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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Meadowlands Unveils 2016 Plans

Update:  The SBOANJ is not happy with the proposed Meadowlands schedule.  They will be meeting with track officials shortly.

The Meadowlands has announced plans for the majority of the 2016 harness racing season.  As previously announced, there will be no Thursday night racing this year; each week racing will be limited to Friday and Saturday nights, the exception being Hambletonian Day which will have its typical daytime card.

Racing begins January 6 and concludes August 6 which is the day of the Hambletonian.  Unlike previous years, there will be no late closing series during January and February; dedicating the first two months to overnight racing.  This lack of late closing series is a welcome relief as they have become unplayable events.  The Meadowlands will card additional races on a nightly basis provided there is a demand at the entry box from trainers looking to get their horses raced in the winter.

There will be a short three week meet in September geared towards baby racing, two year olds who may not have been ready early enough to compete in the major stakes races but ready to begin strutting their stuff.  A unique feature will be Friday night mixed meet racing with standardbreds on the main track and the runners on the turf course.  Of course, the question is what will happen if it rains as this fall's thoroughbred turf meet has been subject to cancellations due to rain as in previous years.  Unless the runners will run on the turf course when the turf is soft, Friday nights may result in brief racing cards.

Since the September meet is a mixed meet, it would be a good time to have a RUS series, assuming the hurdles presented by some who seek to block parimutuel racing under saddle under a standardbred permit.  Hopefully hurdles may be overcome to allow such a series to take place.

As for the 2016 fall meet, a starting date has not yet been decided upon but it may start as early as October 21 to allow for warmer weather during the early part of the meet; in particular for the Breeders Crown.

Of course, the 2015 fall meet is just around the corner with an opening night of November 13 and a closing night of December 26 with the highlight of the fall meet falling on the weekend of November 20-21 as the TVG series finals and early closers such as the Valley Victory, Governors Cup, Goldsmith Maid, Three Diamonds, Tarport Hap and Continental Victory are set to be raced.


Anonymous said...

Jeff Gural is losing money, but still not afraid to try new things. I expect people running other harness tracks, at least privately, will predict failure for a combined thoroughbred harness event. Will it work? I don't know. At least Mr. Gural isn't doing the same old same old we've seen from some other track operators. You know, the ones who think high take out, poor betting menus. low payoffs and boring races will somehow renew interest in harness.

JLB said...

You make a good point about the possibility of cancelled turf races. This would have a special impact on exotic bets such as a pick 3 or pick 4. Management may have to avoid including such races in those sequences.

Marv said...

As I recall, the Meadowlands had plenty of horses before PcD, TgDn, VD, Phl and some of the other tracks open in spring. Thereafter, they had short fields. I get that if you don't have full fields you don't have a great handle. I also get that winter racing is not as profitable as warmer weather racing. There must be a better way to control this than to go to 2 days of racing per week. The points system and classified racing was criticized and eliminated, but how about a cash incentive system to encourage full fields? A 5-10% bonus paid for 9 or 10+ fields? A year-end bonus paid to the top 10 owners/trainers who enter the most starters at M1 in a year? Perhaps it is time to have more of the purse pool go towards overnights, which benefit more NJ horsemen?

Pacingguy said...

Personally, being how the horsemen desert the Meadowlands comes spring, I would stick with two days of racing with no extra races. Why give horsemen who won't support you when you need them with extra dates to get their horses in? In addition, I would card most of the races restricted to NJ sired and bred.

If anything, come spring time I would offer incentives for full-fields.

Count said...

Mr. Gural has built a nightclub ill-equiped to cater to racing fans that he passes off as a racetrack just so he could possibly get a racino license in the future. He has reduced the racing to TWO nights a week and passes himself off as the savior of harness racing. I agree with you, what a Godsend!

Count said...

And by the way, Mr. Gural is not losing one thin dime because if his aspirations to place a casino on the site do not come into fruition, he gets ALL of his money back!!! Where can I make a deal like this?

Pacingguy said...

I agree it would be better if the Meadowlands would race more than two days a week; that is if you don't mind racing for $2,500 purses.