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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Running Back to the Meadowlands

Harness Racing Update reports that a group affiliated with the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen Association are asking the NJRC to approve a six day mixed meet at the Meadowlands in May where the program would have four or five turf races along with the balance of the races being standardbred races.  New track operator Jeff Gural has indicated no objection provided the cost of operating a thoroughbred meet is not incurred by the Meadowlands.  A similar blessing has been given by Tom Luchento, the President of the SBOANJ provided the races were not run consecutively.

Personally, I think a mixed meet would be a welcome addition to the racing scene in New Jersey.  Perhaps on those six days there would be less racing opportunities for standardbreds, however, that may be offset with increased wagering on the standardbred races on the card.  Quite honestly, I have wondered why we have not seen mixed meets elsewhere, the most obvious location being at Woodbine Racetrack where the thoroughbred and standardbred tracks are separate.

The thoroughbred horsemen have also proposed an eleven day turf meet in November at the Meadowlands.  Frankly, I have always been dubious about the practicality of an all thoroughbred meet at the Meadowlands, being they race against NYRA tracks which tend to get the best of the horses and the meet is traditionally poorly attended.  However, an all-turf meet at the Meadowlands may be unique enough to draw its own niche. 

My problem would come if the thoroughbred horsemen wanted to race on the main track.  Harness racing at the Meadowlands had suffered over the years due to re-banking of the track to meet the complaints of the thoroughbred horsemen.  If the thoroughbred horsemen want to race over the main track down the road, they would need to maintain the banking which has been put in during this off season for the standardbreds, who are the primary reed at the Me.adowlands.

This spirit of detente is wonderful, though I suspect part of this cooperation is a result of the agreement made between Jeff Gural and the thoroughbred horsemen.  However, I would have to wonder if the standardbred horsemen proposed a mixed meet at Atlantic City Race Course, would the thoroughbred horsemen be so willing to return the favor if the ACRC meet was more than six days long?  After all, the runners don't use the main track at Atlantic City.  One would hope it would be the case but I am not convinced.

Casino Bill Approved in MA - Plainridge History?  The Massachusetts Senate approved a bill legalizing casinos in Massachusetts, while the bill needs to go through a conference committee with the state's House of Representatives, one has to wonder if this bill may result in the end of racing at Plainridge Racecourse.  The approved bill calls for three casinos to be located in different parts of the state with one of the casino licenses restricted to a Native American trbie but allows the establishment of one slot parlor anywhere in the state.  A prior version required the slot parlor to be located at a racetrack which would have had Plainridge competing against Suffolk Downs.  Now, with only one slot parlor license being potentially offered and not restricted to a racetrack, the chance Plainridge gets shut out grows.  Economic reality would suggest a slot-less Plainridge may cease operation and now with the legislastion not requiring a slot parlor to operate a race meet, even if Plainridge gets the license, the standardbreds may get shown the door just the same.


Scott Jeffreys said...

Dear Pacingguy : Let's talk about a Meadowlands thoroughbred meeting for a minute. Think boutique - think Atlantic City - think all-turf spectacular.

Having the Meadowlands go head-to-head against NYRA and all others is a mistake.

So, where would I position that meeting?

How about Friday night/Saturday night all turf racing - six races per night - 7:30pm - 10:00pm post times - for three weeks - from the first weekend of August (second weekend at Saratoga) until the third weekend of August? You are carding a 36 race meeting which will require $1,000,000 in purses at $30,000 per race.

I always wondered whether Suffolk Meadows would have survived if they could have run a thoroughbred meeting in the summer while NYRA was at Saratoga. With grass racing providing a better handle proposition than bull ring dirt racing, you have to think that this idea has legs.

Sincerely, Scott

Pacingguy said...


The first weekend of August is out of the question; it is Hambletonian Day and I don't think you would have the track cleared out in time. If you could, by all means.

The Meadowlands is scheduled to run the two weekends after the Hambo for 2012; depending on the latest developments. It might be a great time for a mixed meet.

The idea has merits. My only concern is would the thoroughbred horsemen be willing to offer a similar concession at ACRC?