By Michael Hill
The big cleanup after Monmouth Park’s biggest day ever with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah racing to victory at the 48th Haskell Invitational before a record crowd of nearly 61,000 spectators, among them racing analyst Dan Montesano.
“I think on every level Monmouth absolutely hit a home run. The place looked beautiful. The place was packed, a new attendance record. The parking and the transportation which were initially thought to be a little bit of a concern was no problem. It was very easy to get around, very easy to make your bets. It was just really a spectacular showcase for horse racing yesterday,” Montesano said.
“American Pharoah wasn’t the only winner,” said NJ Transit Executive Director Veronique Hakim.
New Jersey Transit ran special trains to Monmouth.
“And it was a good day for New Jersey Transit riders. We moved over 6,000 customers in and out of Monmouth Park. As you know, that’s not a regular New Jersey Transit station. It doesn’t look like our stations,” Hakim said.
Hotels on the Jersey Shore typically do well on summer weekends. Not so much on Sunday nights. But this Sunday night was much different, thanks to American Pharoah.
“[Occupancy was] 98/99 percent, which is great for a Sunday,” said Sheraton Eatontown Hotel Sales Manager Sal Giorgio, who added more than likely those were people in the area for the race.
“He looked like he had gotten better since his Belmont run,” Montesano said.
Montesano says he saw something that holds potential for the racing industry at Monmouth.
“It was nice to see a lot of younger people out there who may or may not have ever been to the track before but they wanted to be a part of it. And hopefully the excitement and the event and the show will bring them back to the track in the future,” he said.
“I think they got what they expected and more,” said Monmouth Park Racetrack Media Relations DirectorJohn Heims.
And so did Monmouth Park Racetrack. Heims says it was a record-setting handle — more than $20 million bet on the 14 races.
“So certainly a good day for us, a good day for New Jersey and a great day for racing fans,” Heims said.
The racetrack says the whole region won economically with the first Triple Crown winner to ever race here.
“It’s certainly very difficult to quantify what those numbers are but everybody in Monmouth County, everybody across state of New Jersey — I mean hotels, restaurants. People came from everywhere. I know I had people flying in from all over the world to cover this from a media perspective and it was just non stop,” Heims said.
Non-stop like the racing sensation they raced to Monmouth to see.