Horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 37 years will run in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park Sunday. And the track is gearing up for a huge crowd.
Dennis Drazin, an adviser to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, predicts 60,000 fans will show up to see American Pharoah. But he doesn’t expect the track, leased by the association from the state, to profit.
“We’re probably spending $5 million between the Haskell purse, the undercard, everything that goes with putting on the show,” Drazin said Wednesday. “You’re never going to make that kind of money. The long- term impact is that when people get a taste of what we have to offer here, they’re going to come back, they’re going to become fans.”
After years of operating at a loss, the track became profitable last year, and Drazin is optimistic about its future. And he’s committed to making sure that the track survives.
“Whatever we need to do,” he said. “If we need to reduce days to keep the purses competitive, if we need to figure out other ways to hang on, but what we do here at Monmouth Park is we put on a good show. We have a of families, family entertainment. We know how to draw the public in here.”
Drazin, who said he believes sports betting will eventually become legal in the state, said the track could share in the revenue if a casino is authorized in North Jersey.
New Jersey is the only state where horse racing does not get revenue from alternative forms of gaming, said Bob Kulina, president of Monmouth Park Racetrack.
“That’s a major issue on the long term survival of Monmouth Park. Hopefully putting on an event of this magnitude will show the people of New Jersey in Trenton that we are a great industry, we are a major entertainment venue,” he said.
Kulina said he sees a bright future for racing in New Jersey.
“You come here Saturdays and Sundays, we have a lot of young people, young families. The biggest segment of the population is the baby boomers. It’s supposed to be the richest segment of our society,” he said. “So I think our specific demographics is growing, not shrinking, contrary to the public opinion.”
Fans can see American Pharoah when the horse gallops on the track about 7:30 Friday and Saturday mornings. He will also be in the paddock area during the first race on Friday.