Yesterday, the Meadowlands released the list of trainers who are eligible for the rewards program where the reward is having preference to race in the B-2 or lower classes as well as the non-winners of 1, 2, 3, and 4 pari-mutuel races lifetime classes. All other classes remain open equally for all trainers. The trainers who qualified for the reward were:
Eric Abbatiello Tony Alagna Ronald Burke Mark Capone
Ron Coyne Jr Jonas Czernyson Nikolas Drennan Steve Elliott
Mark Ford Mark Harder Joseph Holloway Richard Johnson
Douglas Lewis Joseph Martin Julie Miller Larry Remmen
Christopher Ryder Mark Silva Jeffrey Smith Ake Svanstedt
Jimmy Takter Linda Toscano
These were twp ways to qualify for the preference reward. If you had more than 60 starts at the Meadowlands from March 28, 2014 thru the end of the meet or if you had at least 20 starts at the Meadowlands during the same period and you made more starts at the Meadowlands than all other tracks combined during the same timeframe, you qualified for the award.
If you are a trainer on the list, you are pleased. If you are not on the list, you are probably kicking and screaming over being excluded from the rewards list, especially if you missed by a couple starts or are a small stable or a trainer who tried to serve two masters, Peter Koch at the Meadowlands and Karen Fagliarone at Freehold for both NJ racing secretaries often were asking trainers to enter horses, making trainers chose one track over the other and possibly costing themselves preference at the Meadowlands entry box this winter.
While no preference system based on the number of starts is completely fair as someone is always going to end up on the short end of the stick by a start or two, or some owners will change trainers to one who qualifies to play the system, this system is better than none. After all, if you are a trainer who supported the Meadowlands during the period the Pennsylvania tracks were open, how would you feel being jammed at the entry box by the carpetbagger who raced in Pennsylvania all season long and decides to race in the winter at the Meadowlands when there are no other racing opportunities available, knowing they will abandon the Meadowlands once Pocono Downs and/or Harrah's reopens? Something needed to be done to reward and protect the loyalists and this was seen to be the fairest way to go.
Before anyone criticizes management at the Meadowlands, this system was designed with input from the horsemen via the SBOANJ. If people have complaints about this system, make sure they get their share of grief.
As I mentioned, there is no perfect system. If I developed this preference system, being the small trainers support both Freehold and the Meadowlands; New Jersey tracks, I would have had the second condition exclude the starts made at Freehold from the "than all other tracks combined during the same timeframe" condition.
For those trainers afraid of being blocked from the entry box, it should be noted trainers like Jimmy Takter are not racing horses at the lower levels so some of these trainers may as well not be on the list. Also, for those small trainers with green horses, the conditioned classes still have the added condition of New Jersey-sired affixed to them so that will reduce the influence of the trainer's preference (NJ sired horses will earn a 60% bonus in NJ sired preferred events).
The bottom line is those who supported the Meadowlands deserve to race this winter while those trainers who spent their season in Pennsylvania deserve to have little opportunity there. You need to show love to get love back. Now is the time to pay the bill.
Update: Here is the Meadowlands press release regarding the NJ-sired bonus program.
The Breeders Crown has announced the tracks holding the Breeders Crown events through 2017. While the Meadowlands will host the events in 2016, WEG returns to the circuit in 2015, after bypassing the Crown due to the uncertainty of the Ontario racing environment. Perhaps more important than the return to WEG and the Meadowlands, is the addition of Hoosier Park to the rotation in 2017. With the addition of Hoosier Park, the Crown will make its first visit to the mid-West in a long time. Their addition to the rotation is welcome.