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.