Oceanport — In the wake of the recent controversy regarding fees assessed to horsemen who shipped to Suffolk Downs, Monmouth Park has announced that an anonymous “angel” has stepped forward and donated $60,000 to Second Call.
While normally Monmouth Park, mananged by the NJ Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, does not charge to ship horses to other tracks, controversey among some owners erupted in early August when the track announced it would charge $1,000 to ship horses to Suffolk Downs for a race.
Unlike most tracks, Suffolk Downs does not have a stable area, and thus never has horses come to Monmouth Park. In most cases, when horses are shipped to a track to race, it’s with the assumption that the other track will be spending money on its own shipping, to send horses to the Oceanport track when they want to race here.
But the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, saying that it received no potential benefits, only costs, asked owners whose horses were stabled at Monmouth Park to pay $1,000 for going to Suffolk Downs.
This angered several horse owners, who argued that they were already paying Monmouth Park well. Some said they were considering finding another place to keep their horses.
A nonprofit organization founded in 2012, Second Call Thoroughbred Adoption and Placement is dedicated to New Jersey’s off-track Thoroughbreds. It serves as the exclusive after care program for Monmouth Park. The mission of the volunteer driven Second Call is to assist and ensure that retired racehorses find a second calling/profession. Thoroughbreds accepted into the program are rested, evaluated, reacclimated, retrained and placed into new homes.
“A very kind benefactor came forward with a very large contribution because he wanted peace, even though he agreed with our original policy,” said John Forbes, president of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “The money, which was always earmarked for charity, will go to Second Call and their good work to place retired horses with new homes.”
Suffolk Downs, which races six days a year without providing any stabling on their grounds, last raced on Aug. 6 and 7. Horsemen at Monmouth Park were told in advance that if they shipped from the Oceanport grounds to race at Suffolk they would have to pay $1,000 per horse upon return.
“Let me be as clear as possible, the intent was never to punish horsemen,” Forbes said. “We are here to promote Monmouth Park and Monmouth racing, period. Suffolk Downs offers nothing in return, no reciprocity. The only thing they can do is take.
“Monmouth Park expends millions to maintain a stable area, training surface and provide workers’ compensation insurance for trainers on our grounds. In addition we provide a bonus to every trainer who races with us. The overwhelming consensus from the horsemen on our grounds was an absolute adoption of our policies. Controversy only came to light by those who decided to ship out, even though they all had advance notice, and were assessed the fee.
“Like all racetracks, we do everything we can, and will continue to do all we can, to ensure that races across all conditions go. Obviously it doesn’t always work out for everyone and therefore we are adopting a new policy whereby any horse that wants to ship from Monmouth Park to Suffolk Downs will need the approval of the racing secretary prior to leaving the grounds. It is expected, as it is always expected, if Monmouth cards a race, horses stabled here are expected in that race. Anyone that leaves without the racing secretary’s permission will not be allowed back. It is a straight forward policy and one that everyone involved should certainly understand.”
Monmouth Park’s 2016 racing season runs through Sunday, Sept. 25 after which New Jersey Thoroughbred racing action shifts north to the Meadowlands for 14 all-turf cards, beginning Sept. 28.