With Monmouth Park’s leading rider Paco Lopez up, Flay Mignon wins the $60,000 Jersey Juvenile at Monmouth Park on Oct. 5. Monmouth closed its 2013 meeting on Oct. 6, with attendance and handle all up over 2012’s numbers. BILL DENVER EQUI-PHOTO Monmouth Park Racetrack concluded its 61- day racing season on Oct. 6, sporting across-theboard gains in attendance — on-track and simulcast handle.Through a lease from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA) to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA) signed on May 4, 2012, Monmouth Park is marking its first full year under new leadership, with Darby Development LLC as the operating manager.“We knew last year would prove a good starting point,” said Dennis Drazin, advisor to Darby Development and the NJTHA, in a Monmouth Park press release. “The numbers posted this year prove that fans across the country have responded positively to our racing product, while those closer to home enjoyed great racing at one of the world’s most beautiful racetracks.”Average attendance came in at 8,986, besting last year’s average of 8,599 by 4.5 percent, when Monmouth ran 65 cards. Ontrack wagering averaged $510,106, an 8.3 percent increase over 2012, as total wagering averaged $4,440,595, representing a 9.8 percent boost over last season.“These numbers certainly met all expectations,” Drazin said. “We were hoping to build off last year’s start, and we have succeeded in doing so.“We’ll look to continue this upward momentum as we strive to meet the goals set forth by ourselves just over one year ago — bring expanded gaming opportunities to the racetrack, create new family entertainment and provide world-class Thoroughbred racing at the Jersey Shore.”The meet was once again highlighted by the $1 million William Hill Haskell Invitational, which saw Verrazano set a new win margin record, dominating his foes by nine and 3/4 lengths in the Shore’s signature race. Other highlights included Big Blue Kitten’s impressive performance in the United Nations Stakes, and the thrilling stretch duel between Last Gunfighter and San Pablo in the Iselin, with the former besting the latter, who was the defending champion.“As we look to the future, we are on the brink of announcing a new off-track betting facility, we continue our work to bring sports wagering to the racetrack and have plans for enhanced on-line gaming opportunities — all geared at bringing horse racing closer to the fan,” Drazin said.“On-track, we will soon open the William Hill Race and Sports Bar, a stateof the-art, Vegas-style sports book, which will offer free play on top sporting events,” he added. “In addition, the entire facility will continue its transformation into a more fan-friendly, family-oriented destination in the heart of the Jersey Shore.” Paco Lopez was a runaway winner in the race for top jockey, booting home 99 winners. It was Lopez’ second Monmouth title, having taken home top honors in 2010.One of Lopez’ finals wins was the $60,000 Jersey Juvenile Stakes on Oct. 5. He rode Flay Mignon to a five and 3/4 length lead in the race of New Jersey-breds.Charleymillionaire was place horse, and She’s Hot Wired was the show horse.A 2-year-old filly by Yesbyjimminy, Flay Mignon has won three of her four career starts, earning $112,400.Leading trainer went to Jorge Navarro, who saddled 47 winners, including a record-tying four on Sept. 22. For Navarro, a 38-year-old native of Panama, this was his first trainer’s title at any racetrack.Red Oak Stable, who has been involved in racing for decades, enjoyed their firstever Monmouth Park owner’s championship, having visited the winner’s circle 17 times, tying them with High Point Thoroughbred Partners, who also enjoyed their first owner’s title.Thoroughbred racing shifts north to the Meadowlands for 10 all-turf live cards beginning on Oct. 11. The Meadowlands will host live racing on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays through Nov. 2, with the exception of Oct. 21, which will be a dark day.