Live harness racing returns to Central New Jersey on March 1, 2012 with the opening of the 90-day meet at Freehold Raceway, America's oldest pari-mutuel harness track.
The first 39-dates, the spring season in March, April and May, offers a three-day a week schedule â€“ Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. First post is 12:30 p.m.
Freehold will mark the March 1 opening day with a special $13.95 buffet in the Renaissance Dining Room and a free six-pack cooler to patrons who purchase a Freehold live program [while supplies of the coolers last].
The stakes schedule features the $160,000 estimated Dexter Cup Trot on Saturday, May 5 [eliminations, if needed, on April 28] and its companion filly event, the $80,000 estimated Lady Suffolk Trot on May 4. These are both showcases for three-year-old trotters.
Eight of the stakes on the Freehold schedule are sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey, restricted to New Jersey-sired horses [all purses are estimates] and positioned during the 51-date fall meet: the $58,000 Marion Dancer on September 6, the $70,000 Helen Smith on September 7, the $80,000 Charles Smith on September 14, the $60,000 Harold Dancer on September 20 and a quartet of $50,000 to 60,000 New Jersey Futurities [September 14, October 5, October 12 and October 13].
Freehold will once again be participating in the United States Trotting Associationâ€™s Strategic Wagering Program and will be offering a $5,000 guaranteed Pick-4 (races 2-5) each day of the meet.
For the Opening Day card on March 1, 2012, horsemen must declare in by 9 a.m. Monday, February 27, 2012.
For the balance of the meet, Freehold will have a regular draw schedule: Tuesday 9 a.m. for Friday; Wednesday 9 a.m. for Saturday and Saturday 9 a.m. for Thursday.
by Carol HODES for SBOANJ