East Rutherford, NJ — There will be no lack of stars on display in the harness racing galaxy that is The Meadowlands Racetrack Friday (June 5) night, as the mile oval returns from 12 weeks on the sidelines due to the coronavirus with two ferocious females featured on the card.
Right off the bat in the first of 13 races, Manchego, one of the best horses in training over the last four months of 2019, is listed at 2-1 in the Preferred for trotters. The 5-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill-Secret Magic won six straight races beginning Sept. 7 before seeing her streak end in her seasonal finale, a hard-fought three-quarter length loss at the hands of Six Pack, who was spectacular in taking the TVG Open Trot in 1:50 at The Meadowlands on Nov. 23.
Race nine features Caviart Ally (3-1) in the Preferred for pacing fillies and mares. The 6-year-old daughter of Bettor’s Delight-Allamerican Cool was exquisite at the end of 2019, defeating Shartin N — who would go on to be named Horse of the Year — three times over the four-race span that closed out both mares’ campaigns. The most memorable moment was the stretch run of the Nov. 23 TVG Open Mares Pace at The Meadowlands when Caviart Ally prevailed over Shartin N by a nose in 1:48.3.
“To come back from a difficult time — not only in harness racing history — but in the history of our country, with several of the biggest names in the game on our card is gratifying,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “I’m glad for everyone who follows our races that we have such a power-packed card for our return.”
The Meadowlands will race every Friday and Saturday evening throughout June and July with a first-race post time of 7:15 p.m.
“At this time, due to safety concerns, our fans will be unable to join us at the track,” said Settlemoir. “So, we invite them to watch the Roberts Television Network (rtn.tv) to catch the races and see our TV team of Dave Brower and Dave Little give their commentary and selections. Of course, we expect many of our fans to bet and watch the action with TVG or on their favorite ADW (advanced deposit wagering) outlet.”
The action figures to be huge throughout the weekend.
“We had 537 horses drop into the entry box for Friday and Saturday,” said Scott Warren, the Big M’s racing secretary. “I had 22 horses drop into the Preferred Pace for Saturday, so I split it into two races — a Preferred and an Open. Our entry box figures to be overflowing until some other tracks open up. For me, it’s a good problem to have.”
All 26 races offered at the Big M this weekend will have full 10-horse fields.
The betting menu is back with its “Big Four,” which is comprised of the 20-cent Pick-5 (race one), 20-cent Pick-6 (race four), 50-cent Early Pick-4 (race six) and 50-cent Late Pick-4 (race 10). There are $40,000 guaranteed pools on the Pick-5 and Late Pick-4 and a $50,000 promise on the Early Pick-4. All offer a low 15 percent takeout.
“On behalf of Jeff Gural, I would like to thank everybody in Governor Murphy’s office, as well as everybody at the New Jersey Racing Commission for helping to get racing back on track,” said Settlemoir. “Our horsemen and employees have been waiting to get back to work, and all of us at The Meadowlands are going to do just that in the safest way possible for all concerned.”
Continuing Carryovers: This Friday night, fans of the 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five will be shooting for some serious green. The fifth race carryover stands at $43,653, while the 13th race is at $47,953.
In addition, Ken Warkentin’s Friday and Saturday selections are available by going to Warkentin’s blog, which is accessible from the playmeadowlands.com home page.