OCEANPORT — Monmouth Park has acknowledged that the Haskell Invitational was not a good experience for fans and will try to make it up with a day in their honor in August.

The days leading to the race track's biggest event of the year were steeped in controversy when the park stood firm in its decision to run the race in heat and humidity that made it feel like 110 degrees.

The first two races of the day were run shortly after noon on race day, before the decision was made to suspend racing until late afternoon — leaving those who braved the heat to attend with several hours to kill. Ultimately, the track took serious losses on the events, with poor attendance for the races.

"Haskell Day was obviously not what we wanted it to be or expected it to be this year, and we want our fans to know that we truly appreciate their patience during a difficult day as well as their continued support of Monmouth Park,” Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, operators of Monmouth Park, said in a statement. “This is our small way of expressing our appreciation and saying thank you once again to all of our customers.”

The day will feature free admission, free parking and food specials, according to a statement about the event. The day will feature the $150,000 Monmouth Oaks race, headlined by a horse named Jaywalk.

The whole day of the Haskell was off for Monmouth Park, with a 32.3% reduction in attendance from 2018 with 25,173 in the stands, according to NJ.com. The on-track handle of $610,813 was down nearly 70% from 2018.

The total handle, including off-track betting figures, was $8,556,664, according to the report — down from $13.39 million in 2018.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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