Meadowlands Meet Kicks Off Friday
Published: January 3, 2012 7:46 pm ET
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Nearly 200 horses flooded the entry box for opening night of the 2012 Meadowlands harness racing meet, resulting in a solid 12-race opening card.
The season will kick off Friday, January 6 with a card that features the third annual We're Not So Young Anymore for pacers 10 years old and up. The field includes Meadowlands open regular Silent Swing, gritty veteran Image Of Dawn, who won the inaugural edition in 2010, and streaky Monticello shipper Real Mystical. A $30,000 invitational trot and $21,000 mares preferred, topped by Ginger And Fred, are also in the line-up. First race post time is 7 p.m.
In advance of the Friday opener, qualifiers were held this past Thursday and Friday. Hosts Sam McKee and Darin Zoccali gave their scouting report from the first round of qualifiers held Thursday and Friday morning at the Meadowlands.
Opening night marks the first time in its 36-year history that pari-mutuel racing will be conducted under private management at the Meadowlands. Real estate entrepreneur and longtime horse owner and breeder Jeff Gural inked a 31-year lease of the facility in December.
“We look forward to bringing our guests many improvements over the course of the 2012 season, including new food and beverage service, lower prices on services such as valet parking and an exciting line-up of promotions,” said Gural, chairman of New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC.
“We expect this year’s racing to be as competitive as ever,” he noted. “We have banked the turns on the track, creating better opportunities for the outside horses, and we have asked our judges and the drivers, who we believe are the best in the world, for their cooperation in helping us build a more exciting racing product.”
General and Clubhouse admission and the live racing program will be free on opening night and every Friday throughout the season. On Thursdays and Saturdays, the $2 admission fee will include a live racing program. The Meadowlands will follow a Thursday-Saturday live harness racing schedule through March 10, before switching to weekends only through June.
Free weekly poker tournaments will begin Friday, January 13. Players are encouraged to pre-register at WorldFreePoker.com. Weekly specials will also include Thirsty Thursdays (discount drafts and hot dogs; $1 admission with college Id) and Pegasus Saturdays (a new buffet and martini hour will be introduced later this month).
Opening weekend festivities include a color wall calendar giveaway to the first 3,000 paid admissions on Saturday, January 7, and the return of the guaranteed Pick 4. Lauded as the best bet at the track, the Pick 4 features nightly guaranteed pools ($50,000 Thursday and Friday, $75,000 on Saturday), a low 15 percent takeout and high return rate. Offered on races six through nine, the Pick Four pool averaged more than $80,000 per card with an average payoff of $2,000 for a $1 ticket in 2011.
To view entries for Friday night's card of harness racing, click the following link: Friday Entries - Meadowlands Racetrack.