Monmouth meet concludes, racing shifts to Meadowlands

Daily average handle at Monmouth Park rose 11.4 percent over 2022, the track announced Monday, and on-track handle was up 15 percent.

The track raced 11 fewer days, however, presenting 51 live cards versus 62 a year ago. As a result total handle for the season showed a decline.

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.”

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.

Paco Lopez and Claudio Gonzalez earned top honors among riders and trainers, respectively.

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.

Geaux Rocket Ride
Geaux Rocket Ride won the Haskell Stakes. Photo by Nikki Sherman/EQUI-PHOTO

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.

A pair of sprint stakes for New Jersey-breds will highlight the meet. The $65,000 Pinot Grigio Handicap for fillies and mares, 3 and up, is scheduled for five furlongs on Friday, Oct. 6. The next day, the $65,000 Joey P. Handicap for 3-year-olds and up, also at five furlongs, will headline the card on Saturday, Oct. 7.