Cotolo’s Harness-Weekend Review, 8-8-11We hope those of you who took part in the Hambletonian-day Players’ Pool had fun while following the stream of action we developed from the bankroll. It was not an easy day for players, even creative players like us, and, having been on site and in the thick of the horsemen involved we can tell you it was not an easy day for them, either.
Jeff Gural, the man who led the team that would keep the Meadowlands open as it went from a state to private facility, spoke to harness racing industry people representing 17 countries at the World Trotting Conference. He outlined the huge changes that the one-time flagship track will undergo in coming years.
He called the Meadowlands “obsolete,” a facility “built for a different era” that is “too big now for the crowds it draws.” Gural talked about the plans that include dismantling the entire structure and replacing it with a modern building to be constructed on the other side of the old one. He offered a graphic depiction of what will be a plant more like the two he runs now, Tioga and Vernon in New York.
Many of Gural’s ideas about making the sport more attractive to bettors and fans, ideas he has championed to the industry for two decades, will come to play with the new Meadowlands. He is going to make horses sired by four-year-olds ineligible to major stakes, for one. “We need to keep horses from retiring at the end of their three-year-old season,” he said. Gural is finally getting this concept to become a buzz, asking other tracks and the Hambletonian Society (which handles many big stakes) to seriously consider the policy.
Before the Meadowlands closes this season, frosh-colt pacers will battle for the prime prize of summer in the Woodrow Wilson stake. Elims should be necessary and will be held on the penultimate weekend of the meet. It will be the closing feature in two weeks.
Glamour-boy pacers’ next contest is the Confederation Cup at Flamboro Downs. This is one of the rare races where elimination heats take place on the same day as the final. We will cover that in our Thursday blog so you can be ready for it on Aug. 14.
Plenty of stakes are coming as the second half of the season rolls toward the Breeders Crown events, this year at Woodbine in Canada. Our “Crown” Countdown will begin soon.