A guy from Jersey: Monmouth Park remains a summer oasis
It was a summer rite.
Get in the car, walk down the Parkway to Exit 105, and head east to Oceanport, where Monmouth Park hosted its own version of Del Mar – where grass meets surf – albeit the ocean. Atlantic or 3 km from the finish. line to Monmouth.,
Oh, there were other reasons to head south in the summer.
The Jersey Shore of course, then entertainment venues such as the Stone
Pony in Asbury Park, which spawned a few people like Southside Johnny and a guy named Springsteen.
There was The Headliner in Neptune, where you could see some sets from The Fabulous Grease Band.
And there were food stops like Max’s for hot dogs in Long Branch and an assortment of choices along the boardwalk in Seaside Heights.
But for a guy from Jersey – not Wiseguy – and his friends who grew up in the ’60s and’ 70s, Monmouth Park was not an optional choice.
It was also friendly and clean, with a carnival atmosphere that is only surpassed in this country by Del Mar in Southern California and Saratoga in New York.
Like all of us, however, Monmouth has aged and endured stormy weather and was forced to make some mid-term adjustments just to survive.
The racing season, which begins its 76th year with a Twilight Six-Race card on Friday night, has been reduced to weekend entertainment – Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday this weekend and Friday, Saturday and summer all through throughout the summer until the last weekend. in September.
And the horses are not the main attraction, there is the sports betting which has made it a year round destination for those with an affinity game.
Where else could you place a $ 2 bet on a horse with odds of 158-1 – and win.
It happened in Monmouth on September 28 when Andrez Conquist won by fourth length over a 5-2 favorite named The Morman Mauler.
The payout for a winning $ 2 ticket was $ 319.80. A $ 2 exacta (first and second) paid $ 1,446.40.
What makes Monmouth special this season is that it will be the testing ground for a new rule passed last fall that prohibits the use of the horse whip of any kind other than for safety reasons.
This is, quite frankly, a controversial rule, with Monmouth being the only lead in the country to implement it.
The rule has already had potential consequences, with the highest level of jockeys in the country announcing that Monmouth Park is no longer part of their summer racing itinerary.
But then again, it is Jersey, which is also considering a first change in the country in the betting rules, with the odds on bets being frozen in the structure in real time (when made), rather than in the odds. race time odds.
This legislation could be implemented in mid-summer.
It’s also possible that legendary coach Bob Baffert, who deals with suspension issues in New York and Kentucky, is still awaiting a final decision regarding his drug-related involvement with Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit during the Monmouth’s signature event of each racing season, The Haskell, takes place on July 17th.
Baffert has been a staple of Haskell, his horses having won the race 9 times, including the appearance and triumph of the Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh in 2015.
Needless to say, Baffert would be welcome in Monmouth at any time.
But Monmouth is part of the backstory of a Jersey guy’s lifetime flirtation with horse racing.
There were adventures in Monmouth, as well as Saratoga and Del Mar – the same weekend – as well as smaller places such as Finger Lakes in New York, Gulfstream in Florida, Churchill Downs and Keeneland in Kentucky. and Suffolk Downs and Rockingham. Park in New England.
With the advent of online gaming, no track is off limits, no field is too small or too large to be considered.
But when you factor in location, amenities as well as history, Monmouth Park and the Jersey Shore in the summer are an exact combination that’s hard to beat.