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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Track regulars counted out

So the other shoe has dropped on the Monmouth Park faithful who had figured the Breeders' Cup races in October would be the highlight of their racing season, if not forever. The admission prices and seating plan are out - and so, alas, are those track regulars. Not at $50 for general admission standing room only and from $100 to $250 a person for seating areas. That's a far cry from the $2 regular grandstand admission and $4 for the clubhouse.

Blame it on the folks who run the Breeders' Cup. About half of the Saturday tickets are gone anyway, set aside for sponsors, horsemen, industry officials and other preferred customers. The extra money will help defray some of the costs - $30 million in capital improvements and overdue renovations - that the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority is spending.

"It's a championship event. We think the tickets are priced in line with other championship events,'' a Breeders' Cup spokesman said. Maybe so. But what about the regular patrons, some of whom pay for box seats, who have been at Monmouth through thick and thin and will be long after the Breeders' Cup is over. Pointing to the less expensive prices for the Friday program - $10 for the grandstand, $15 for the clubhouse and $40 to $75 for reserved seats - is hardly making the races more accessible to the general public. That's not the real championship day.

No doubt the Breeders' Cup will generate big bucks for the region and the state. But it's not really what Monmouth Park is all about.


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