Wilson, Sweetheart Finished; Aged Stakes Announced

Published: December 6, 2012 12:37 pm EST

The stakes calendar at the Meadowlands Racetrack will have a distinctly different look for 2013 with the focus shifting from two-year-olds stakes to events geared for the older horse set.

Gone are the Woodrow Wilson and Sweetheart. The Reynolds and Simpson freshman stakes have been relocated to sister tracks Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs and scheduled later in the season. The Final Four (Governor's Cup, Three Diamonds, Valley Victory and Goldsmith Maid) will be resurrected and added to the Meadowlands Racetrack's 2013 Fall meet around Thanksgiving, placing the emphasis on high-dollar races for two-year-olds being offered from late August through November.

The really big news is a brand new Free For All series, conceived by Jeff Gural. The series will include the top older events at the Meadowlands, Breeders Crown finals and Allerage Farm finals along with several $50,000 Opens at the Meadowlands as legs from which points will be accumulated leading into the $500,000 guaranteed final for both trotters and pacers on November 30.

A provision in the conditions to invite the winner of the three-year-old Breeders Crown or Hambletonian/Meadowlands Pace offers the hope that this year-end event may pit the top three-year-old against the best older horses as the Breeders Cup Classic does for the thoroughbreds, giving this new race serious Horse of the Year implications.

The Meadowlands Maturity for four-year-old pacers and trotters will debut in May with an estimated $100,000 purse ($75,000, added) offered just for the cost of the declaration fee.

Another new series for 2013 is the Hudson River for four and five-year-old New Jersey, New York or Pennsylvania sires stakes participants that have not won four pari-mutuel races or $150,000 outside of the state-bred events. This one will travel, with $18,000 legs planned for PA and NY as well as the Meadowlands before the $75,000 (est.) final at the Meadowlands.

New Meadowlands President, Jeff Gural offered his observations on the revamped stakes program, stating, "I believe that unlike in the past, our best three-year-olds are likely to race at four, and as a result I believe the races for older horses will once again have the kind of excitement that I grew up with when I started going to Yonkers and Roosevelt over 50 years ago.

"I am looking forward to the upcoming season, and hopefully we can give our customers a chance to see the best older horses at the Meadowlands more than once or twice as they try to accumulate points in order to race in these year-end races. Hopefully we can have a top three-year-old enter to add to the mix."

Also returning to the 'Big M' in 2013 are the Moni Maker and Nadia Lobell, which are scheduled for the fall meet in late November.

Live racing returns to the Meadowlands on December 28 with a new first-race post time of 7:15 p.m. The schedule calls for racing Thursday, Friday and Saturday through March 16, then Friday and Saturday for the balance of the year. The 2013 Championship Meet begins on Friday, May 3 and will end with the Hambletonian Day card.




sad to see a historic race like the woodrow wilson leave, but it looks as though it is for the best. The revival of the final four was needed, and the additions for older horses is great... hopefully a step in the right direction, with more focus on the best coming back for their 4 and possibly 5 yr old campaigns.

the potential for a champion 3yr old racing the best in the open ranks is hopeful at best, but it is another addition that can bring a lot of hype and interest to racing in future years.

overall it looks like gural is putting in a top effort to improve racing and the experience with harness racing as a whole, more than can be said for many tracks in the industry.

Doesn't this all make sense....2yo races in the fall and support for older horses.Thanks again, Jeff.