The 2014 Championship Meet at the Meadowlands will offer over $9 million in purses for its stakes races, headlined by the $1.2 million Hambletonian on Saturday, Aug. 2. Carrying a $1.2 million total purse, the Hambletonian is the richest Standardbred race in North America and will be the first jewel of the trotting Triple Crown in 2014. Hambletonian Day will also include a wide array of other stakes races, with total purses for the day being approximately $3.5 million, the richest day of racing in the state of New Jersey. The Hambletonian program will also include the Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, Peter Haughton Memorial, Merrie Annabelle, Lady Liberty and more.
"Hambletonian Day is always the greatest day of racing for our sport each year and we are thrilled to be the home of such a historic event,” said director of racing operations Darin Zoccali. "It is an event like the Super Bowl for us, where as soon as Hambletonian Day is over, we begin working on the next one.”
This year's Hambletonian will be the first in the new $100 million Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment facility.
"We are excited to give the Hambletonian a brand new, state-of-the-art facility to call home,” said general manager Jason Settlemoir. "The experience for our customers will be better than ever, with more activities and a wide array of options for our customers to enjoy the day how they want, from fine dining, a gorgeous sports bar, skyboxes, a rooftop terrace and The Backyard which will be an enhanced version of the old paddock park. In addition, the day is sure to have a more intimate connection to the racing than ever before, as we have been feeling that energy all season long here at the Meadowlands.”
Post time for the Hambletonian Day program is scheduled for 12 p.m.
The Meadowlands' signature event, the Meadowlands Pace, will take place on Saturday, July 12. Thanks to proactive changes made to the payment structure of the race, the Meadowlands Pace is showing promising growth through the sustaining payments and will carry a purse of an estimated $750,000 for the 2014 edition.
"We worked very hard on improving the Meadowlands Pace,” said Zoccali. "We implemented an altered payment structure which will continue to evolve going forward and we are already seeing the results through the sustaining payments. This year's Meadowlands Pace is trending toward a substantial increase in the purse for the final over 2013.”
The Meadowlands Pace program will also offer a huge card of racing, including such races as the Mistletoe Shalee, Stanley Dancer Memorial, Del Miller Memorial, William Haughton Memorial, Golden Girls, New Jersey SiresStakes Championships for 2 year olds and more, producing a near $3 million night of stakes action. Meadowlands Pace Night will feature a special start time of 6:30 p.m.
New to the 2014 stakes calendar is the $400,000 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters, to be contested at 1 1/8th miles on Saturday, July 5, which is Meadowlands Pace elimination night. A maximum of 16 horses will be on the gate for the $400,000 event.
"This is a unique event,” added Zoccali. "It would be great to see upwards of 12 or 13 horses entered as the race would have a European-style feel to it and I think is something we will all enjoy. It also provides a major race for the 4-year-old trotters to target as their stakes season kicks off.”
Other major events are the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, to take place on Saturday, May 17, and will coincide with Roosevelt Raceway Legacy Night. The New Jersey SiresStakes Championships for 3 year olds will be on Saturday, May 31, and the Meadowlands Maturity Pace on Friday, June 13, which is likely to mark the 2014 debut of Captaintreacherous, the 2013 Pacer of the Year.
While not a part of the summer Championship Meet, The Breeders Crown makes its return to the Meadowlands in the fall, with the finals taking place over two championship nights of racing, Friday, Nov. 21, and Saturday, Nov. 22. The Standardbred stakes season will end the following Saturday night, Nov. 29, with the second annual $1 million TVG Free For All Championships. The 2014 Meadowlands stakes program will offer an estimated $16 million in purses and the full stakes schedule can be found at http://meadowlandsracetrack.com/uploadedfiles/2014_Meadowlands_Stakes_Schedule.pdf. (Meadowlands)