East Rutherford, NJ – The Meadowlands issued the following statement on Saturday (July 17) regarding the meeting with competing drivers on Friday (July 16) and the resulting developments.
Those drivers attending were made aware of management concerns regarding some of the practices that had resulted in a significant negative response from our customers and were asked to revise those practices for the next three weeks until Hambletonian Day.
After watching Friday night’s card, Meadowlands President Jeff Gural has decided to delay the initiative due to the time of the season at The Meadowlands.
“I appreciate that the drivers gave us an ear and took our customer’s concerns seriously. There was a difference, take a look at race 13 for the most obvious example. However, after speaking with several of the drivers, I came to realize that this is not the best time, during the heart of our biggest stakes, to ask the drivers to make these changes to the way they race. Particularly with the 2-year-old races where the horses are still green and somewhat erratic.
“What we have decided is to delay our initiative until we reopen on September 3, after the post Hambletonian break. From there forward, we will be racing more overnights and those are actually the races we really have the concerns about the courtesy tucks and other issues.
“We now can offer enough purse money, the most recent grant from the state will allow for a $50,000 per card increase, to get the best horses and with our efforts to eliminate the drug trainers we have the cleanest racing.
“I want racing at The Meadowlands to be the best in the world. We have the best driving colony anywhere. I appreciate the drivers giving it a shot last night and I saw a difference.
“Our races are on the biggest stage possible tonight with the Meadowlands Pace card being televised nationally on America’s Day At The Races, I’m confident that our drivers will step up and perform like the pros they are.”
Management concerns on the racing practices will be revisited for a month in September and an evaluation will be made as to their effectiveness and success or lack thereof.