When it comes to horse racing, visitors and residents alike have no shortage of choices with three tracks that feature harness and thoroughbred racing at its best.
Freehold Raceway, in Freehold, is the nation's oldest and fastest daytime half mile harness racing track and home to the Cane Pace, which is the first leg in the Triple Crown of Harness Racing for Pacers.
Located in central New Jersey, in the historic town of Freehold, Freehold Raceway was established in 1853 and features live Standard bred harness races for trotters and pacers. The raceway’s season funs from August through early June.
The racetrack is also open seven days a week and seven nights for year round thoroughbred and harness racing simulcasts from tracks throughout North America.
Nearby, in Oceanport, is Monmouth Park, which hosts thoroughbred racing. Monmouth Park has been a Shore tradition since 1870. It’s also the home of the $1 million Haskell Invitational that’s held every August. On Haskell Day, admission gates open at 10 am with the first race at noon.
In addition to all the great racing, Monmouth Park hosts numerous special and family events. Every Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. is Family Fun Day Starting “On the Green” and spreading all the way to the picnic area, visitors will find clowns, face painters, live music, pony rides, a bounce house, the park’s mascot Cocoa Puff and more.
In addition, there is a playground in the picnic area and an arcade on the first floor of the Grandstand.
Monmouth Park has a variety of dining options from casual concessions to upscale dining in the dining terrace.
East Rutherford is home to the Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment, part of the Meadowlands Sports and Entertainment Complex that features MetLife Stadium, which is home field to the New York Giants and New York Jets. And there’s the IZOD Center that hosts major concerts and family-friendly events throughout the year.
Live harness racing began at the Meadowlands in 1976 before an opening day crowd of 42,133. Nighttime harness racing was an immediate hit in New Jersey and racing was about to change for the better - and for the bettor.
The following year thoroughbred racing debuted at the racetrack before a crowd of 25,158. The Meadowlands Racetrack is also host to the world’s most famous trotting event, the Hambletonian, which has had a number of different homes and was first held at the Meadowlands on Aug. 8, 1981.
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