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2020 Update

Pari-Mutual wagering began in New Jersey in 1941, but it's roots go farther back then that. Racing in New Jersey goes back to 1853, when the first races were held in Freehold, ten years before racing begin in Saratoga. In fact New Jersey had two established tracks before the twentieth century began, when Monmouth Park was established in 1870. Surprisingly these two facilities are still in existence today. Since then the state has had it's share of ups and downs, tragedies and successes, it has also had it's share of controversy, trying to undermine the triple crown, and distract from the sports premier meet at Saratoga. It is also responsible for introducing casino wagering on the East Coast, one of the first damaging blows to the racing world.

Over the years additional tracks were opened. In 1942, Garden State Park held it's inaugural meet in Cherry Hill, across the river from Philadelphia. Shortly after in 1946, Atlantic City Race Course opened in Mckee City, a suburb of Atlantic City. For years the three thoroughbred tracks Monmouth, Garden State and Atlantic City shared racing dates from mid April, to mid October. Garden State would kick off the season, till Memorial Day when racing would shift to Monmouth in the resort town of Oceanport, Atlantic City would close out the year with racing from August to October. Freehold would remain the only harness track running from August to November. Over the years Freehold has only had day racing, a rarity for harness racing which was mostly a nighttime event. Racing in New Jersey stayed pretty consistent until 1976 when a new kid made a big splash.

In 1976 the New Jersey Sports Authority unveiled it's new complex which consisted of Giants Stadium and The Meadowlands Race Track, or the "Big-M" as it became known. Although the fact that it included a turf course and conducted a thoroughbred meet, the "Big-M" was harness heaven. Harness racing had never seen the kind of money being thrown around for it's sport, in fact racing there was said to be playing Monopoly with real money. The Meadowlands soon took over as the Mecca for harness racing, pushing the established tracks in New York to the back of the bus. The Garden State was on a roll, but time would it last.

Fast forward to today, Garden State has burned down been rebuilt as a castle, then razed for condo's. Atlantic City is reduced to a token week of turf racing to keep it's simulcasting license, and the crown jewel, The Meadowlands was cast off by the State of New Jersey barely avoiding the wrecking ball for now. Oh Ya! New Jersey, legalized casino wagering in 1978, wonder if that had anything to do with how things worked out!

2020 Update

I don't really know how to classify New Jersey, It's tracks don't have casinos but they do have sports betting. The Garden State hasn't faired as poorly as other non racino states, two of the four tracks in existence in 1966, are still running and The Meadowlands, which came later is still active. Granted, none of them are nowhere near there former glory, but their doing better than Garden State Park and Atlantic City Race, both which have passed into history. Just like simulcasting, sports betting may keep them going a little longer.