Tuesday, September 02, 2014
New Meadowlands First Season A Success
By Darin Zoccali
East Rutherford - Despite a relentless winter that seemed to never want to end and an interruption in racing due to the Super Bowl being held at MetLife Stadium, the early returns on the 2014 Meadowlands season, the first in the new state of the art facility are promising.
Through 67 live racing dates, the on-track handle stands at $19,231,729, an average of $287,040 per card. That figure will increase through the final 14 dates of the season which include The Breeders Crown and TVG Free For All Championships.
All-sources export handle through the same 67 live racing dates is $168,020,021, an average of $2,507,761 per-card. With 14 racing dates remaining, export is trending toward surpassing $200 Million for the entire season.
Hambletonian Day was a tremendous success. While some international figures continue to trickle in, the current handle of $8,693,869 is an increase of over $1 Million from 2013 and is the third highest handle in Hambletonian history, behind only 2002 ($8.8 Million) and 2005 ($9 Million).
“I am very pleased with the first year in our new facility,” said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. “First and foremost, the new racetrack is absolutely stunning and I don’t believe there is a racetrack like it in the country. The most common comments I hear from our guests speak to how beautiful the racetrack is. I think the summertime and better weather allowed people to spread out more, enjoying all the outside amenities and as Hambletonian Day proved, any concerns that the new racetrack would not be able to handle the crowds on our biggest days were put to rest. The outside decks and the rooftop terrace offer some of the best views in racing and those locations are in very high demand in the warmer months. They seem to be attracting new and younger people to our facility which is critical to not only our future, but the future of this industry.”
Meadowlands General Manger and C.E.O. Jason Settlemoir looks back at the 2014 season with a great deal of pride and optimism. “I want to thank our horsemen for supporting us in this pivotal year at The Meadowlands and we look forward to continuing our excellent relationship with the SBOANJ going forward,” said Settlemoir. I also want to thank The Meadowlands employees. It took a herculean effort by each of them to put together the season we had and I couldn’t be prouder of the team at The Meadowlands. Last but certainly not least, a great many thanks to our customers who have embraced the changes at The Meadowlands. Without them, none of this would have been possible.”
Looking forward to the Fall and 2015, The Meadowlands will continue its event-marketing strategy and providing its customers with events like Jerseyfest and Roosevelt Raceway Legacy Night that proved to be a huge success.
On the wagering front, beginning in the fall, there will be an exciting new low-takeout wager that The Meadowlands is confident when at its zenith will provide the largest pool in harness racing history. More details on the wager will come shortly.
Harness racing returns to The Meadowlands on Friday November 14th. That first weekend features the eliminations for The Breeders Crown, with the 12 Championship Finals to be contested on Friday, November 21st and Saturday, November 22nd.
Prior to the return of harness racing, thoroughbred racing will return to The Meadowlands on Thursday September 18th and will run through Saturday, November 1st. For the first time in several years, thoroughbred racing will be conducted at night, with a post time of 7:00 P.M. “I hope people come out to see the thoroughbreds,” Gural added. “This is a great facility for a night-time thoroughbred event and I look forward to seeing how it is received. I think it will expose the facility to an entirely new group of people and hopefully they will come back for the harness racing as well.” There will be six races each night during the thoroughbred meet, with all races conducted on the turf course. The racing dates for the thoroughbred meet can be found at http://meadowlandsracetrack.com/calendardates.aspx
The 2015 standardbred dates will be announced in the coming weeks.
Written by John Pricci
of Harness Racing Update
Thursday, August 28, 2014
The Speedy Sweet Lou
Ben Ken Weingartner
Only once during his current 10-race win streak has Sweet Lou trailed other horses at the halfway point, but trainer Ron Burke wouldn’t mind seeing it happen again in Saturday’s C$634,000 Canadian Pacing Derby (CPD) at Mohawk Racetrack.
Sweet Lou won his CPD elimination last week by a length over stablemate Foiled Again in 1:48.1, ending a record streak of six consecutive victories in less than 1:48, but still good enough to give his connections the opportunity to pick his starting spot for the final. Sweet Lou, with regular driver Ron Pierce, will leave from post three and is the 4-5 morning line favorite.
In his last six races, Sweet Lou has reached the half-mile point no slower than :53.3. The only time he trailed during that span came in the William R. Haughton Memorial final, when he followed Thinking Out Loud in the outer flow and got by earlier leaders Bettor’s Edge and Captaintreacherous in the stretch to win by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:47.1.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing that trip in the Canadian Pacing Derby,” Burke said. “I’ve got a feeling you’re getting to the point now where people are trying to leave real hard with the intention that if they make the front they know they’re not going to have to cut it because (Sweet Lou) is coming.
“In a way, I’d like to see him race off the back a couple more times because he seems to race that way just as well. It’s tough going these halves in 53 (seconds) every week.
“This race really concerns me in that everybody now is trying to race the same way and all of these horses, one of these days, will end up stringing a half in 51-and-a-piece. I have all the faith in the world in Ronnie that he’ll get us in the right spot, but the right spot, I’ve got a feeling, might not be on the front this week.”
Sweet Lou has won 10 of 13 races and $934,700 this year for owners Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, and Phil Collura. For his career, the 5-year-old son of Yankee Cruiser-Sweet Future has won 32 of 68 races and $3.05 million.
“I was a little bit worried last week because he was bearing out a little bit late in the mile, but Pierce didn’t seem to be too concerned,” Burke said. “He said he kind of let him drift and he was fine, so we’ll see.”
Foiled Again, who won the Canadian Pacing Derby in 2012 to become the richest pacer in harness racing history, is the 6-1 second choice in this year’s final and will start from post seven with driver Yannick Gingras. Foiled Again, a 10-year-old gelding who now is the richest harness racing horse in North American history, with $6.37 million, has won 80 times in his career.
“He was vicious in his elimination, 25-(seconds)-and-a-piece out and 25-and-a-piece home,” Burke said. “He couldn’t have been any better. I think he’s as sharp as he’s ever been. He keeps drawing bad in the (finals) because he can’t beat Lou in the eliminations. That really hurt him a lot.
“Now from the seven hole he’s got to go out and earn it. But Yannick always seems to get you in the right position, no matter what.”
Burke also sends out elimination winner Clear Vision and Bettor’s Edge in the CPD. Clear Vision and driver Brett Miller will start from post two and are 8-1 on the morning line while Bettor’s Edge and driver Matt Kakaley will leave from post eight and are 7-1.
Following is the field in post order with drivers, trainers, and morning line: 1. Modern Legend, David Miller, David Drew, 20-1; 2. Clear Vision, Brett Miller, Ron Burke, 8-1; 3. Sweet Lou, Ron Pierce, Ron Burke, 4-5; 4. Domethatagain, Tim Tetrick, Rene Allard, 10-1; 5. Captive Audience, James MacDonald, Corey Johnson; 6. State Treasurer, Chris Christoforou, Ian Moore, 9-1; 7. Foiled Again, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 6-1; 8. Bettor’s Edge, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 7-1; 9. Thinking Out Loud, John Campbell, Bob McIntosh, 20-1; 10. Ellis Park, Steve Condren, Brad Maxwell, 20-1.
Written by John Pricci
of Harness Racing Update
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
E.L. Titan Hopes to Loom Large
By Ken Weingartner
Stakes-winner E L Titan has been absent from the Grand Circuit this season, but that is soon to change.
The 3-year-old male trotter, who won three of five starts last season, including divisions of the International Stallion Stakes and Madison County, made his 2014 debut earlier this month and is getting ready for the Simcoe Stakes and Canadian Trotting Classic, both at Mohawk Racetrack.
Riina Rekila, who trains E L Titan for breeder/owner Erkki Laakkonen, qualified E L Titan on July 4 at Mohawk, where he won in 1:57.4, but didn’t see the colt make his first start until Aug. 9, when he was victorious by 4-1/2 lengths in 1:54.2 in a conditioned race at Mohawk.
“He had little issues, but we decided to start a little bit later with him,” Rekila said. “He was staked to the Hambletonian too, but I entered him in a few overnights here and they didn’t use the class, so I just came late with him. I can’t just go and race (in the Hambletonian) without any normal races.
“We hope he’s good now until the end of the year.”
E L Titan is by stallion Muscle Hill out of the mare Courtney Hall, a stakes-winning full sister to millionaire Cameron Hall. E L Titan is Courtney Hall’s fourth foal and the previous three -- E L Rock, Appomattox and E L Rocket -- each earned at least $233,000. Appomattox, who finished second in the 2012 Kentucky Futurity, leads the group with $414,548.
Last year, E L Titan won his division of the International Stallion Stakes by a neck over Trixton in 1:53.4. The time was fifth fastest among all 2-year-old male trotters last season. He also finished second to Father Patrick in a division of the Champlain Stakes.
“I really liked him,” Rekila said. “He’s lazy training, so you can’t tell too much. We were very surprised he raced that well (on Aug. 9) because he had only one qualifier. At home, I just train him under saddle or on my sand track. I don’t train him too fast, so I was happy he went (1):54 pretty easy at Mohawk.”
Rekila drove E L Titan as a 2-year-old, but Chris Christoforou was in the sulky for the colt’s first start this season. Rekila hopes Christoforou will drive E L Titan again in the Simcoe, which is Aug. 30.
“If he doesn’t take him, I’ll take him,” Rekila said with a laugh. “I like Chris. He’s nice with the horse and he’s one of the best drivers up here.
“I like to drive 2-year-olds because maybe they are not so handy to drive,” she added in explaining why she gave up her seat behind E L Titan this year. “I know them, so it is easier.”
Following the Simcoe and Canadian Trotting Classic, E L Titan’s stakes schedule includes the American-National, Galt, Yonkers Trot, and Breeders Crown.
“I’m racing him lightly because we would like him to race as a 4-year-old as well, maybe when he’s a little older,” Rekila said. “The owner is the nicest person ever, so we can do whatever we want. He doesn’t want me to push the horse. If there are issues we can wait and race the horse whenever he’s ready. We just want to have a nice horse.
“I like him,” she added about E L Titan. “They’re all horses, so you never know, but I think he’s a very nice horse.”
Harness Racing Communications
U.S. Trotting Association
Written by Publisher
of Harness Racing Update