Monmouth Park waiting on multimillion-dollar subsidy for horse racing

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OCEANPORT -

New Jersey has brought in over $1 billion in revenue in sports betting since it was made legal last year.

Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport alone made millions – but the owners say that they need more revenue to survive.

They are banking on a subsidy from the state to contribute to racing purses. The $20 million subsidy has been approved in the state Legislature. But now the horse racing industry is waiting for lawmakers to vote on it.

Monmouth Park officials say the subsidy is important for scheduling. A higher purse means better talent coming to race.

Officials say they are used to waiting. They are forced to make changes every year to benefit races, including the date of the Haskell Invitational – one of horse racing’s most well-known races.

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The Haskell Invitational is typically held on the last weekend of July or in early August. But this year, to accommodate a live airing on NBC, Monmouth Park has moved the race to Saturday, July 20.

There is a risk involved in moving the race. An earlier race could mean that well-known racing horses, like Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh, may not have enough time to recover from the previous horse race, the Belmont Stakes.

"The trainers will make the right decisions to get them here if they're ready. If they're not ready, they'll pass,” says Monmouth Park manager Dennis Drazin.

Drazin says that for the days leading up to the big race, he is considering raising the purses to attract top competition. But he says that he really needs the five-year subsidy from the state that would pay $10 million to Monmouth Park.

"This purse subsidy is going to help give breeders the understanding that there's a future here in New Jersey,” Drazin says.

Sports betting has helped show that there is a future for sports in New Jersey. Monmouth Park has brought in $12.4 million in gross revenue in just seven months.

"We're all pleased. Everyone associated with sports betting in the state is smiling these days,” Drazin says.

Monmouth Park last month partnered with its third gaming company as they team up with TheScore. They also have deals with William Hill and SugarHouse.

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