A new era of racing at the Meadowlands began Thursday morning as horses took to the track for the first time since new lessee Jeff Gural took over operations of the facility.
The track moved from public to private ownership last week as Gural inked a 31-year lease with the State of New Jersey to operate the Meadowlands.
Twenty qualifiers were held Thursday morning in preparation for the start of the 2012 harness meet on Friday, January 6. The non-wagering events marked the first trip over the newly banked track surface for many of the Meadowlands’ leading horsemen. Grading was restored to the track this fall in order to spur more competitive racing.
“The track was lightning fast,” noted driver Andy Miller, who steered Cruzin Angel to victory in the morning’s first qualifier. “[The banking] should enable the outside horses to be much more competitive.”
The back paddock also underwent a transformation this fall as gates were added and walls were raised in each race stall to eliminate the need for a receiving barn.
Video clips will be available on MeadowlandsRacetrack.com and the track’s YouTube Channel (youtube.com/meadowlandsracetrack) later today.
1) The banking of the track is highlighted as Western Shore and driver John Campbell round the far turn in the nineteenth qualifier on Thursday morning, December 29, at the Meadowlands.
2) Cruzin Angel, steered by Andy Miller, wins the first morning qualifier on Thursday, December 29 at the Meadowlands.
3) Meadowlands lessee Jeff Gural (center) and General Manager Mike Newlin (second from left) discuss the recent renovations with trainer Pat Lachance (left) and driver Andy Miller (right).
4) The Meadowlands paddock is now a ship-in paddock, eliminating the need for a receiving barn.
5) The Meadowlands track was re-banked this fall in an effort to make the racing product more competitive.
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