Racing will have a new look at The Meadowlands in May. For openers, the Graduate, which has been a fixture at the track since 1978, and has been won by the likes of Direct Scooter, Cam Fella, Call For Rain, Gallo Blue Chip and Shark Gesture, will be no more. Not long ago Mark Harder was lamenting the fact that with the dissolution of the Spring Pacing Championship at Woodbine, he has nowhere to race Golden Receiver until the Graduate. Sorry, Mark. It looks like the Graduate is gone, too.
New on the calendar will be the 100K Meadowlands Maturity races for four-year-old trotters and pacers. The field will max out at ten and eligibility will be based on lifetime earnings at the time of entry. It’s great to see this concept revived. Back in the day the Realization was a big deal. The purse was close to 100K and the race generally took place in April or May. The distance, for both gaits, was a mile and a sixteenth. Henry T, Bret, Romeo and Albatross all won the Realization. And Speedy Scot, Nevele Pride and Speedy Crown were winners of the trotting division. Two mares, Sprite Rodney, the dam of Spartan Hanover, and Flamboyant, also won. In 1968 Lloyd Lloyds supplemented the latter to the race for 10K and Bill Haughton brought her home a winner at 1/5. So CMO and Maven have precedent on their side.
What newly minted four-year-olds will be entered in the Maturity? Will returning front benchers like Market Share, Intimidate and Googoo Gaagaa fill the trot spots? Will Michael’s Power, Sweet Lou, Heston Blue Chip, ARNRD and the like fill the pacing Maturity? Or will there be openings for hoses like Holdingallthecards, who are short on lifetime earnings but are racing well in the here and now? The track would be very disappointed to see the 16W, Super Bowl and Singer crowd populating those races.Last year four-year-old Mister Herbie had his coming out party in the Glory’s Comet in March and April at Woodbine. There were 50 and 60K preliminary legs and a 125K final. And pacers new to the open ranks could do the same in the companion Spring Pacing Championship. But those series have both been eliminated, so a trotter like Intimidate, who has never ventured south of Niagara Falls, may be forced to make that trip for the Maturity.
In order to qualify for the 500K finals of the new Meadowlands FFA series a horse must compete in no less than half of the preliminary races; seeing as there are nine for each gait, that would be five races. The Allerage and BC are the two for each gait not held at the Meadowlands. The point allocation system [see below] is set up in such a way that it discourages winners from skipping legs. For example, in the case of the Exit 16W and Singer, both of which are being contested right now, a winner receives 100% more points than a second place finisher and 76% more than a third place finisher. The first five places get points. They don’t want a dominant winner knocked out due to a break or a star-crossed performance. In the new FFA series all participants get points and the winner gets less than 30% more points than the second place horse and 57% more points than the third place finisher. So, between the base requirement to start in five preliminary legs and the stingy allocation of points to the top finishers, most of the better FFA horses should be on a short leash, which is where Mr. Gural wants them.
Meadowlands FFA Series
|FINALS & OPEN RACES||ELIMINATION RACES|
|1st Place = 35 Points||1st Place = 18 Points|
|2nd Place = 25 Points||2ndPlace = 13 Points|
|3rd Place = 15 Points||3rd Place = 8 Points|
|4th Place = 10 Points||4th Place = 5 Points|
|5th Place = 8 Points||5th Place = 4 Points|
|6th Place = 5 Points||6th Place = 3 Points|
|7th Place = 4 Points||7th Place = 2 Points|
|8th Place = 2 Points||8th Place and all other starters = 1 Point|
|9th Place and all other starters = 1 Point|