State and Local officials are hopeful a deal to lease the Monmouth Park Racetrack will be finalized soon.

The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority is hammering out terms that would allow the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association to lease the Oceanport facility after New York Developer Morris Bailey pulled out of consideration to run the venue in December.

Borough Councilman Joseph Irace says they're happy about the pending deal with the Horsemen's Association. "The Horsemen are the people who are there running the races; the people that are on the grounds all the time and they know what needs to be done, what kind of up keep, what kind of maintenance and what can be done to turn out a perfect product."

However, rushing the agreement to save the 2012 racing season is not the highest priority of Oceanport officials. Irace says "we want to have something done where you have not just racing but high quality racing. You know, you want to make sure that you get in the top quality horses. You want to make sure your purses are as competitive as they can possibly be."

Following the disappointing results of negotiations with Morris Bailey, officials didn't come out of the experience empty. They actually like some of the ideas pitched by the New York Developer for the land surrounding the racing venue. Irace says "hopefully the Horsemen follow suit with some of those similar kind of plans, whether it's an upscale restaurant or a hotel or some kind of maybe ah upscale mall or a little bit of boutique stores where you can bring people to the venue year-round instead of just two or three months out of the year."

However, while town officials remain optimistic, they aren't holding their breath on a deal either. Irace says "they've learned in the past that nothing's done in horse racing until it's done." He says they're hoping it moves quickly but if it doesn't work out, they're willing to help anyone who expresses an interest in operating the facility.

In the Atlanticville Newspaper,  State Senator Jennifer Beck said a deal with the Horsemen's Association is dependent on the attorney's reviewing the deal. She said she believes it could happen fairly soon.