In a prior entry, I listed my suggestion for how to set up the Meadowlands meet in 2011. While to most people Freehold Raceway is an afterthought, the question needs to be asked how would a Freehold meet look like in 2011? I will attempt to offer a suggested schedule here. When constructing a calendar the following assumptions are being made: Most, but not all of the Freehold Raceway meets will be run at a different time than the Meadowlands. While a Freehold meet can race when Pocono Downs is racing, the goal should be to avoid racing head-to-head against Chester Downs where possible; not saying they can't run during the same time, but you don't want both tracks racing a Friday afternoon card against each other if it can be avoided.
So how would a schedule possibly look like?
Freehold would race an abbreviated Winter meet. In January, Freehold would race Saturday afternoons only and in February and March, Freehold would race on Saturdays and Sundays. You are probably thinking, Sundays? Didn't Freehold try Sunday racing and give it up after one or two days? It's true that Freehold tried Sundays before and it failed horribly, but that was before the advent of ADW wagering; when on-track handle had a much bigger impact on track's success. It is a much different story now as many people bet from home. With fewer thoroughbred tracks operating this time of year, there is some room on the satellites for simulcasting on Sundays. There is little competition between harness tracks racing on Sunday afternoon with Scarborough Downs and Saratoga the only tracks that race in the early afternoon. Now for Sunday racing to work there is a couple of requirements. First of all, Freehold would have to have employees working without a Sunday premium; possibly requiring renegotiation of labor contracts. Secondly, there would need to be a commitment from the Meadowlands drivers to drive at Freehold at least on Sundays during the winter meet. While the caliber of horse may not be best; the presence of Meadowlands drivers would encourage interest in wagering on the Sunday afternoon card. If after a month, Sundays were not lucrative enough, the Sunday cards could be moved to Mondays where the only competition for harness simulcasting in the afternoon would be Monticello and there are few thoroughbred tracks racing (Meadowlands drivers would be expected to race on Mondays). The winter meet would race a total of 21 days.
The spring meet would be raced March 31 thru May 30, racing Thurday thru Saturday and on Monday, May 30 for Memorial Day. NJSS races for three year olds would be raced late April through May. The spring meet will be 28 days long for a total of 49 days for the year thus far.
Freehold would conduct a three week Summer meet which is to be raced primarily between the Meadowlands Summer and Fall meets from September 9 through the 27th. This would be a somewhat elite meet as what NJ Sired stakes Freehold has would be conducted during this period along with NJSS races for two year olds. Racing will occur Fridays, Saturdays, Mondays, and Tuesdays, competing against Monticello for simulcast dollars. This mini-meet is only 12 days long for a total of 61 days for the year.
The year closes out at Freehold with a Fall meet to be contested from November 8 through December 31 with racing occurring Tuesday through Saturday with the track being closed for Christmas Eve and with an early post time on Thanksgiving. Some people would question the wisdom of racing the week before and after Christmas. While it is true some people are not interested in racing that time of year, the dearth of tracks operating during this period should allow Freehold to get a good portion of what is being wagered. This would result in a 39 day race meet for a total of 100 days for the year.
By putting the bulk of the race meet in the colder months, it would give a place for New Jersey horsemen to race when many tracks are closed; thus given them the opportunity to race elsewhere during the summer when horse shortages develop. It is not the ideal schedule but it is a plan worth considering.