Businesses around Monmouth Park get ready for Saturday’s 53rd annual Haskell Invitational

The 53rd annual Haskell Invitational, one of the largest annual sporting events in New Jersey, will take place Saturday at Monmouth Park.

News 12 Staff

Jul 17, 2020, 2:18 PM

Updated 1,371 days ago

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The 53 annual Haskell Invitational, one of the largest annual sporting events in New Jersey, will take place Saturday at Monmouth Park. In years past, more than 50,000 people attend the Oceanport facility, but this year- it will look much different.
The majority of horse racing fans will have to settle to watch the event on TV. Just 1,500 tickets were sold to this year's running -- 500 for the grandstand, 500 for the picnic area, and 500 for the blue grotto restaurant.
But even with reduced crowds, businesses in the area who rely on the horse track for income, say they are looking forward to the tradition retuning. Enzo's Pizza and Subs’ owner Sabino Portella is getting ready for the Haskell weekend at his restaurant, located across the street from the facility.
“We need them and they bring a lot of people to the area,” says Portella. “They patronize all the local businesses and we couldn't be happier that they're opening."
Earlier this week, Monmouth Park CEO Dennis Drazen spoke with News 12 New Jersey. He says fans can expect to have their temperatures checked at the gates, and like other facilities, masks are required.
"It's a 300-acre property,” says Drazen. “We can hold 61,000 people, but we want people to understand when they look at Monmouth Park and they see how we're handling things, that they feel safe coming here."
For Portella, Haskell weekend means a sense of normalcy, and a chance to make up some lost revenue, a loss just about every small business owner is feeling. 

“They made it happen and thank God,” says Portella. “The officials, everybody works together, and that's the main thing. Everybody has to work together and open.”
The race will be broadcast live on NBC Saturday at 5 p.m. The park has set up what they call Haskell at Home, a fan and viewer guide to bring the race day experience to your living room, with fashion and food and drink recipes to make it almost feel like you're in Oceanport.


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