Last year, The Meadowlands Pace was won by Captaintreacherous who went on to become the Dan Patch Award Winner as champion three year old pacer as well as Pacer of the Year for the second consecutive season. While Captaintreacherous was a dominant force in the three year old pacing ranks in 2013, the 2014 landscape is painted much differently, as this year's crop appears to be one of the most wide open of the last decade.
In addition, due to the increase in horses eligible for The Meadowlands Pace, the purse of the race will grow, according to Director of Racing Operations Darin Zoccali. "This year just worked out perfectly for this race. The combination of a wide open three year old pacing division tied into the changes we have made to the payment structure have secured a stronger purse for the Final of The Meadowlands Pace than the past two years, which was our hopes in implementing this plan," said Zoccali.
"At this time last year, we had 25 horses still eligible to the Pace. This year that number is 47, which is incredible. While the purse for the Final is always dependent on the number of eliminations, I estimate the purse for the Final being in the vicinity of $750,000."
In addition, the payment structure for the eliminations and Final of The Meadowlands Pace is different, with a $2,500 starting fee for the elimination and a $5,000 starting fee for the Final.
"We thought asking someone to put up $6,000 for just the elimination with no guarantee of making the Final was a policy that could be improved upon," added Zoccali. "By structuring the payments this way, we were able to lighten up the nominating and sustaining payments for the race, while only requiring a $2,500 starting fee for the elimination. Now, in the case where an owner's horse does not make the Final after contesting the eliminations, he has paid nearly $5,000 less than in previous years. These improvements will continue in 2015 and 2016 and I envision the purse continuing to grow as well."
To check out the leading contenders for The Meadowlands Pace, look through the latest edition of "The Road To The Meadowlands Pace" here: http://meadowlandsracetrack.com/uploadedFiles/2014_Road%20To%20The%20Pace_Week%208.pdf.
by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands