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Meadowlands Experiencing Racing Renaissance

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The spring of 2019 has been a good one at The Meadowlands. Handle is up as a result of greater field size and the gradual return to better quality horses, the logical explanation being increased purses made possible by the supplemental funding from the state. The horseplayers are voting with their wagering dollars and handle begets handle, that is fact.

The entry box has been solid. There have been enough horses entered to card 13 races for each live racing night, most of them with full fields, which is exactly what The Meadowlands' customers desire. 

"We have momentum that we haven't had in a while and I want it to continue. We appreciate the support at the entry box by those trainers racing with us this spring, that's a big part of it," stated Meadowlands GM Jason Settlemoir. "I was excited watching the races this weekend. There is no question that horses closing in on the leader as they approach the wire with five or six across the track in deep stretch creates excitement. We have to demonstrate to the legislators that our product is enhanced and improved to continue the purse allocation, we're going in the right direction and it must continue."

Saturday's card resulted in another night of over $3 million in all sources handle on The Meadowlands races, which were interesting and entertaining. The track is playing fair, a bit less speed favoring, with horses able to win from virtually anywhere. In every one of the races this past Saturday, the fifth place finisher was no more than 6 lengths from the winner, most were far closer, and in the 11th race the first five finishers were separated by just a head.

The competitiveness of the races, leading to fewer short priced favorites, is an important component of what drives handle. The average win payoff on Saturday was slightly over $10 and as pointed out in Dave Little's release the percentage of winning favorites over the past two weekends (9 from 52 races) is around 17 percent.

With several of the top Meadowlands/Grand Circuit drivers absent for most of the winter/spring meet it has provided an opportunity for the next generation of talent to ply their trade on the big stage. Their desire to succeed when the chance presents itself, along with less familiarity within the driver colony, has made for some exciting racing.

"I thought the racing Saturday night was fun to watch. The drivers closed the holes which makes it much more competitive and the handle reflects that. Hopefully with the championship season on the horizon and many of our regular drivers returning from Yonkers after the Levy I hope we will continue to see the same level of competitive driving with the elimination of the courtesy holes that we have seen for the last several years. There is no question that the racing on Saturday was the best I have seen in many years and reminded me of the good old days of the Meadowlands when horses either got to the top or were parked when they left from the outside. It obviously makes for a much better product," said Meadowlands CEO Jeff Gural.


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