It was announced today that classified racing (A-B-C) racing will be debuting at the Meadowlands starting opening night, December 28. In addition to classified racing, races for non-winners of 2 and 3 races lifetime will be programmed for younger horses. No changes will occur to claiming races. The SBOANJ has agreed to this proposal on an experimental basis.
For those unfamiliar with classified racing, basically what happens is the racing secretary looks at the horses which drop into the entry box and then classifies them according to ability. Then depending on the caliber of horses available which drop in, the best horses will be placed in class A while the weaker horses get placed in Class C. Depending on the number of horses entered, a class may be further defined (such as Class B being further sectioned into B1, B2, B3 with B1 being better than B2, which is better than B3). If not enough horses are classified as B3, but too many are classified as C1, two classes such as B3 and C1 may be combined as a handicap race with the higher classified horses drawing on the outside.
No doubt some horsemen will be complaining about classified racing coming to the Meadowlands but if there is any track where classified racing is called for, it is at the Meadowlands. While during the winter months when many tracks in the Northeast are closed there is an abundance of horses available, come spring time the Meadowlands has a hard time getting enough horses to fill a racing program, often creating mis-matched, non-competitive races. What inadvertently happens is when criticism is directed to horsemen for not entering horses, the typical excuse is there was no race written where their horse(s) fit so they couldn't enter them. With classified racing, this excuse is eliminated.
No race for you at one of the other area tracks? No problem, drop your horse in at the Meadowlands, and your horse will be placed in a race where the racing secretary feels your horse belongs, with the best horses competing in the top classes and the weakest horses competing in the lower classes. The race secretary has indicated he will classify horses on ability, not based on purses earned so if done right, you won't be seeing a winner of $100,000 the previous year being able to drop into a low level class.
Why introduce this during the winter season when an abundance of horses is available? Two reasons. First of all, being horsemen have nowhere else to go if they can't race at Yonkers Raceway, they have no choice but to give the classified system a chance if they want to race their horses. In addition, by having a captive horse population, hopefully horsemen will see the system is working the way it was intended to so they continue to support the Meadowlands' racing program.
If done right, not only will horse players have full fields to wager on, they will have competitive fields which will provide for better payoffs. Competitive races with better payoffs results in improved handle.