Oceanport, N.J. * Heavy rains were no deterrent for the return of Thoroughbreds to Monmouth Park as the Shore racetrack opened its stable area on Monday in preparation for the 2009 season, set to get underway on May 9.

Among the first to arrive were horses for trainers Russell Cash, Frank Costa and Pat Marrotta.

“As always the stable area will meet its maximum capacity of 1,600 horses,” said Bob Kulina, vice president of racing and general manager of Monmouth Park. “We’ll have a great mix of familiar faces and newcomers in the trainer ranks, which should ensure great competitive racing, at all levels, throughout the meet.”

Some new faces set to join the Monmouth stalwarts are trainers Kiaran McLaughlin, David Fawkes, Tom Albertrani, John Terranova, Ralph Nicks and Wesley Ward.

Monmouth Park is set to offer average overnight purses of $315,000 for the 2009 season, an increase of 3% over last year. Additionally, stakes purses will see an increase of just over 10% to nearly $5 million. Once again, the season will be highlighted by the $1 million Haskell Invitational, to be run on Sunday, Aug. 2.

The racing surface is scheduled to open for training later this week.

A total of 94 live racing programs will be offered at Monmouth this year with the meet running through Sunday, Sept. 27. Post time for the 2009 season will be 12:50 p.m.