East Rutherford, NJ — With the coronavirus having cost the Meadowlands 12 weeks of racing — a total of 24 racing days — there is no doubt Saturday (May 30) morning’s qualifiers will be received in a big way. They will serve to remind us all that racing is coming back. They will serve as a step back to normalcy.
“COVID-19 has had such an incredibly horrific impact on so many people, and that includes all of us in the harness racing business,” said Meadowlands Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “Many of us have lost friends and loved ones while so many horsemen have had to scrape by during the last three months as they continued to feed and care for their horses, not knowing when they would be able to get back to work and make some money to care for their families. We cannot change the bad things that COVID-19 has already done to us as an industry and a society, but we must move forward, because now that we are able, it’s time to get back to work.”
The first of what figures to be many Saturday qualifiers at the Big M will kick off at 10 a.m. For those interested, the entry box for the qualifiers closes at 10 a.m. Friday morning. Moving forward, any qualifiers after Saturday will take place only with regulatory approval.
Pari-mutuel racing at The Meadowlands is scheduled to resume on Friday (June 5) at 7:15 p.m., and once it does, live action will take place every Friday and Saturday throughout June and July with a first-race post time of 7:15 p.m. At this time, the dates are pending regulatory approval. Of course, given what is now known as the “new normal,” there will be no fans allowed inside the Big M for the foreseeable future.
“Because of safety concerns, we will not be able to have our fans come to the track to see the races,” said Settlemoir. “But we look forward to our faithful betting the races on their favorite app or online platform. As always, we are happy that our races will be shown nightly on TVG across the country. For those who might not have access to TVG, the Roberts Television Network (RTN) also carries our races live.
“COVID-19 was — hopefully — a once-in-a-lifetime event. All of us at The Meadowlands are thinking about everyone affected by the loss of life during the course of the pandemic, and want everyone to know that we will conduct our business at The Meadowlands in the safest way possible for our employees and horsemen, so that we can adjust to the new normal, and then, ultimately, one day, return to life as we knew it.”
For all of the latest news on the resumption of racing, visit the USTA COVID-19 Resource Center.