Cotolo’s Harness-Weekend Review, 8-22-11Chester this past weekend and beat him soundly. Can you consider it a rivalry? We have to wait for the Breeders Crown to fully appreciate the joust.
Brian Sears won his sixth of seven driving championships when the Meadowlands closed its 2011 season. Following him, in order, were Tim Tetrick, David Miller, Andy Miller, Yannick Gingras, Ron Pierce, Simon Allard, Mike Lachance, John Campbell and Brandon Simpson.
The Meadowlands closed on Aug. 20 with some tears and memories hovering over the facility. What happens now to the flagship harness raceway?
Jeff Gural, the head of the new, private group that took the track from the uncaring hands of the state’s governor, is looking ahead to 2012 as things change rapidly with the swampland’s plant. Coming to the Meadowlands are a new head of operations, a new racing schedule and a strong get-tough policy on trainers and/or drivers who do not play by the rules.
Mr. Gural is interviewing for the person who will run the racing operations. As well, he said he hopes to have a new management team in place shortly.
When the track re-opens, there’s a chance some familiar horsemen will be asked to race elsewhere. Gural believes integrity is a serious issue for the industry and may chose to keep some people out.
A new racing program is in the works. Mr. Gural said the track could open the Friday before New Year’s Eve, Dec. 30, or the first week in January. “We’ll still race around 81 days,” he said.
Construction on the new grandstand will begin around the first of the year, hoping to be completed by May, 2013. The paddock will be redesigned so that horses can ship directly into it instead of a receiving barn.