Monmouth Park joins the American racetrack opening parade next week, announcing it will open its track and in-house William Hill sports book Thursday, July 2.

Monmouth Park Re-opening
New Jersey’s Monmouth Park will open at 25% capacity on July 2 for 37 days of racing. (Image: Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

What sets Monmouth Park apart from its top-tier track brethren in this COVID-19 era is that the New Jersey track will allow fans inside. Under New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s state reopening edict, Monmouth can allow up to 2,000 fans inside. That’s 25% of its 8,000 person grandstand capacity. It’s unclear how many fans will be allowed inside suite and clubhouse areas.

Murphy approved the track’s reopening late Monday as part of New Jersey’s Stage 2 reopening plan. It closed on March 16 at the outset of the US coronavirus outbreak. Thursday’s opening allows bettors inside for simulcast wagering and sports betting.

Haskell Keeps July 18 Date on Derby Trail

Racing begins at Monmouth Park on Friday, July 3. The 37-day meet runs Friday-Sunday until Sept. 27, highlighted by the July 18 Haskell Invitational. Normally one of the mid-summer mainstays for 3-year-olds, and traditionally an invitational, the Haskell became a stakes race on the Kentucky Derby Trail this year. It offers 100-40-20-10 Derby qualifying points.

Maximum Security won last year’s race, then – unlike the Kentucky Derby — survived a steward’s inquiry. This year, Bob Baffert’s multiple stakes-winner Authentic and Fountain of Youth winner Ete Indien are expected.

“We’re grateful for Gov. Murphy’s leadership throughout this pandemic and look forward to getting back to some semblance of business as usual in these times of a new normal,” said Darby Development LLC Chairman and CEO Dennis Drazin in a statement. “We know our fans are eager to return to Monmouth Park as we are to have them back.”

Darby Development operates Monmouth Park, which welcomes back owners to watch horses beginning on Friday. The track says more information on opening details will be forthcoming.

Monmouth Park Breaks From A-List Ranks by Allowing Fans

By allowing fans inside, Monmouth Park separates itself from major tracks such as neighbor Belmont Park, its New York Racing Association sister, Saratoga, Churchill Downs, Gulfstream Park, Laurel Park, and Santa Anita Park, which ended its winter/spring meet last Sunday. Three other tracks allowing spectators inside – albeit it on a limited capacity – are Lone Star Park in Texas, Canterbury Park in Minnesota, and Monmouth’s southern neighbor, Delaware Park.

On Tuesday, Delaware Park announced it is cutting total attendance from 3,000 to 1,000 to comply with state COVID-19 restrictions. Only 500 fans are allowed in the grandstand and clubhouse areas, with attendance monitored by wristbands given on a first-come, first-serve basis.

That track, which opened on June 17 and runs through Oct. 17, is gearing up for the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks on July 4.

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