"I read the story on harnessracing.com on Monday (Jan. 6) about the canceling of the big races in Pennsylvania so I thought we'd pick one of those up. We rolled with it—actually, we rocked and rolled with it,” Northfield Park executive vice president of racing Dave Bianconi told harnessracing.com Friday morning about the announcement of the inaugural $500,000 Carl Milstein Memorial for 3-year-old colt pacers on Friday, Aug. 15.
Bianconi was referring to a harnessracing.com story about the Super Stakes Sunday program that had been contested in mid-August at Harrah's Philadelphia and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs that was being taken off the 2014 calendar. Those now-canceled races included the Battle of the Brandywine for 3-year-old colt pacers.
"If you had asked me last Monday morning about a race this year I would have said no way, but when I read your story I checked around and found there were no other big races around those dates,” explained Bianconi. "We race Fridays through August, and there is no Meadowlands and high school football, which is huge around here, hasn't started yet. It's after the Meadowlands Pace and the Adios, and a month before the Little Brown Jug, so it's just great timing. We thought we'd better strike while the iron was hot.”
The $400,000 (est.) Milstein Memorial is open to the eight richest horses at time of entry, with the next eight eligible to a $100,000 consolation. Northfield Park will pay $250,000 in added money to the total purse.
"We had kicked around the idea of a Carl Milstein Memorial for years, but we wanted it to be a really good race with a big purse,” Bianconi said of the race named in memory of the late Northfield Park owner. "We were looking for 2015 because I thought with the opening of our Hard Rock Rocksino last month that we would have the money then. When this opportunity came up, I said let's rock and roll with it.”
Bianconi said he conferred later Monday with Northfield Park chairman Brock Milstein (Carl's son) and CEO Tom Aldrich, and all were on board. He then called Hambletonian Society president Tom Charters and stakes manager Callie Davies-Gooch, who came up with a payment schedule for the early-closing series.
"I have to thank Tom and Callie because they were on board right away and got it all done for me quickly so we could announce it,” said Bianconi.
The Hambletonian Society is handling all payments for the Milstein Memorial. Here is the payment schedule:
$500 on Feb. 15, 2014
$1,000 on March 15
$1,250 on April 15
$1,500 on May 15
$4,000 due at entry
Horses may be supplemented to the race at entry time for a total fee of $34,000.--by harnessracing.com