Robert Kulina, Monmouth's general manager, said that claiming races for the 50-day meet would bottom out at a price of $5,000, but that those races would offer purses of $30,000.
To protect local horsemen, Kulina
said, many of the bottom-level races will have conditions attached that restrict entries, for example, to horses that have not started for a claiming price of $12,500 or higher in the past year.
Not only will those restrictions allow local horsemen to compete, but the purse in the race will also reward successful trainers who will be facing far fewer opportunities to race this year while still maintaining the same amount of expenses.
In addition, Monmouth plans to pay a portion of purse money back to last place, though the exact amount has yet to be determined, Kulina
"We have to give our local guys meaningful money back to at least offset some of their expenses," Kulina
Purses for the track's stakes have not yet been determined, but Kulina
said that Monmouth
has no plans to double or triple its stakes purses at the expense of the overnight program.
Although several stakes that were previously held at the Meadowlands, such as the Meadowlands Cup and the Pegasus, will be moved to Monmouth
this year, purses for the races will likely remain at the same levels as last year, Kulina
said, and Monmouth's
most high-profile race, the Haskell Invitational for 3-year-olds, will continue to be worth $1 million.
acknowledged that the restricted races would find little wagering support in the out-of-state market, but he
said that Monmouth's plan to offer 12 races each day would give horseplayers ample opportunities to play open races.
"The fact of the matter is that every state has a statebred program, and you have to do things like that," Kulina
But Bob Kulina, vice president and general manager of Monmouth, and John Forbes, president of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, beg to differ.
While it came as a shock when Monmouth officials announced March 9 that the track would this year run a reduced 50-day meet from May to September with purses boosted to $1 million per day, Forbes and Kulina claim the move may actually save the local industry, which in its current state cannot begin to compete with neighboring states that benefit from the revenues of casino gaming.
said the new purse schedule at Monmouth
would include bottom level claiming races ranging from $5,000-$30,000; maiden special weight races at $75,000-$90,000; and overnight stakes at $100,000.
Eliminating Meadowlands' fall meet is a one-year experiment, and Kulina
plans to assess the decision over the summer in order to decide what will happen in the future.
An agreement has been made with New Jersey breeders to run two and a half New Jersey-bred programs a day, with the state-bred maiden special worth $75,000.
"They'll have the corresponding purses, and the New Jersey-breds will get a 20% bonus if they finish 1-2-3 in open races," said Kulina
"This is a wonderful thing for the New Jersey
breeders, and I think this is a win-win proposition for everybody.
We're making their rewards program whole and they are very happy.
They're going to have funding for an out-of-state New Jersey-bred program for the rest of the year.
So we think we have most the issues resolved."
said the goal for Monmouth's
2010 season is to consistently have 8- to 10-horse fields.
"We're working on a meaningful payback to horses that finish outside the money," he
"We think it's important that owners are rewarded for participation in fields.
We're trying to spread some of the money around, not only to the small owners, but to everybody, because it's a very costly game.
So we're doing some different things, and we're cautiously optimistic that this is a model that will work.
No matter what level the race is, if it's competitive, it's a good race."
realized that by cutting 50% of its race dates, Monmouth
will have to increase the handle on its existing races by 50% just to break even on revenue.
Monmouth Park General Manager Robert Kulina said planning for the dramatic change in the summer racing season began following the rain-plagued 2007 Breeders' Cup World Championships with the assistance of Dennis Drazin, former president of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.
"We saw what works; the player wants a better product with full fields," Kulina
said the purse of the Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1) for three-year-olds on August 1-the track's signature event-will remain at $1-million.
The Meadowlands Cup (G2) and Pegasus Stakes (G3) will be moved from the Meadowlands to Monmouth
The Violet Stakes (G3) and the Cliff Hanger Stakes (G3), both Meadowlands events, will not be run this year.
Monmouth's backstretch houses 1,600 horses.
is hopeful that many out-of-town outfits will ship to New Jersey
to take advantage of the new purse structure.
"Horsemen are free agents and go where the money is," Kulina
"I expect shippers from Churchill Downs when that meet closes and response in the [Mid-Atlantic] region should be solid."
expects solid wagering numbers on average fields of eight to ten horses per race.
admitted that handle on Monmouth racing will need to double in order to sustain a $1-million purse level in 2011, when the casino subsidy runs out.
"That's the gamble we're taking.
The [simulcast] signal will be stronger, more people will be paying attention to it, and we've made some soft projections," he
Sports Authority President and CEO Dennis Robinson, commission member Bob Mulcahy and Monmouth vice president and general manager Bob Kulina all declined to comment on the proposal last night, as did Christie's office.
"Everybody understands the situation and how serious it is," said Bob Kulina, the general manager for thoroughbred racing at Monmouth and Meadowlands.