Monmouth Park Racetrack

Monmouth Park stakes, track and visitor's guide

Historic Monmouth Park, which first opened in 1870, is the only New Jersey racetrack with a live thoroughbred racing season.

The track operates during the summer with daytime racing. It is well-known for conducting some of the industry’s most significant races such as the Haskell Invitational Stakes, won by some of the nation’s premier horses every year.

Monmouth Park has also hosted the multi-million-dollar Breeders Cup, the most prestigious and high-profile two-day event in America’s horse racing industry. Other major Monmouth Park races include the United Nations, the Matchmaker, and the Molly Pitcher.

The track also features the William Hill Sportsbook and was the first location in New Jersey to accept a legalized sports wager in 2018.

This page is a guide to Monmouth Park racing history, top races, schedules, amenities, and more.

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Monmouth Park Racetrack

Address: 175 Oceanport Ave, Oceanport NJ

First opened: July 30, 1870

Owner: New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority

Operator: Darby Development

Racing season: May-September. The 2020 season ends Sept. 27.

Post Times: Fridays at 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 12:50 p.m. for 2020. Racing occurs during the daytime. There are no lights.

Parking: Free parking and admission for the 2020 season with the exception of July 18.

Monmouth Park history in New Jersey

Monmouth Park has been a Jersey Shore tradition since 1870. Three buildings have carried its name.

First two eras

The track was a result of the innovative ideas of New York businessman John F. Chamberlain, New Jersey Senate President Amos Robbins, and Adams Express Company President John Hoey in an effort to increase summer trade for the once-bustling shore communities.

Their ploy worked, and Monmouth Park opened its inaugural five-day meet amid much national fanfare.

Due to the high caliber of its racing, Monmouth racing achieved distinction as the “Newmarket of America” — a reference to the famed racecourse in England. Three years after the first Monmouth Park was opened, financial difficulties forced the track to close.

Racing returned to Monmouth Park under a syndicate of George L. Lorillard, D.D. Withers, G.P. Wetmore, and James Gordon Bennett. They spent four years restoring the grounds and rebuilding the grandstand. And in 1882, the rebuilt Monmouth Park opened its gates.

Due to its overwhelming popularity, a new racecourse was built adjacent to the existing track. In 1890, the second Monmouth Park opened. But New Jersey racetrack’s gates were not open for long.

In 1891, the Monmouth Park meet was moved to Jerome Park and Morris Park while state legislation tried to suppress pari-mutuel wagering. The state was ultimately successful, and on March 21, 1894, banned wagering on horses.

The track was closed and the land sold. Racing would not return for more than 50 years.

Modern era

The current Monmouth Park structure dates back to 1946.

During the 1940s, Amory L. Haskell played a major part in lobbying to legalize pari-mutuel wagering for both the standardbred and thoroughbred industries. The Haskell Invitational is named in his honor.

On June 19, 1946, for the third time and after a 53-year hiatus, Monmouth Park reopened its doors. Under the new leadership of Haskell, Philip H. Iselin, Reeve Schley, Joseph M. Roebling, Townsend B. Martin, John MacDonald, and James Cox Brady, the Monmouth Park Jockey Club was born.

Iselin became chairman of the construction committee and was named treasurer of the Monmouth Park Jockey Club. In later years, after the death of Haskell, he would take over as president of the track.

The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority purchased Monmouth Park in 1986 and many of the historic, century-old stakes races were reinstated, with the Monmouth Cup, inaugurated in 1884, renamed the Philip H. Iselin Handicap.

Monmouth course and track

The main track is a one-mile (1.6 km) dirt oval with chutes for six furlong and 1¼ mile races.

The turf course is seven furlongs in circumference, with a diagonal chute for races between 1-mile (1.6 km) and 1⅛ miles. A re-design of the grass course for the 2006 season brought with it a new, second chute to accommodate 5½ furlong sprint races.

Turf races can be run along the hedge, or with the portable rail out 12 feet (dubbed the Haskell Course), 24 feet (Monmouth Course), or 36 feet (Lennox Course).

Monmouth Park amenities

Picnic Area

With more than 100 umbrella tables extending nearly the entire length of the stretch, this location is one of Monmouth’s most popular spots.

Kids can play on the large playground while the adults throw hot dogs on the barbecue. Charcoal grills are allowed, gas grills are not. For those hosting a private party, three Picnic Plans are available for groups of 45 and above. Picnic tables are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

To reserve a private picnic area call: 732-571-5544

Seating

Clubhouse and Grandstand boxes are available to rent based on availability.

To rent a box for a day, visit the Reserved Seats booth located on the second floor of the Grandstand (also accessible from the third floor Clubhouse). Clubhouse and Grandstand boxes may be rented for the entire season for a flat rate. Contact Group Sales at 732-571-5580 to inquire about renting a box for the season.

Food and drink

Monmouth Park has a wealth of dining establishments. They include:

  • Blu Grotto Ristorante and Beer Garden
  • The Dining Terrace
  • Lady’s Secret Café
  • William Hill Sports Bar
  • Paddock Bar

Blu Grotto Ristorante offers outdoor casual fine dining on the deck Wednesday/Thursday 5-9 p.m., Friday/Saturday 5-10 p.m., and Sunday 3-9 p.m. Takeout remains available Thursday-Sunday from 3-8 p.m.

Adjacent to the Monmouth Park Sports Book by William Hill, the William Hill sports bar is open seven days a week serving game day food and drink. It features more than 50 HDTVs.

2020 Monmouth Park stake races and prestige

Monmouth Park has a star-studded collection of significant races throughout the season. In 2020, the biggest day of the year is Haskell Day on July 18. It will feature $2 million in graded stakes.

The lineup includes:

  • Grade I Haskell, with a $1 million purse that attracts the best 3-year-old horses in the country.
  • Grade I United Nations, $300,000
  • Grade 3 Monmouth Cup, $300,00
  • Grade 3 Molly Pitcher, $250,000
  • Grade 3 Matchmaker for $150,000

Monmouth Park dates with graded races

GradeRace NamePurseDate
Grade 3Monmouth Oaks$150,000Aug. 1
Grade 3Iselin$200,000Aug. 22
Grade 3Eatontown$150,000Aug. 29
Grade 3Red Bank$150,000Sept. 5
Grade 3Salvator Mile$150,000Sept. 20

On Oct. 26 and 27, 2007, Monmouth Park hosted the prestigious Breeders’ Cup for the first time in its history. The Breeders’ Cup, a multi-million-dollar showcase, is the biggest day in all of horse racing. Running the event is the equivalent of hosting a Super Bowl.

The 2007 event also marked the first time the event has been held over two days and also the creation of three new races held on Day 1 of the championships. Other notable moments at Monmouth include:

  • Monmouth Park hosted 60,983 fans on Haskell Day in 2015, when a record crowd showed up to see Triple Crown winner American Pharoah run, and win.
  • The track appears in the 1984 film classic The Pope of Greenwich Village.
  • Monmouth Park was featured in a 1996 episode of The Equalizer TV Series entitled “Tip on a Sure Thing.”
  • Law & Order filmed an episode at Monmouth Park entitled “Sport of Kings” in 2005.

Haskell highlights

The Haskell Invitational Stakes is one of horse racing’s premier races and it’s hosted at Monmouth Park every year in July or August. It generally bridges the Belmont Stakes in June and the Breeders Cup in October and November. The 1 1/8-mile race has been won by famous horses throughout its history. The Haskell was first run in 1968.

American Pharoah, who won the 2015 Triple Crown series, captured the Haskell the same year he won those races — the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes.

Maximum Security, the 2019 race winner, later won the sport’s richest individual race, the $20 million Saudi Cup, in 2020.

Other notable winners through the years include Kentucky Derby-winning Big Brown, Preakness champions Exaggerator and Rachel Alexandra, along with Belmont Stakes winner Bet Twice. War Emblem won the Haskell the same year he won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2002.

Four Horse of the Year winners captured the Haskell the same year. They are Holy Bull (1994), Point Given (2001), Rachel Alexandra (2009), and American Pharoah (2015).

For 2020, Monmouth Park offered a $1 million bonus to any horse that can win the Haskell Invitational, the Kentucky Derby and Breeders Cup Classic.

The $1 million Haskell will be contested for the 53rd time. The $3 million Kentucky Derby will be run Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs.

Sports betting at Monmouth Park

Dennis Drazin of Monmouth Park, who spearheaded the effort to make sports betting legal in New Jersey and ultimately throughout the US, was inducted into the Sports Betting Hall of Fame in 2019.

Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development, operator of Monmouth, waged a nearly seven-year legal battle to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), with the US Supreme Court ruling in his favor on May 14, 2018.

The decision paved the way for legalized sports betting in NJ and across the country after being restricted to just four states since 1992.

Monmouth Park was the site of sports wagering history. It accepted the first legal sports bet in New Jersey on June 14, 2018, after partnering with William Hill US. This means you can bet on horses in NJ as well as most sports while at Monmouth.

William Hill Sports Book at Monmouth

The William Hill Sports Book is open seven days a week. It is located on the first floor of the Grandstand. Watch every big game on over 100 HDTVs and a 75-foot video wall.

The sportsbook is open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.

Monmouth Park FAQ

Where is Monmouth Park?

Monmouth Park is located at 175 Oceanport Ave., Oceanport, NJ. The track is accessible off of Garden State Parkway exit 105 and route 36 East.

What Grade 1 horse races does Monmouth Park host?

The Haskell Invitational and United Nations Handicap.

Can you bet on sports at Monmouth Park?

Yes. The William Hill sportsbook takes betting on all major sports. Fans can bet horse races at Monmouth Park and wager on other events such as professional baseball, football, etc.

Does Monmouth Park have an online sportsbook?

William Hill, which operates out of Monmouth Park and in other locations in Atlantic City, does have an online book for New Jersey bettors: William Hill online sportsbook. However, there is no self-named Monmouth Park sportsbook app.

Does Monmouth Park have casino gambling?

No. Casino gambling in New Jersey is only legal in Atlantic City.

What are common horse racing bets available at Monmouth?

There are many different types of bets. For beginners, it’s best to start simple:

Win: Your horse must come in 1st.

Place: Your horse must come in 2nd or higher.

Third: Your horse must come in 3rd or higher.

Then there are the exotic bets. These include:

Exacta: Your horses must finish first AND second, in the exact order.  Exacta boxes are highly recommended. A $2 exacta box, for instance, costs $4. Thus, if you have the right two horses in the first two spots, they can be either first or second.

Trifecta: Your horses must finish first, second AND third

Superfecta: Your horses must finish first, second, third AND fourth

Daily Double: You must pick the winner of two consecutive races

Pick 3: You must pick the winner of three consecutive races

Pick 4: You must pick the winner of four consecutive races

Pick 5: You must pick the winner of five consecutive races

Pick 6: You must pick the winner of six consecutive races

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