Should the thoroughbreds depart the Meadowlands, it would provide a unique opportunity to alter the landscape at the Meadowlands for the standardbreds. One thing which should not be an option is adding days to the standardbred meet (nor do I think anyone would seriously suggest it). There needs to be a contraction of race dates at the Meadowlands, especially when you consider the likely loss of supplements and the lack of VLTs.
So how could the Meadowlands racing calendar look like? I have come up with an idea for a schedule which is predicated on certain assumptions (and hope that horsemen in different states can work together). These assumptions are:
- Meadowlands and Yonkers work together to come up with a schedule that gives each of them a period of 'prime' time; allowing for increased wagering on their races.
- Allows Chester and Pocono Downs to have most of the overnight action during their race meets.
- Provides the Meadowlands with a true championship meet, similar to the two week Grand Circuit meet at Lexington.
- Yonkers has the ability to scheduling racing during the Meadowlands' down time.
Winter Meet (40 days)
January - Thursdays thru Saturday nights
February and March - Thursday thru Saturday nights; twilights on Sundays
Under the winter meet proposal the Meadowlands would race three nights a week in January and expand to a fourth night after football season by adding a twilight Sunday program. The Meadowlands will offer a higher daily purse distribution during this meet than they will in the fall.
Yonkers Raceway would race during these three months on Mondays thru Wednesdays. During this winter meet, the Meadowlands would race the Open and FFA classes.
Summer "Championship" Meet (40 days)
Third week of May thru first week of August - Thursday thru Saturday
During the championship meet, the Meadowlands would race only Thursdays thru Saturdays, running their Grand Circuit, early/late closing, and NJSS races. Basically, for two and a half months, the Meadowlands will become The Red Mile with the best horses racing. The stakes would be coordinated with other tracks that run during this time with the meet ending so the top horses can go on swing thru the Mid-West and Delaware, Ohio and Lexington. The daily purse distribution will be similar to the winter meet with additional money for the stakes and early/late closing series.
Yonkers would race Sunday thru Tuesday and Saturday. Both tracks can run the caliber of horse they want (the stakes each track run would determine who gets what horses).
Fall Meet (30 days)
Third week of October thru third week of December - Monday thru Wednesday
This would be the Meadowlands B meet. During this time, the Meadowlands would race Monday thru Wednesday evenings and race a primarily overnight meet. The daily purse distribution would not be as great as during the winter meet. The only exception would be if the Breeders Crown came to East Rutherford. In that case, the first two weeks of the meet would have the eliminations and finals of the Crown.
Yonkers would get the prime nights of Thursday thru Saturday with the Open and FFA classes racing there.
Could a schedule like this work? A lot of it depends on the willingness of horsemen in New Jersey and New York working together as well as giving up the concept of more racing is good. All I know is something has to give.