Finally, the NJ Classic and the Miss New Jersey Stakes are dead, at least for the foreseeable future as a New Jersey Superior Court judge has refused to force the Meadowlands to host these stakes races this year, despite the plea of Attorney Howard Taylor. Quite honestly, this is case which should never had been filed in the first place.
Stakes races get cancelled in the industry with some regularity; at most distributing payments to all horses which remain eligible is the sole recourse to owners. Is this good business, especially for those who buy those yearlings? Perhaps not, but the reality is it is part of the risks an owner takes on when they become race horse owners. There are no guarantees in life and racing certainly falls into this category.
While the Northeast is getting hit with a snow/sleet storm which the media has over-hyped, winter is in its last legs and one of the most obvious signs of this transition to spring is the kicking off of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy Memorial Series this weekend at Yonkers Raceway. Friday night, March 17, bring us three divisions of the Matchmaker as twenty-four aged pacing mares have dropped into the box, featuring local favorite Krispy Apple and others. In Saturday's Levy, thirty-one pacers comprise the four divisions of the first leg being raced. Caviart Luca, All Bets Off, McWicked, Wakizashi Hanover will be the ones being watched in week one.
The Matchmaker and Levy Series kicks off this year's 2017 Hambletonian Society Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge. With additional sponsorship, the prize fund for standardbred rescue will cross over the $8,000 line this week. The handicappers have selected their rescues which may be found here. Thanks to the sponsors and HANA Harness for supporting the efforts of Standardbred Rescue. You may follow the contest at the contest website the entire year.
Another sign of spring is the opening of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs as Saturday night is the first card of the 2017. With higher purses than the Meadowlands, trying to fill races at the Meadowlands will be a bigger challenge than ever. Until something changes, either the Meadowlands finding a way to subsidize its purses or Pennsylvania taking a big shave, this is the way it is going to be; the Meadowlands being the child always being picked last.