OCEANPORT — It's going to be dangerously hot this weekend but Monmouth Park will not cancel the Haskell Invitational despite pleas by animal advocates to postpone the horse race.

On Friday, Kathy Guillermo, the senior vice president of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, called it "extremely foolish and reckless" for the park to stay open.

"This is the only way to protect thoroughbreds from heat-related injuries, as New York, Maryland, and Pennsylvania tracks have already recognized. If even one horse collapses, Monmouth officials should be held criminally liable for cruelty," Guillermo said.

Monmouth Park plans a full day of racing with 14 races, including the $1 million TVG.com Haskell Invitational at 5:47 p.m.

Spokesman Tom Luicci said the park will have its weather protocols in place, which includes delaying post times if necessary.

"We will also be in constant consultation with state veterenarians," Luicci said.

An Excessive Heat Warning is in effect for the entire state on Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures in the upper 90s and high humidity will make it feel like as hot as 105 and 115 degrees, according to New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow.

"The combination of near-record heat and very high humidity will make for dangerous conditions," Zarrow said in urging people to limit their time outdoors during the hottest part of the day, which is in the afternoon and early evening.

The racetrack's plan also includes:

  • Extra medical personnel on site for people.
  • Ice containers stationed throughout the track and where horses walk in from the track.
  • Extra hoses for horses to cool down before and after races.
  • A misting system in the paddock.
  • Shortened post parades.

Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development, operators of Monmouth Park, said, "Our priority will be the safety of the horses, jockeys and our fans. We will be in contact with the state veterinarians, and if we feel it’s unsafe for horses there are things we can do."

Oceanport Councilman Joseph Irace is confident that Monmouth Park will make the right choice about the race.

"I saw the protocols they are putting in place and I trust the management to do what's right and that goes for the horses and the jockeys and the spectators. I don't think they'd do anything to put horses or people in danger," Irace said.

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

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