With Jeff Gural already committing to keep on racing, albeit with a cut stakes calendar, it is too early to write the epitaph for the Meadowlands. Make no mistake, the quality of racing is likely to decrease further but talk of its death is too soon. If referring to the end of racing as we knew it there; a different story no doubt.
So let's play a parlor game of Speculation, where we come up with what we think racing will look like next year in East Rutherford. This is particularly risky because lets face it, I don't have the financials nor do I know what Mr. Gural has planned. Furthermore, we likely won't hear anything until after election day because lets face it, while highly unlikely, the referendum could pass.
While I am focusing on the Meadowlands, there is Freehold Raceway to consider. I suspect things will continue on pretty much the same. This means in 2017, roughly 110 days of racing will take place.
As for the Meadowlands, I suspect they will try to cut back on their 90 days of racing; probably more like 80 days. Of course, under NJ law, the horsemen have to agree to the cut in racing dates
Were I to apply for racing dates, the Meadowlands would go back to its meat and potato days, racing the majority of dates in the winter, possibly on a three or four day schedule. Then I would schedule a summer meet around the Hambletonian, with possibly ten weeks of racing twice a week.
Other than the Hambletonian, I would probably end the majority of stakes races; perhaps keeping the TVG Series races for older horse around as TVG sponsors the races. Overnight purses would be cut a bit to allow for repayment of the purse account deficit so the bottom level would remain at the $7,500 claiming tag as was the case this year. only theses races would be contested more often.
Of course, what happens once the Meadowlands closes the first weekend in August? This year there has been more harness racing taking place, I would imagine that would be out. I wouldn't be surprised if the Meadowlands seeks a thoroughbred meet of their own, not just Monmouth Park at Meadowlands, in an effort to see if the return of the runners for a longer stanza would result in more income opportunities to cut the losses.
So those are my thoughts. Putting all this out here now is risky because while some of these ideas may actually come to fruition, there is a good chance of me ending up with egg in my face. Time will tell.
Do you have any predictions?