While there was nothing extraordinary about the racing program this past Saturday night at the Meadowlands, the end result provided a conclusion long thought to be true.
Despite the vast majority of the Meadowlands drivers being north of the border for The North America Cup eliminations and despite the Meadowlands program being filled with young and lower-level condition horses, the total handle for the card was $3,039,973.
When evaluating the reasons for the success of the Saturday card, all arrows point in one direction, full fields. After scratches, a total of 122 horses went to the gate for the 13-race Saturday card, for an average of 9.4 horses per race. While stakes races often provide the most exciting racing of the meet, there are times when those fields are shorter than one would hope. As an example, the first race this past Saturday was a non-winners of 1 race for three year old pacers, with 10 horses. The race handled $210,108. One week earlier, the first race was a division of The Golden Girls, featuring the best pacing mares in the country. That stakes event contained a field of six horses, with a handle $195,216.
In addition, this past Saturday the 11th Race was the opening leg of the Summer Survivor Series for three year old pacers meeting the non-winners of two condition. The race handled $239,844. The week earlier, the 11th Race was the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final for three year old filly pacers, with a field of seven. The race handled $195,236.
“Coming into this racing season, it was a goal of The Meadowlands not only to post strong numbers, but to learn and understand what it is that our customers want the most,” said Director of Racing Operations, Darin Zoccali. “In a perfect world, every race would be 10 of the best horses in racing. As an example, the Meadowlands Maturity Trot in May handled $375,000 for one race. If we could duplicate that race 13 times, we would handle nearly $5 Million per card. On days like Meadowlands Pace and Hambletonian, we will provide a full card of the very best horses with full-fields. But it is apparent that 10 horses lining up behind the gate, regardless of class, is the most important factor for our customers and we thank our horsemen for supporting us and giving us the opportunity to provide these larger fields.”
While the Meadowlands Racetrack takes great pride in providing the best stakes program in all of harness racing and recognizes the importance of putting forth such a program, these figures point out the most important factor in driving handle, full fields. Regardless of caliber of horses, or who is in the sulky, putting ten noses on the gate is clearly the most important component in driving handle. With the best part of the racing season on the horizon, the Meadowlands will be rolling out a combination of both the best horses in training with full-fields. It should make for a memorable summer at The Big.
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