OCEANPORT, N.J. – With the $1 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 2, leading the way, Monmouth Park will offer $4.7 million in stakes purses this year. Bolstered by an agreement signed with horsemen in 2008, Monmouth Park will see a $500,000 increase in stakes purses, or roughly 12%.

“This year’s stakes schedule should once again ensure that Monmouth Park continues to bring the best horses from across the country to the Jersey Shore,” said Bob Kulina, vice president and general manager of Monmouth Park. “We bucked the national trend in seeing an increase in overall handle last year at Monmouth and the stakes schedule we’re putting forth this year will hopefully allow us to continue that momentum.”

Returning for a second season is the $200,000 Monmouth Stakes, which will be run on June 13, and serve as a prep for the Grade 1 $750,000 United Nations on July 4. Champion 3-year-old Big Brown captured the inaugural running of the Monmouth Stakes last year, just six weeks after capturing the Shore’s signature event, the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational.

Other notable changes to the stakes calendar include purse increases of $50,000 for the Oceanport (G3) and Taylor Made Matchmaker (G3), both to be run on Aug. 2 – Haskell Day, as well as the Jersey Shore Stakes (G3) on July 5 and the Monmouth Oaks (G3) on Aug. 15.

The Long Branch Stakes on July 11, and the Red Bank Stakes (G3) on Sept. 6, will have their purses bumped up by $25,000. Additionally, Monmouth will make up the $50,000 decrease from the Breeders’ Cup national stakes program.

Monmouth Park’s 2009 racing season will run from Saturday, May 9 through Sunday, Sept. 27.