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May 08, 2015

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-MONMOUTH OPENING

By: JOE GIRARDI


               Monmouth Park opens their doors for the 70th season of racing on Saturday May 9th and runs through September 27th. First post will be 12:50 p.m. Monmouth is coming off back to back years with attendance and handle records and will look to continue that trend in 2015.

               According to the Monmouth website, Fans arriving on Opening Day will notice many new things even before spinning through the turnstiles.  Across the street, a freshly-paved parking lot will greet grandstand parkers.  In the paddock, a darker wood chip will be noticeably different than in years past as will a new addition to the wagering format.  Monmouth will now have a 50-cent Pick 5 on the first and last five races on the program with a 15% takeout.  If no one selects all five winners in a sequence, a carryover to the very next Pick 5 will ensue. Perhaps the biggest change won’t come on the racetrack but on the television set as Monmouth Park upgrades to high definition.  A crisp, clearer picture on Monmouth’s export signal will be coupled with HiDef in-house as Monmouth has added hundreds of new televisions throughout the facility.

As for what to expect this summer, a new off-track wagering facility is slated to open in Hillsborough as is the recently-constructed restaurant just outside the picnic area.  Exchange wagering has been approved and the fight to bring sports betting to New Jersey marches on.  Atop the Grandstand, new racecaller Frank Mirahmadi will call the action and the Jersey Shore Six will move to a 20-cent base wager.

When going to the windows at Monmouth in 2015 let’s take a look at the standings for last year’s meeting.

On the trainers side of things, Jorge Navarro repeated with a huge meeting with 43 wins, scoring with 27% of his runners and a very solid 59% of those runners finishing in the money. Eddie Plesa Jr, who finished second 34 wins and scored with 21% of his runners and hit with 49% in the money. However, he did finish in front of the top money earners for trainers with $1,148,802. Jason Servis checked in third with 24 wins with solid percentages of 29% winners and 63% in the money. David Jacobson, a top trainer from New York also had a good meeting scoring with 26% of his runners and 68% in the money checking in fourth with 23 wins. Daniel Lopez who only had 11 wins but only had 47 starters but hit with 62% in the money finishes. Alan Goldberg, another trainer that has supported New Jersey racing for many years only started 21 horses but did have 6 wins, and 57% in the money. Todd Pletcher, one of the top trainers in the country finished with 20 wins but did finish second in the money standings with $923, 476 and expect him to be very strong as always. When it comes down to the wire, we are looking for Navarro to have another strong meeting and defend his title, his horses are usually overbet but with the many exotics offered each day there is always the opportunity to create value.

On the jockeys side of things, Paco Lopez dominated the meeting in 2014 with 120 wins more than double the second place finisher who had 58. Lopez, scored with 28% of his winners and came in the money 61% of the time. He seems to have lost some business from his steady client, Eddie Plesa Jr and may make his repeating a more difficult task. Gabriel Saez, had a solid meeting checking in second with 58 wins, for 17%. Eddie Castro finished a solid third with 52 wins but he was hurt for a portion of the meeting and hit at a solid 19%. However, looks like Castro will spend the spring and summer in Florida. The fifth place finisher last year was the up and coming Trevor McCarthy who was hurt over the winter but has come back strong and is primed for a big meeting. Look for him to ride for some of the bigger outfits and give Paco a run for his money for the jockeys title.

               The owners title went to Monmouth newcomer White Wabbit Wacing who had a huge meeting and they expect to be right there again this year. Their main trainer is Jorge Navarro and if he continues his hot hand expect the Wabbit to be right there again come September.

               If you get a chance to come out to Monmouth Park this year, bring the family, it is a fun track to go to, to watch the races and the fact that it is on the Jersey Shore makes it a destination spot to hit before the summer is up.

               For more information about the Monmouth Park meeting visit, www.monmouthpark.com. Good luck!

              



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