  • Eatontown Stakes

Paco Lopez Defends Riding Title

Nationally-acclaimed jockey Paco Lopez will be seeking a ninth Monmouth Park riding title (only Joe Bravo with 13 has more) and is coming off a career year that saw him finish second nationally in wins.

Lopez set career bests in wins (322) along with earnings ($12,462,326), and easily topped the Monmouth Park standings with 110 winners a year ago.

He is named on mounts in seven of the eight races on the card. Lopez is scheduled to ride Dean’s List, the Gotham Stakes runner-up trained by Hall-of-Famer Todd Pletcher, in the featured $100,000 Long Branch Stakes.

Another change will occur at the track. Monmouth Park will be allowed to waive its stringent no-crop rule implemented last year. It prevented jockeys from whipping the horses either in an attempt to make them run faster or to guide them onto a safer running path.

Monmouth Park will operate under a crop rule that aligns with House Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) guidelines.

HISA crop rules go into effect on July 1 in an effort to create uniform rules nationally for racetracks. With the waiver, Monmouth Park is able to avoid having to start the meet with a no-crop rule before transitioning into the new crop rules two months into the meet.

Monmouth Park’s no-crop rule became an issue in the 2021 Haskell after Hot Rod Charlie was disqualified for clipping heels with Midnight Bourbon.

Flavien Prat, who rode Hot Rod Charlie, cited the rule as an impediment for his handling of the horse.

“Yes, the lack of a crop came into play,” he said. “I was trying to correct him as much as I could. If I could have hit him just one time left-handed, we would have been just fine, but it is what it is.”

 

AP Photo/Mel Evans

About the Author

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others.