Home to the oldest racetrack in the United States, New Jersey boasts a rich horse racing history.
The NJ horse racing industry dates back to the 1830s at Freehold Raceway, a track that continues to operate almost 200 years later. Currently, you can watch and bet on live standardbred and thoroughbred racing at three racetracks in the Garden State.
There’s also legal off-track and account wagering in New Jersey so you can watch and bet on horse races from across the globe at Atlantic City casinos with racebooks, off-track wagering facilities around the state and online sites like TVG.
This page includes a complete overview of horse racing in New Jersey, including everything you need to know about the state’s racetracks, the most popular races in the country, and how you can bet on horse racing, online and off, right here at home.
Horse racing dates back to the 1830s at Freehold, but it was still illegal to bet on horse races in New Jersey until 1939 when voters backed an amendment allowing pari-mutuel betting at in-state racetracks.
Six decades later, New Jersey lawmakers passed the Off-track and Account Wagering Act in 2001. This made it perfectly legal to bet on horse races in four types of places:
New Jersey’s Off-track and Account Wagering Act makes account wagering on horse races perfectly legal in the state.
That means NJ residents 18 years old or older are free to open an account and bet on local and simulcast races from around the world.
When you join TVG and have your account setup, you can place bets:
You can open a TVG account to bet on horse races using just a minimal amount of personal information, including:
Once it’s open, you’re going to need to fund your account before you can place bets. Fortunately, TVG offers a variety of deposit options for you to choose from, including: BetCash (ACH/eCheck), Debit/Credit Card, TVG Prepaid Card, PayNearMe, PayPal, Gift Cards, Wire Transfer, Deposit at the track, Money orders and checks.
Close to a dozen racetracks have come and gone in NJ’s almost-200 year history of live horse racing. Today, three racetracks remain in the Garden State, offering live standardbred and thoroughbred racing, simulcast racing and pari-mutuel betting on all of it.
Races have been held at what is now central New Jersey’s Freehold Raceway since the 1830s. The track was officially established in 1853, making it the first racetrack in the United States.
In East Rutherford’s Meadowlands Sports Complex, the Meadowlands has live thoroughbred and harness racing. Notable annual races include the Hambletonian.
Monmouth Park features thoroughbred racing on the Jersey Shore. Notable annual races include the Haskell Invitational.
The Off-track and Account Wagering Act makes it legal for Atlantic City casinos to open racebooks and offer pari-mutuel wagering on simulcast races from NJ racetracks and horse racing facilities across the globe.
Currently, only one casino has:
The only place in Atlantic City where you can bet on horse racing. Located across from the Borgata Hotel Casino North Entrance and Poker Room. Formerly known as the Racebook, Borgata’s Race and Sports Book now takes sports bets as well.
Features 100 seats with individual flatscreen monitors, 10 betting windows, and self-serve kiosks for horse racing bets.
Plus, the Boot and Whip bar features a video wall displaying live events and races.
The Off-track and Account Wagering Act makes it legal for off-track wagering facilities to launch in the state and offer pari-mutuel wagering on simulcast races from NJ racetracks and horse racing facilities around the world.
The NJ Racing Commission lists the following licensed off-track wagering facilities:
Betting on a horse race is much easier than it may seem. Sure, there are some complicated names for the bets you can place, but they’re all relatively straightforward.
Whether you’re betting on a live standardbred or thoroughbred race at one of the three racetracks in NJ, or a simulcast race at the track, an Atlantic City casino racebook, an off-track wagering facility or online with 4NJBets — the following basic and more advanced bets are available:
Straight bets are about picking winners, and who might finish in the top three in any race. Basic straight bets include:
Exotics offer a little more variety, and often bigger odds, but these bets are still primarily about picking winners, and who might finish in the top three in any race. These bets include:
You can wheel any of these exotic bets. This is like fixing the finishing position of some horses and adding bets with more horses for later finishing positions to make various winning combinations.
You ‘key’ the horses you like at the top and mix in more possibilities to save money over boxing while giving you additional opportunities to win.
The biggest event in US horse racing is actually three events. The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, or just the Triple Crown, is a trio of races held annually from May to early June featuring the top three-year-old thoroughbreds.
The horses vie to become a Triple Crown winner by winning all three:
Only 13 horses have won the Triple Crown. The first Triple Crown winner was Sir Barton in 1919.
Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978 and there was a 37-year drought following his win. American Pharoah broke that 37-year streak in 2015. Justify took the title in 2018 and was the last Triple Crown winner.
Twenty-three horses have won the first two legs but failed to complete the Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes.
The Haskell Invitational is a race for three-year-old thoroughbreds that typically runs in July at Monmouth Park in New Jersey following the Triple Crown.
The race has been around since 1968 but became an invitation-only $1 million stakes race for three-year-olds on a 1 1⁄8 miles track in 1981.
The 2020 edition is the 52nd Haskell Invitational Stakes and it is scheduled for Saturday, July 18, 2020.
The Hambletonian is an American harness race for three-year-old standardbreds. It is the first leg in the Triple Crown of Harness Racing. The race is typically run at Meadowlands Racetrack on the first Saturday in August with a $1 million purse.
The 95th Hambletonian is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020.
Historians claim there has been horse racing in New Jersey since the late 1700s and early 1800s. Freehold Raceway, which started hosting races as far back as the 1830s, is considered the oldest racetrack in the US.
Large racetracks in Ho-Ho-Kus, Clifton, North Bergen, Paterson, Vernon and Long Branch began operating in the 1860s and 1870s. The Long Branch Racetrack, now Monmouth Park, opened as New Jersey’s first grand racing venue in 1870.
New Jersey made it illegal to bet on horse racing in 1894, but the sport did not leave the state.
Races were held at various tracks, including Weequahic Park in Newark and the Long Branch Racetrack in Oceanside.
Following the 1939 amendment that allowed pari-mutuel betting, Garden State Park in Cherry Hill opened in 1942, followed by Monmouth Park at Long Branch and Atlantic City Race Track in Mays Landing in 1946. These three tracks made up New Jersey’s Golden Triangle of thoroughbred racing.
The launch of Atlantic City casinos killed the action at Garden State Park and the Atlantic City Race Track and both eventually closed. However, Monmouth Park and Freehold Raceway remained in operation.
The Meadowlands started hosting harness and thoroughbred racing in the late 1970s and continues to do so today.