Trainers have begun to arrive at Monmouth Park in preparation for the 53-day meet starting May 28th. The meet kicks off with three days of racing over the Memorial Day weekend holiday.
Trainer Chuck Spina was the first to arrive, getting prepared for his 51st year at the track. The meet is Monmouth's 76th season and will run through September 26th.
"I'm not always the first to get here but I'm usually among the first," said Spinal, 72-years-old. "I'm excited to be back. I don't go to Florida over the winter. We freshen up our horses. So I'm anxious to get back and get going." BRIDGE TO BROOKLYN was the first horse to unload and settled into Barn 14 for the trainer.
Stall space was in high demand this year according to John Heims, the track's director of racing and racing secretary. "The response from the horsemen for stall space has been outstanding. We're oversubscribed for the first time in quite some time, and it's a great position to be in. We'll do all we can to accommodate as many horsemen as we can, who in turn will allow us to put on a tremendous racing product for fans all summer long. There's a buzz about getting back to Monmouth park and the reality is we can't wait to get started."
Trainer Kelly Breen, a New Jersey native, won his third Monmouth Park training title last summer and is coming to the meet with a strong contingent. Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is back as well along with trainer Chad Brown. Todd Pletcher is sending a high quality string of horses as well. Steve Asmussen is coming to the track for the first time and Saffie Joseph, Jr. is coming as well. All three will have full barns.
The track is hosting 46 stakes overall with 10 graded worth $6.15 million. The centerpiece will be the $1 million Haskell Stakes on July 17th.
The next question is, with the new New Jersey whip rules, which jockeys will show up to ride these horses?
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