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Monmouth Park pushing opening day back three weeks; Closing for simulcasting, sports betting

16th March, 20:37

Monmouth Park became the latest sports venue to alter its schedule on Monday, when the Oceanport racetrack announced it would push its opening day back from May 2, tentatively scheduled to be Kentucky Derby Day, to May 23.

In addition, the track will close for both simulcasting and sports betting at 8 p.m. on Monday night. It's all part of the nationwide measure being undertaken to contain the cornovirus outbreak.

Wagering will continue as normal on as well as on-line sports betting apps.

It's the latest in a series of recent setbacks for the track.

Last week two of Monmouth Park's top trainers, Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis, were named as promient figures in federal indictments handed down related to doping of racehorses with performance enhancing drugs. In addition, the cancelation of the NCAA Tournament, one of the biggest sports betting events of the year, along with postponments by the NBA, NHL and MLB, sidetracked what would have been a lucrative period in the Monmouth Park Sports Book by William Hill.

"Here in New Jersey we are fortunate to have great leadership who are addressing the safety of our friends and neighbors as well as the entire state," said Dennis Drazin, Chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, operators of the racetrack, addressing Monday's announcement in a statement. "Governor (Phil) Murphy has put plans in place to protect the citizens of New Jersey and we will remain in full compliance with those plans and reopen for sports betting and simulcasting when he deems same safe."

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Monmouth Park had opened on the first Saturday in May the previous three years. The new opening day is more in line with the track's traditional opening day on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, with the move made based on the recommendation of the Center for Disease Control to limit public gatherings to less than 50 people.

"The reality is, with a May 23 opening, we'll only miss 5 racing days," Drazin said. "We'd rather give plenty of notice now rather than continue on a wait and see approach. We firmly believe this slight delay will prove beneficial, across the board, in the long run."

The track will now delay the opening of its stabling area until May 1, with training set to commence the following day. The stable area was scheduled to open on April 11 with training to start April 15.

"I'm sure our fans and horsemen fully understand our decision making in this very tough time," Drazin said. "We appreciate their patience and look forward to reopening in the very near future and to an outstanding season of racing come Memorial Day weekend."