New Jersey has earned a fair reputation as being one of the East Coast’s biggest betting hubs and this extends to off-track betting. Since being legalized at the start of the millennium, off-track betting has exploded in the state. OTB New Jersey features three racetracks and five off-track betting parlors. Though appearing modest in number, there is some heavy action going on here.
We will go over the most important off-track betting topics like:
The Garden State has one of the richest sports betting histories and yes, of course, off-track betting is legal. Although despite being known for its Boardwalk in Atlantic City and all the casinos that have made the city a “gambling hotbed”, off-track betting did not become officially legal until 2001.
Governor Donald T. DiFrancesco signed the Off-track and Account Wagering Act, which was an historic signing at that time. This act allows licensing of the Sports and Exposition Authority to create off-track wagering sites. It also grants the New Jersey Racing Commission regulatory authority over off-track betting.
Presently, New Jersey has three racetracks and five off-track betting (OTB) halls. Additionally, the state made it possible for New Jersey beach and Monmouth Park to conduct one horse race per year. These races, beach races, are based on the Palio di Siena in Atlantic City.
Outside of the off-track betting halls, horse racing diehards can head to online sportsbooks to bet on the ponies. These books will feature horse races from anywhere on the globe but most notably, from the local scenes in the Meadowlands Racetrack, Monmouth Park, and Freehold Raceway.
Off-track betting has been open for business in New Jersey, and it’ll keep running along.
Horse racing happens all year round in the Garden State. The Freehold Raceway has live harness racing for every month except for July and August. But the timing here couldn’t be more impeccable as August is when the Hambletonian Stakes happen.
Taking place at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the Hambletonian is the state’s most prestigious race and is the first race of the Triple Crown of Harness Racing for Trotters. On the same day, the Cane pace takes place as part of the undercard.
Before the Hambletonian is the Meadowlands Pace, which occurs around mid-July. This is the Meadowlands’ signature pacing event and comes equipped with betting promotions such as a $500 prize giveaway for simply registering.
Also in July is the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park. One of the state’s most esteemed thoroughbred races, the Haskell has a prize of over $1 million and is one of the major races for three-year-olds that happen between the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup.
Indeed, a lot of the top horse races in the state happen during the summer making it a prime destination for both horse racing fanatics and racebook bettors while waiting for the bigger competitions.
Off-track betting in New Jersey is not always your best option. Sometimes you ant to head to the track. New Jersey features three racetracks all with their own identities. The Meadowlands Racetrack and Freehold Raceway are both known for their harness races while Monmouth Park has featured mostly thoroughbred races. These racetracks are backed up by five off-track betting halls in the state.
Freehold Raceway, the oldest racetrack in the country, has been hosting races since 1830. It holds two racing meets and has horse races every time of the month except for the summer in July and August. It features mostly harness racing although it has hosted thoroughbred races.
The Meadowlands Racetrack known to locals as “The Big M” is more than just a racing venue but also a tourist destination. It holds a number of bars and restaurants. Like Freehold, Meadowlands is known for its harness racing and features the Hambletonian Stakes, perhaps the biggest race in the state.
The Hambletonian Stakes is part of the Triple Crown of Harness Racing for Trotters and takes place every first Saturday in August. This day is the biggest racing day in New Jersey and most of the action happens in the Meadowlands. This includes the Cane Pace, an undercard race for the Hambletonian Stakes.
If it’s thoroughbred action, the Monmouth Park Racetrack is where it happens. A park filled with events and history, Monmouth Park hosts a few top-tier thoroughbred races including the Haskell Invitational Stakes and the United Nations stakes,
The Meadowlands Racetrack is one of the East Coast’s premier destinations for harness racing. Although it holds both thoroughbred and harness racing, it is most known for hosting the Hambletonian Stakes and the Cane Pace. The Hambletonian is the first leg of the Triple of Crown of Harness Racing for Pacers.
Known colloquially as “The Big M”, it first opened in the mid-1970s and has been the most prominent racetrack in New Jersey. The track in the Meadowlands is a dirt track that is 1-mile in curcmference while the inside turf course (used mainly by thoroughbreds) is 7 furlongs.
The racetrack was privatized in late 2011 and included $110 million in improvements. The Big M has since partnered with several entities such as Paddy Power Betfair to open its own local sportsbook, giving off-track betting New Jersey even more options
As for its races, the Hambletonian and Cane Pace both occur on the same day with the Cane being run as part of the undercard of the Hambletonian. Known as the “Father of the American Trotter”, the Hambeltonian is a staple in harness racing. It has a prize money of $1 million since 2015 and is raced between three-year-old trotting Standardbreds.
Canadian harness racing legend John Campbell holds the record at the Hambletonian with six victories spanning over three decades.
The Freehold Raceway is the oldest racetrack in the United States being opened around the 1830s (1854 officially). The racetrack features Standardbred harness racing for trotters and pacers and hosts or has hosted several high-profile races such as the Cane Pace and the Yonkers Trot.
The raceway holds two meets per year: from New Years Day until the end of May then from September until the middle of December. Races at the Freehold usually take place twice a week on Fridays and Saturdays. In January, they race up to three times a week although they usually are off during the summer months of June and July.
Several farms and training centers are located near the raceway, which stable hundreds of Standardbred racehorses. Across the raceway is also the Freehold Raceway Mall, which opened in 1990 and was once decorated with harness racing motif.
During a harness race in 1953, the ultra-rare triple dead heat was first captured in Freehold. The noses of horses Patchover, Payne Hall, and Penny Maid all passed the finish line at exactly the same time. Although double, triple, and even quadruple dead heats were commonly awarded, this was an iconic photo and is one of Freehold’s monumental moments.
Arguably the most prominent racetrack in New Jersey, Monmouth Park Racetrack is the top thoroughbred horse racing track. It’s based in Oceanport, New Jersey. Historically, three different buildings have borne the name Monmouth Park.
This included the Long Branch Racetrack as early as 1870 in Eatontown, New Jersey. The park held major races such as the Champion Stakes, Freehold Stakes, and the Monmouth Cup. In 1946, a new bill passed by the state legislature had another park called Monmouth Park. It is now the Monmouth Park Jockey Club. And finally, the current Monmouth Park came to be.
Monmouth Park hosts several grade-I thoroughbred races including the Haskell Invitational Stakes, and the United Nations Stakes. It also holds prominent grade-II races like the Molly Pitcher Stakes and the Monmouth Cup. There are great tracks, but OTB New Jersey is always an option at any of the betting sites we recommend on this page.
The main track in Monmouth is a one-mile dirt oval and includes chutes for 1 ¼ mile (6 furlong) races. The turf track is seven furlongs (about 0.87 miles) and with a diagonal chute for 1-mile and 1 1/3 mile races.
The Haskell Invitational has seen its fair share of legends. From Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who trained eight champions, to four Horses of the Year: Holy Bull, Point Given, Rachel Alexandra, and American Pharaoh.