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Sunday, August 28, 2016

As the Meadowlands Approaches 40 a Look Back at the First 25

by Pete Lawrence, VFTRG Contributor

Here's a promotional film about the Meadowlands ...


.. from 2001, produced to comemorate the track's 25th anniversary.

It lays out the roots of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, which originally operated the track as a daily cash source to carry the overall sports complex.

It features a little profile of David "Sonny" Werblin, the NJSEA's original chairman, along the backgrounds of and interviews with, Bob Quigley, the track's original GM and, as he puts it, "first employee," Joe DeFrank, the Meadowlands' original director of racing, and Allen Gutterman, the track's original PR man.

(I guess he'll let me know if he was the original. I don't exactly remember.)

The announcer is Dave ("... and DOWN the stretch they come ...") Johnson, who lends the proper flavor and gravitas to the film.

The thing that really hit me in watching it was - and not to take anything away from the current management team, which is pretty good and which saved the place from a one-way trip to Palookaville - but look at the crowds and the excitement, and the out and out specialness, of the Meadowlands its early days.

And the racing six days a week, 200-plus cards a year - I added that part, but it's true - and the formerly million-dollar Meadowlands Pace.

Migosh, what in the world happened to the mecca of harness racing?

Yeah, I know, things and circumstances happened, racinos in Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware happened, the Atlantic City purse subsidies stopped happening.

And Chris Christie, the present New Jersey governor who put a knife into horse racing's back, happened.

Oh, well ... enjoy the film, and enjoy the Meadowlands' glory years.

Maybe, just maybe, they can happen again.

Hey, sometimes it doesn't seem that way, but I'm an optimist.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Saying "Christie put a knife in horse racing's back" shows you are either uneducated on the subject, or simply dislike the Governor. Racing in NJ was in a tailspin WAY before he took office, and there's plenty of fault to go around for that happening. Even the horsemen share much of the blame, for accepting the "advice" of their leaders to take the Atlantic City subsidy (bribe) for a few years, rather than pursuing slots as a time when they were popping up in neighboring states. But if it you makes you happy to assign blame to the guy who showed up AFTER most of the damage was already done, then feel free to do so....but don't get upset when somebody points out the lunacy of your "argument"