Things are moving forward at the Meadowlands with the re-grading of the track currently underway to return the original banking back to the famed oval. Actually, it won't be the final changes since the backstretch and the front stretch will be changing when the new grandstand is operational. Changes will be made at that time to bank the new backstretch then. There is a video about this available and is posted here for your convenience.
While it is good to see things are moving forward with the Meadowlands, there still has to be some uncertainty with things in flux with Monmouth Park. The Record's, John Brennan has blogged about it on his own blog. Brennan thinks the deal with Bailey still has a chance of being completed, based on the thermometer known as Governor Christie. If Christie truly thought Bailey was going to bolt, his sarcastic remarks would have been replaced with "...smoke is going to come out of Christie’s ears". Well, we have not gotten there yet, although Brennan does indicate if Bailey does walk, the NJTHA and Hialeah Park owner, John Brunetti, have previously put down refundable deposits to make a bid for the track and others expressed interest as well. Of course, my concern is if there is any delay in closing the Monmouth deal, does it put the Meadowland's deal on hold? If that is the case, things like banking the track may continue, but it may cause a delay or a halt to the process of buildimg the new grandstand until things are resolved.
Great news has come out regarding the Breeders Crown Open Trot this year at Woodbine as two European horses will be coming to North America to compete as Rapide Lebel and the well-known Commander Crowe are to make an appearance in the Crown. While Rapide Lebel may be the lesser known of the two horses, Rapide Lebel is a champion horse as if he wins today in Sweden, he becomes the overall European Grand Circuit champion for this year. (Update: Rapide Lebel won a two heat race today in Sweden, clinching the title.) Here is video of the two European horses winning races.
Here is Rapide Lebel winning in Finland on July 17 in 1:51.4 (tenths) over 1609m (1 mile).
If you think that was impressive, take a look at Rapide Lebel on August 14 in the Grand Prix de Wallonie at 2,300 meters. I must confess I don't know the level of competition he competed against but for 180,000 euros ($248,000+), he must not be racing against chopped liver.
Here is Commander Crowe's victory in the Prix du Conseil General des Alpes Maritimes at Cagnes Sur Mer in France back in August, winning in 1:50.4 over the 1,609 distance.
It's really great we are getting European horses to compete in the aged events. It would be really good if we can get more foreign horses racing in our Breeders Crown events including 2yo and 3yos. The Breeders Crown should be like the Breeders Cup in it becoming a more international event.
Storm Clouds in the Distance? We now hear that trainer Nat Varty is beginning to dabble in thoroughbreds with his wife as she starts training the runners and he may join her. This is not the first trainer to dabble with or switch over to the runners. Is it they find the grass is greener on the other side or are they seeing storm clouds in the standardbred industry that they are covering their bases in the event things go south? Time will tell. Hopefully, they are betting the wrong way.