With a little more than three weeks until thoroughbred racing returns to Monmouth Park in Oceanport for its 76th season, post times have changed for the upcoming 53-day meet.
Monmouth Park will switch to a 12:15 p.m. post time during live racing on Saturdays and Sundays. Friday post times throughout the meet in New Jersey will be 5 p.m., according to a news release. It will continue to offer free parking and admission.
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The meet begins May 28 and concludes Sept. 26. There is a William Hill sportsbook at Monmouth Park for sports betting.
“With the overwhelming response from horsemen for stall space and fans able to return in greater numbers there’s a renewed sense of optimism and excitement for this meet, especially after the challenges we faced a year ago due to COVID-19,” Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, operators of Monmouth Park, said in the release. “I think everyone is looking forward to what should be a very special year of racing at Monmouth Park. All of the indicators are that it will be.”
The track should also be helped by Gov. Phil Murphy's announcement on Monday that outdoor venues can increase capacity limits in May.
The only exception to the new 12:15 p.m. post time will be the $1 million TVG.com Haskell Stakes on July 17. Parking and admission will also be charged for the 54th running.
Opening weekend will have four straight days of live racing (Friday through Monday) over the Memorial Day weekend. Beginning in June and running through the end of August, live racing will be on a Friday through Sunday schedule.
No outside food or drink will be permitted, a continuation of the policy from a year ago.
There will be 46 stakes races worth $6.15 million at Monmouth Park this year, including 10 graded stakes. Ten stakes races restricted to New Jersey-bred horses will be offered, with the highlight for state breds being the 19th annual New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival on Aug. 29.
There will be six stakes races on Haskell Day, including the Grade 1 United Nations, which will see a purse boost from $300,000 to $500,000 this year. Horse of the Year Authentic won the Haskell last summer, eventually going on to win the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic.