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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fall Time in New Jersey

The Meadowlands, which plans to resume racing on December 28 this year has announced some changes to the racing calendar in 2013.  On the stakes front, the Woodrow Wilson and the Sweetheart Stakes are now history, being dropped from the racing calendar.  Quite honestly, it is about time these two stakes are dropped, in particular the Woodrow Wilson which has been a shell of itself when comparred to the glory days (remember when the race went for $2 million?), now lost with all the other stakes races being contested at the Meadowlands in August.

Other changes will be the Meadowlands closing on Hambletonian Day, another smart move because after the Hambletonian, interest in the meet drops off the cliff.  However, racing will return for a short fall meet starting the Friday after Thanksgiving coupled with the return of the Governor's Cup, Three Diamonds, Goldsmith Maid, and Valley Victory which were last contested in 2011 at Harrah's Philadelphia.

In a recognition of the shortage of horses the Meadowlands has to deal with, there will be no Thursday night racing when Harrah's is racing, meaning a longer period of two days a week racing.  This should help the Meadowlands by allowing Racing Secretary Peter Koch more leeway in putting together racing cards that are full instead of racing short fields consistently. 

Jeff Gural, the operator of the Meadowlands, would like to see the Breeders Crown races for older horses return to the Meadowlands in 2014.  While the temptation may be to bring the Breeders Crown back to the Meadowlands, the Hambletonian Society should resist splitting the Breeders Crown card up.  A championship day card should be just that, a card of championship races for all gaits and ages.  To return to the model where the Meadowlands and Woodbine Racetrack split the races with 2yo and 3yo events at one track and the older races at the other should be discouraged at all costs.  Of course, with the uncertainty of the situation in Ontario, this may be a moot point.

Of all the changes, I am particularly excited with the revision to the 2yo racing calendar.  By dropping the Wilson and Sweetheart and the return of the final four, the starting of 2yos before July may become a thing of the past as there will be too much money at the back end of the season when compared to the first half of  the season.  To have the babies going full steam in July will no longer make sense.


Anonymous said...

It's clear the Hambletonian Society was pointing to The Meadowlands for the 2014 Breeders Crown. There will be a new grandstand, two years from now gave time for Jeff Gural to settle in as the operator and the Breeders Crown would be his thank you for saving the track.

I understand if Mr. Gural can't afford to host all the races, but splitting them wouldn't be good for harness racing.

The Meadowlands doesn't have the money, Canada probably won't have the money. Does this make Mohegan Sun at Pocono the permanent home of the Breeders Crown starting next year or does this great event fade into history?

Pacingguy said...

I understand it can be a long day with 12 races in one day. Fine, if you want to split them, have it Fri-Sat, but at one track. Split them otherwise and all you have are stakes races, not championship races.

Anonymous said...

Still don't understand why the Big M doesn't run 3x/week from Mid-November through Mid-April, then close, and come back to run all the stakes races in July/August.