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Meadowlands Racetrack

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Race type  Harness Thoroughbred
Course type  Flat racing
Opened  1 September 1976
Meadowlands Racetrack Meadowlands Racetrack Secaucus NJ Petillo Incorporated
Location  East Rutherford, New Jersey United States
Owned by  State of New Jersey & Operated by New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority
Date opened  September 1, 1976 (40 years ago) (1976-09-01)
Notable races  Hambletonian Stakes, The Meadowlands Pace, The Cane Pace.
Owner  New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority
Similar  Yonkers Raceway, Monmouth Park Racetrack, Freehold Raceway, MetLife Stadium, Izod Center

The Meadowlands Racetrack is a horse racing track at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States. The track hosts both thoroughbred racing and harness racing. It is known popularly in the region as "The Big M".

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History

Meadowlands Racetrack Meadowlands Racetrack Wikipedia

Opened in the mid 1970s, Meadowlands Racetrack held its first-ever harness race on September 1, 1976, while thoroughbred racing commenced on September 6, 1977. With the exception of the opening season of 1976, autumn has been dedicated to the thoroughbreds, while the rest of the year features standardbreds, or harness horses.

Meadowlands Racetrack Meadowlands Racetrack Harness Racing

The advertising campaign that accompanied the start of thoroughbred racing at the Meadowlands in 1977 was noted for its use of the slogan "Racing with the Moon", originally popularized in 1941 by bandleader Vaughn Monroe (alluding to the fact that post-time is in the evening – a circumstance that still pertains, although afternoon programs during long holiday weekends are occasionally put on). More recent advertising campaigns have included a direct and catchy approach to attending live racing: "It's All About Being Here – The Meadowlands!"

Meadowlands Racetrack The Meadowlands racetrack in East Rutherford New Jersey first

With its sweeping curves and wide stretches, the "Big M" has been known for exceptional times for harness racing. Opening night at the track featured the fastest harness mile run in New Jersey to that time, 1:5535 by Rambling Willie. The world record for a mile by a standardbred, 1:4645 by Holborn Hanover, in rein to George Brennan, was established at the track on August 5, 2006 in a division of the U.S. Pacing Championship.

Meadowlands Racetrack Harness drivers injured in spill at Meadowlands Racetrack NJcom

The Meadowlands Racetrack has been the site of the Hambletonian, the first leg of the Trotting Triple Crown, since 1981.

Leading drivers in recent seasons have included Ron Pierce, Brian Sears, George Brennan, and Tim Tetrick.

The track is operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, also the operator of Monmouth Park.

Sam McKee and Ken Warkentin are the current race callers and announcers for the Meadowlands. McKee is the announcer on Fridays and Warkentin is the announcer on Saturdays. Veteran sportscaster Dave Johnson, the track's lead public-address announcer from its opening until the early 2000s, still does promotional events for the track as its "senior track announcer."

In July 2009, the Meadowlands Rail Line opened for event service, but is expected to run daily upon completion of the nearby American Dream Meadowlands.

Bruton Smith, owner of Lowe's Motor Speedway and other motorsports racetracks, has long had his sights on Meadowlands Racetrack for possible conversion into a short track venue for NASCAR events in the New York City area. His most recent of several attempts to purchase the track failed in the late 1990s. A report issued in January 2010 by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie discussed the idea of closing the Meadowlands Racetrack and selling it for commercial development or converting it into a NASCAR facility. Governor Christie has considered selling or leasing the racetrack to a private operator or closing it altogether.

The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority currently intends to privatize the racetrack, however a leasing arrangement to Jeffrey Gural of Newmark Knight Frank has been held up in court. The privatization would include $100 million of improvements consisting of a new 2,250-seat grandstand built on the site of the current backstretch. The existing grandstand would then be kept until at least 2014 so it could be used as an event space for Super Bowl XLVIII.

The old Meadowlands grandstand closed for racing on November 2, 2013. The new grandstand, which cost $88 million to build and can seat 2,200, opened for racing on November 23, 2013 with an estimated crowd of 15,000 in attendance.

Physical attributes

Like many racecourses in the United States, the main (dirt) track at the Meadowlands has a 1-mile (1,609 m) circumference; inside of this is a turf course (used by the thoroughbreds only) which is 7 furlongs (1,408 m). With a span of exactly 316 mile (302 m) from the top of the stretch to the finish line and a distance of exactly 116 mile (101 m) from the finish line to the beginning of the first (clubhouse) turn, the dimensions of the track are considered "typical" or "standard" for an American racetrack. The main track is 90 feet (27 m) wide, while the width of the turf course is 80 feet (24 m). The track is equipped to race at night and most of its races are at night.

The old grandstand, horse barns and site, was designed by the Philadelphia architectural firm of EwingCole (now known as Ewing Cole Cherry Brott), who also designed a number of other track facilities around the world as well as Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia (with Populous).

In the middle of the track is a lake, intentioned to resemble the state of New Jersey.

Racing

Up until the 1990s, The Meadowlands held these thoroughbred stakes races, now moved to Monmouth Park:

  • Grade II – Meadowlands Cup
  • Grade III – Cliff Hanger Stakes
  • Grade III – Pegasus Stakes
  • Grade III – Violet Handicap
  • Currently, The Meadowlands only hosts a turf thoroughbred meet after the Monmouth Park meet ends called "Monmouth at the Meadowlands."

    From November until the Hambletonian in August, The Meadowlands hosts a variety of stakes races for harness runners:

    References

    Meadowlands Racetrack Wikipedia


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