East Rutherford - Despite a relentless winter that seemed to never want to end and an interruption in racing due to the being held at MetLife Stadium, the early returns on the 2014 Meadowlands season, the first in the new state of the art facility are promising.
Through 67 live racing dates, the on-track handle stands at $19,231,729, an average of $287,040 per card. That figure will increase through the final 14 dates of the season which include The Breeders Crown and TVG Free For All Championships.
All-sources export handle through the same 67 live racing dates is $168,020,021, an average of $2,507,761 per-card. With 14 racing dates remaining, export is trending toward surpassing $200 Million for the entire season.
Hambletonian Day was a tremendous success. While some international figures continue to trickle in, the current handle of $8,693,869 is an increase of over $1 Million from 2013 and is the third highest handle in Hambletonian history, behind only 2002 ($8.8 Million) and 2005 ($9 Million).
"I am very pleased with the first year in our new facility," said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. "First and foremost, the new racetrack is absolutely stunning and I don't believe there is a racetrack like it in the country. The most common comments I hear from our guests speak to how beautiful the racetrack is.
"I think the summertime and better weather allowed people to spread out more" Gural added, "enjoying all the outside amenities and as Hambletonian Day proved, any concerns that the new racetrack would not be able to handle the crowds on our biggest days were put to rest. The outside decks and the rooftop terrace offer some of the best views in racing and those locations are in very high demand in the warmer months. They seem to be attracting new and younger people to our facility which is critical to not only our future, but the future of this industry."
Meadowlands General Manger and C.E.O. Jason Settlemoir looks back at the 2014 season with a great deal of pride and optimism.
"I want to thank our horsemen for supporting us in this pivotal year at The Meadowlands and we look forward to continuing our excellent relationship with the SBOANJ going forward," said Settlemoir. I also want to thank The Meadowlands employees. It took a herculean effort by each of them to put together the season we had and I couldn't be prouder of the team at The Meadowlands. Last but certainly not least, a great many thanks to our customers who have embraced the changes at The Meadowlands. Without them, none of this would have been possible."
Looking forward to the Fall and 2015, The Meadowlands will continue its event-marketing strategy and providing its customers with events like Jerseyfest and Roosevelt Raceway Legacy Night that proved to be a huge success.
On the wagering front, beginning in the fall, there will be an exciting new low-takeout wager that The Meadowlands is confident when at its zenith will provide the largest pool in harness racing history. More details on the wager will come shortly.
Harness racing returns to The Meadowlands on Friday November 14th. That first weekend features the eliminations for The Breeders Crown, with the 12 Championship Finals to be contested on Friday, November 21st and Saturday, November 22nd.
Prior to the return of harness racing, thoroughbred racing will return to The Meadowlands on Thursday September 18th and will run through Saturday, November 1st. For the first time in several years, thoroughbred racing will be conducted at night, with a post time of 7:00 P.M. "I hope people come out to see the thoroughbreds," Gural added.
"This is a great facility for a night-time thoroughbred event and I look forward to seeing how it is received. I think it will expose the facility to an entirely new group of people and hopefully they will come back for the harness racing as well." There will be six races each night during the thoroughbred meet, with all races conducted on the turf course. The racing dates for the Thoroughbred meet can be found at http://meadowlandsracetrack.com/calendardates.aspx.
The 2015 Standardbred dates will be announced in the coming weeks.
by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands