THE FUTURE of horse racing at Monmouth Park is in jeopardy as negotiations to transfer ownership of the Jersey Shore track to private management have broken down.

The dispute threatens to derail Gov. Chris Christie's plan to privatize both Monmouth and the Meadowlands Racetrack.

The sticking point is a permit to run thoroughbred dates at the Meadowlands, even though all thoroughbred racing in New Jersey has been consolidated at Monmouth. The permit was given to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association in June as part of a deal in which the horsemen agreed to cut the racing schedule in half to 71 days for a 5-year period.

The final contracts were slated for signature on Dec. 5, at which time control of Monmouth would transfer to Morris Bailey and operation of the Meadowlands to Jeff Gural.

According to John Forbes, president of the NJTHA, the governor's administration said that it was not comfortable having the horsemen's group hold that permit.

"We were all set to wrap everything up," Forbes said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. "They waited until the 11th hour to tell us."

Negotiations over the weekend failed to produce a new agreement as the horsemen refused to yield the permit, which allows them to seek additional racing dates and could potentially be a bargaining chip if the Meadowlands eventually gets slot machines or other alternative gaming.

The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that Bailey is no longer interested in leasing Monmouth now that the deal has fallen apart.

According to Forbes, the state is now preparing to close Monmouth.

The governor's office did not immediately respond to a request by the Associated Press for comment.

Sport Stops * 

U.S. Open champion

Rory McIlroy

shot a 30 on the back nine at the Dubai World Championship to gain the early advantage over top-ranked

Luke Donald

in the duel for the European money title. The 22-year-old McIlroy had six birdies on the back nine for a 6-under 66 and finished third behind leader

Peter Hanson

(64) and 1999 British Open champion

Paul Lawrie

(65). Donald, who played alongside McIlroy, shot an even-par 72.

* The IndyCar Series will not return to Las Vegas Motor Speedway next season, and its future at the track depends in part on what it learns from the investigation into Dan Wheldon's fatal accident. Wheldon, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, was killed in the opening laps of the Oct. 16 season finale at Las Vegas. The investigation into the 15-car fatal accident is ongoing, and IndyCar has postponed releasing its 2012 schedule until it determines if the series can continue racing on high-banked ovals such as Las Vegas.