Photo by R.C. Staab, 100 Things to Do Jersey Shore
"And they're off"this Friday, July 3, as thoroughbred horse racing returns to New Jersey with fans in the stands at Monmouth Park in West Long Branch.
Unlike indoor dining, gyms and music venues, Governor Phil Murphy has been signaling his support for the return of horse racing to the state since early April. Initially, the shortened season was to start without fans, but as part of the state's Stage 2 re-opening efforts, Murphy announced last week fans can return at 25% of capacity -- roughly 4,000 people. Having been there last summer for a Friday race, I can attest that large grandstand, the area around the track and the clubhouse provides ample room for social distancing.
To serve as an inducement to shake off the COVID-19 blues, Monmouth Park is offering free admission and free parking except for the track's premier event, $1 million TVG.com Haskell Invitational on July 18. In addition to live racing, the park offers sports book betting, outdoor dining and a beer garden from Blu Grotto Restaurant and regular family activities including horse-themed Bluegrass Mini Golf.
It's not necessary to know anything about thoroughbred racing to sit back, relax, bet a few dollars and cheer the horses around the track.
Races are Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday every weekend through September 27.
The park is on Route 36 half way between Exit 105 of the Garden State Parkway and the ocean at Long Branch.
Get more tips and info about Monmouth Park and Jersey Shore attractions, historic sites, entertainment, sports and shopping with the new book, 100 Things to Do at the Jersey Shore available for purchase here.