With the final count now in from the February 15 payments, nominations to the brand new $1million Free For All races scheduled for the Meadowlands Fall Meet have exceeded expectations.
Both the pacing and trotting races attracted 36 nominees with most of the stars of the division listed among them. Payments continue through May 15 for those races.
A pleasant side-effect to the new races was a considerable bump in nominations to the existing stakes for older horses at the Meadowlands that will support the new FFA events as point bearing legs.
The paces are way up; the WRHaughton Memorial rose from 28 to 42 nominees and the US Pacing Championship from 32 to 45.
The trotters saw less of a spike. With the Nat Ray being considered a paid in race for the first time this year, it netted seven more nominees that the stake it is replacing, the now defunct Titan Cup. The Arthur Cutler Memorial increased by three from 32 to 35.
Older pacing mare stakes dipped with the Lady Liberty off five and the Golden Girls down ten from the 2012 numbers.
On the sophomore front, the Mistletoe Shalee also saw a positive gain of five nominees while the Meadowlands Pace took a disturbing 29 percent dip from 42 to just 30 this year.
The three year old trots experienced an uptick with the Stanley Dancer gaining seven and the Del Miller for fillies up by nine.
The Fall Final Four races opened on par with the 2011 figures for February. Those two year old events will be raced at the start of the 2013 Fall Meet with the eliminations on Saturday, November 23 and the rich finals one week later.
Nominees for all Meadowlands stakes are listed on the track's website.
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