If you're looking for a fun day trip during your Jersey Shore vacation, plan an outing to Monmouth Park racetrack in Long Branch, New Jersey, and spend the afternoon watching the thoroughbred horses in action. Monmouth Park is home to the legendary Haskell Invitational, which takes place the last Sunday in July. Here is the Belmar Beachcomber's guide to a day at the races at Monmouth Park Racetrack.
Races are held Friday through Sunday between May and mid September. Gates open at 11:30 a.m., and the first race starts at at 12:50 p.m. The schedule is slightly different on Haskell day, when the park opens at 10 a.m. and the first race runs at noon.
Getting there Monmouth Park is located in Long Branch, New Jersey, about 15 miles north of our shore house rental in Belmar. The track is an easy drive via Route 35 north with plenty of on-site parking ($5 self-park, $10 valet).
If you'd rather take the train, New Jersey Transit (North Jersey Coast Line) service is available on race weekends from Belmar to the Monmouth Park train station in Oceanport. New Jersey Transit offers a special promotional package that also includes round-trip train tickets, admission to the park, and a racing program.
Admission And Parking Admission to Monmouth Park varies from $3 for age 55+ to $5 for grandstand admission and $7 for clubhouse admission. Children age 12 and younger are admitted free of charge. Racing programs may be purchased at the park entrance, in the clubhouse, and at other locations throughout the track.
Haskell Race Day Advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended for the Haskell Invitational, as this is a very popular horseracing event at Monmouth Park. Call 732-571-5580 to reserve your seat for Haskell day.
Picnic Area And Dining Options General admission to the grandstand includes access to the open-air picnic area, which has 100 umbrella tables available on a first-come, first-served basis. The picnic grove has a large play area for the kids, making it a popular spot for family groups. Small charcoal grills and coolers are permitted in the picnic area.
For more dining options, Monmouth Park has casual food stands selling fare that offers a "touch of the Jersey Shore," such as New Jersey Craft Brew and 'Cue, Max's Famous Hot Dogs, and Strollo's Lighthouse Italian Ice.
For a more formal dining experience, try the air conditioned dining terrace on the third floor of the Clubhouse or the fine-dining Blu Grotto restaurant and outdoor beer garden. The dining terrace menu includes starters, soups, salads, and entrees.
The Blu Grotto serves regional Italian favorites, fresh seafood, and prime steak in a conservatory-style setting. The restaurant also has three large decks and an outdoor beer garden with live entertainment, gourmet bar pies, raw bar, and more.
Monmouth Park Family Fun Days Every Sunday through Labor Day is family fun day at Monmouth Park. Just for the kids, the park provides free face painting, a bounce house, pony rides, and clown entertainment.
Special Events In addition to family fun days, throughout the summer, Monmouth Park hosts special events and festivals offering fun for all ages. Some of the upcoming events for 2018 include:
Classic Car Show & Oldies Day, Sunday, July 8, 2018 Surf & Turf Seafood Festival, Saturday, July 14, and Sunday, July 15, 2018
Monmouth Park Kids' Club, Sunday, July 22, 2018 Ladies' Day at Monmouth Park Racetrack, Saturday, July 28, 2018
Haskell Invitational, Sunday, July 29
Italian Festival and Wine Tasting, Saturday, August 4, 2018
Monmouth Park Kids' Club, Sunday, August 12, 2018
NJ Thoroughbred Festival, Sunday, August 26, 2018 BBQ & Craft Beer Festival, Labor Day weekend 2018 (Saturday, September 1; Sunday, September 2; and Sunday, September 3)
Food Trucktoberfest, Saturday, September 8, 2018
Monmouth Park Claim To Fame
After beating all the odds and winning the Triple Crown in 2015, American Pharoah proudly prevailed at that year's Haskell Invitational before a cheering crowd of 60,000 fans and spectators. He won the race by 2-1/4 lengths with a time of 1:47.95 for a distance of nine furlongs.
You don't have to wager any bets to enjoy a summer afternoon at the track. I'm not really a gambler myself, but I have loved horses since I was a little girl. One of my favorite parts of visiting Monmouth Park is seeing the horses up close when they leave the paddock and promenade around the English walking ring before each race. For more information, visit www.monmouthpark.com.
All copy and photos © copyright by Christine Cardellino, creator and author of the award-winning Belmar Beachcomber Blog, a travel and tourism guide to the Belmar region of the Jersey Shore. Do not copy any content (including images) without our permission. All rights reserved. www.vacationinbelmar.com