Monmouth Park (Oceanport, NJ)
(Racing Dates: 07/03/2020 - 09/27/2020)
Monmouth Park's marquee event is the Haskell Invitational, named after Amory L. Haskell. The Haskell was first run in 1968 as a handicap, but was made into an Invitational Handicap in 1981. It is now a 1⅛-mile test for three-year-olds run in late July.
Monmouth Park also now showcases the Jersey Derby originally run at Garden State Park until its closure in 2001. The racetrack's season spans from early May to Labor Day in early September.
Three different buildings have been called Monmouth Park throughout the years. The original thoroughbred racing track was opened by the Monmouth Park Association on July 30, 1870 in Eatontown, New Jersey to increase summer tourism for communities along the Jersey Shore.
Monmouth Park early on earned the nickname as the "Newmarket of America" due to the excellence of its racing. However, after three years of being open financial issues caused the track to close.
In 1878, the track was bought by David D. Withers, George L. Lorillard, James Gordon Bennett, Jr., and George P. Wetmore. The men spent four years renovating the grounds and grandstand and reopened Monmouth Park in 1882. From 1882 to 1890, the track increased in popularity and as a result, a new racetrack was constructed next to the original. The new racetrack opened in 1890 becoming the second Monmouth Park.
However, legislation proposed in 1891 and enacted in 1894 barred parimutuel betting in New Jersey, and the track closed its doors. In May 1894, the Township Committee at Eatontown, New Jersey ordered the seizure and sale of the Monmouth Park Association's grandstand and other property for the payment of back taxes and on May 7 was sold at a public auction.
Some of the major races held at the Long Branch track included the Champion Stakes, the Freehold Stakes, and the Monmouth Cup. The United States Department of the Army later constructed Fort Monmouth on the site of the former racetrack.
The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority purchased Monmouth Park from its previous owners, the Monmouth Park Jockey Club, in 1985, in a deal valued at $45 million. The NJSEA still retains the corporate name "Monmouth Park Jockey Club".
The Vans Warped Tour, a touring music and extreme sports festival, was successfully held at the racetrack in 2010 and 2011. It marks the New York stop on the nationwide tour, which visits the area during July. In 2012, the festival moved to the PNC Bank Arts Center in nearby Holmdel, New Jersey due to financial considerations.
In 2011, a five-year lease was signed with Morris Bailey, co-owner of Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, to provide a marketing partnership between the casino and racetrack. The agreement allowed Resorts to sponsor the Haskell Invitational, and possibilities include a merging of loyalty programs as well as bringing entertainers' appearances at the casino to the racetrack. The program is part of a strategy to mesh horse racing with casino gambling.
In April 2013, Monmouth Park opened the Bluegrass Miniature Golf Course near the Port-au-Peck Ave. entrance. The Course features two 18-hole courses, the Haskell Course and the Triple Crown Course.
In July 2016, the luxury restaurant Blu Grotto, named after the Blue Grotto sea cave on the Italian island of Capri, opened at Monmouth Park. The restaurant is open year-round and is located near the racetrack's quarter-pole. The Beer Garden at Blu Grotto opened in 2017.
The main track is a one-mile (1.6 km) dirt oval with chutes for 6 furlong and 1¼ mile races.
The turf course is seven furlongs in circumference, with a diagonal chute for races between 1-mile (1.6 km) and 1⅛ miles. A re-design of the grass course for the 2006 season brought with it a new, second chute to accommodate 5½ furlong sprint races. Turf races can be run along the hedge, or with the portable rail out 12 feet (dubbed the "Haskell Course"), 24 feet ("Monmouth Course") or 36 feet ("Lennox Course").
The Stable Area, located directly to the north of the backstretch of the main track, contains a total of forty barns and stables, twelve north of the New Jersey Transit's North Jersey Coast Line (connected by its own service and access road) and twenty eight on the main complex.
The Wolf Hill Farm, which served Monmouth Park as a private stable and practice facility, is located adjacent to and immediately west of the main complex. Wolf Hill, owned and operated by the Valentino Family from the nearby City of Long Branch, New Jersey featured barns, stables and a practice track featuring a dirt oval and turf course identical to that at Monmouth Park's main facility only built to 50% scale.
The Valentino Family sold Wolf Hill Farm to the Monmouth Park Jockey Club in 1963 which then became part of the greater Monmouth Park Complex. It was transferred to state ownership in the 1986 takeover by the NJSEA and was eventually sold to the Monmouth County Park System in 1998 which now operates the site as Wolf Hill Recreation Area that features a 4-acre dog park, an 18-hole disc golf course, a baseball field and two softball fields.
While Wolf Hill ceased operating as a farm following the 1963 sale, owners and trainers continued to use Wolf Hill's practice track well into the 1990s. Remnants of the practice were clearly visible on the site until after the 2009 meet. After the 2009 meet, construction began in the Wolf Hill area, eliminating the last of the practice track.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia