Now that I have handicapped the first card of the "New Meadowlands Era", what other tidbits can be gleaned regarding racing at the Big M now that it has entered the stable of Gural tracks?
The mandatory driver's meeting occuring prior to the first race on Friday should be interesting. Expect the drivers to be told that courtesy tucks and the half-in, half-out driving is going to come to an end. As Jeff Gural mentioned in an interview:
“We are meeting with the drivers and judges in hopes of going back in time to the driving style that used to exist here,” said Gural of his current agenda. “I heard many complaints from customers about the courtesy tucks” – drivers allowing other horses to settle in along the pylons rather than race on the outside – “and half-in, half-out tactics” – drivers who race just off the pylons to prevent other horses from making forward progress on the outside. I banked the turns because some of the drivers told me it would help make the races more competitive. Now I would like their help in the form of more aggressive driving.”
Wouldn't it be nice if they actually were racing as aggressive as they used to? Of course, without the judges being willing to hand down some suspensions, especially on those drivers who continue to drive as if it was still the 'old' Meadowlands, nothing will change. While Gural can't make the judges hand out suspensions, hopefully the NJRC Director has made it clear to his judges to enforce the rulebook.
There has been talk since Freehold Raceway doesn't open until March, that the Meadowlands and the SBOANJ has agreed to write some races for the top class Freehold horses, meaning the $7,500 and $10,000 claimers get some racing opportunities. One of the options being considered is a series for $7,500 claimers where fourteen horses would meet the starting gate in contests at 1 1/2 mile with a lucrative final. To get horsemen to enter their horses in this series, Gural is considering paying out to the first ten places.
You have my selections, but you can get Derick Giwner's selections and free program pages here.
Who Said This? “They get the tourism, the revenue and the good jobs that belong here. It’s estimated that over $1 billion of economic activity from gaming can be generated in our state. Therefore, let’s amend the Constitution so that we can do gaming right.”
The answer is Governor Cuomo of New York. Meanwhile, New Jersey Governor Christie continues to hide his head in the sand of Atlantic City or on the campaign with Mitt Romney, playing his fiddle. The question is why can Governor Cuomo see this but not Governor Christie? Atlantic City is being swamped by gambling to the North, West, and South. If not for the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic City would be swamped by the East. As well intentioned as the Governor may be, he is costing New Jersey millions, if not billions of dollars by refusing to expand gaming in the state. Maybe then, the state could start meeting its pension obligation and bringing revenue to New Jersey businesses. This has nothing to do with racing, this is the New Jersey economy. What is going on in New Jersey is negligence.
Standardbred Canada not to award Cam Fella Award. Hats off to Standardbred Canada for not awarding the Cam Fella Award this year. I understand some awards need to be awarded every year such as the 2yo filly trotter or horse of the year as you are comparing the year's crop with itself, but certain awards should not be given willy nilly as a matter of course. Certain awards should not be given out each year just as a matter of routine. For example, if there is a particularly mediocre crop, I would suggest not awarding the Horse of the Year award. Yes, I know breeders want that label for purposes of promoting a stallion (assusming a stallion was selected), but if the crop is that week, why should it be awarded? If a horse can't get a certain percentage of the votes, it should not be awarded.