The Meadowlands kicks off its summer season with live turf and harness racing on Friday, May 4, and Saturday, May 5. Post time for the four grass events is 3:30 p.m., while Standardbreds take the stage at 7 p.m. Live music and a t-shirt giveaway also highlight opening weekend of the 2012 Championship Meet at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
Opening night festivities include free admission, program, Favorite vs. the Field drawing and a concert by acoustic duo C.O.A.L.G. at the Don Q Wedge outdoor bar. The night also marks the debut of the Beat The Bird contest in which Big M Club members are invited to out-pick Lola the parrot for the chance to win a betting voucher. Lola will make her picks live every Friday night on the Paddock Level. Contest rules and details will be available at the Guest Services desk.
The Meadowlands will host a Kentucky Derby Party on Saturday, May 5. The first 10,000 fans will receive a "Talk Derby To Me” t-shirt. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. Pegasus Restaurant will offer an all-day brunch buffet for $34.95 per person. Reservations can be made by calling 201-THE-BIGM. The party continues into the night with Cinco de Mayo drink and food specials and music by WPLJ 95.5 FM at the Don Q Wedge.
Ladies are encouraged to wear their finest hats for the chance to win nearly $1,000 in cash prizes in the Derby hat contest. Top prize is $500 and the contest is free to enter. Hats can also be purchased or made to order at the Kathy Jeanne hat station in Pegasus.
Girls Night Out at the Derby also features a culinary demo hosted by celebrity chef Ariane Duarte, Top Chef contestant and owner of CulinAriane restaurant in Montclair, NJ. Tickets are $45 and include a cooking demo and tasting, cocktail in souvenir mint julep glass, Derby t-shirt, Pegasus admission and Derby program, $5 betting voucher and handicapping help from racing analyst Barbara Luna. Tickets may be purchased in advance at MeadowlandsRacetrack.com.
The Championship Meet includes a full slate of weekly promotions and marquee stakes races. A fundraiser for the USO will take place on Saturday, May 19. All $2 general admission fees that night will be donated to the nonprofit that supports America's troops and their families. USO Night at the Races will also feature a concert by the Liberty Bells, a display of military vehicles and a $25 per person Red, White & Blue BBQ in Paddock Park. A $5 BBQ discount is available to those with military ID. To reserve a spot, call 201-842-5197.
Made in NJ Weekend, June 1-2, will celebrate the best brews, BBQ and bands the Garden State has to offer. WDHA 105.5 FM's Lindsay Klein will host a Battle of the Bands competition for cash prizes on Friday, June 1. The following night, grill masters will compete in a BBQ cook-off, plus guests will have the chance to sample or buy craft beer, wine, food, crafts and other products made in Jersey. Bon Jovi tribute band Slippery When Wet will perform after the races.
A unique pair of on-track events marks the second weekend in June. Camel and ostrich racing makes its Meadowlands debut under the lights on Friday, June 15. Fans can watch their favorite local TV and radio personalities compete for charity in the first Broadcaster Derby on the following evening, Saturday, June 16.
The Stride For The Cure/Ladies Night Event returns with a 5K to benefit the American Cancer Society. The race begins and ends on the track, giving participants the exclusive chance to go behind the Meadowlands starting gate. The $25 entry fee for the walk/run includes a commemorative event t-shirt. Registration is for the event is currently open at Active.com. WPLJ 95.5 FM will host the after-party featuring prize drawings, giveaways, drink specials and live music by DAME and other bands from 4 p.m. until the end of the races. The horses and drivers in the annual Lisa Photo Stride For The Cure harness race will also sport pink equipment in support of raising funds for breast cancer research.
The Meadowlands Pace and Hambletonian for 3-year-old horses once again headline the summer stakes schedule. Meadowlands Pace Night, Saturday, July 14, will be the biggest party of the year with music by Bruce Springsteen tribute act the B Street Band; Jersey boardwalk-themed rides, games and food; and a vodka tasting.
The popular Summer Beerfest is set for Saturday, July 21. Tickets are $40 per person and include park admission, live racing program and a commemorative tasting glass for unlimited craft beer sampling. The evening also features a concert by Outside The Box.
Corntastic Weekend, an event from Tioga and Vernon Downs, will be introduced to Meadowlands fans on Friday, July 27 and Saturday, July 28. Guests will receive a free ear of Jersey-fresh corn and the chance to compete in corn competitions - eating, husking and carrying – for prizes. The eliminations for the $1.5 million Hambletonian, live music by Smyle and a fireworks show complete the July 28 festivities.
Hambletonian Day, Saturday, August 4 continues its rich tradition as a day of family fun with rides, games, an autograph session and music by the Amish Outlaws. Post time is 12 p.m. for the matinee card. General Admission is $5 for adults and includes a souvenir program and baseball cap. Children will receive a drawstring backpack.
The Horseplay Car Giveaway will also make its Meadowlands debut during the summer meet. Every night, beginning May 4, guests who make a $1 donation to the Charity of the Month will receive a rubber horse to throw into the window of a moving car. One successful guest from each night will receive a $100 betting voucher and be entered into a grand prize drawing to win a brand-new Toyota Yaris on the night of the Championship Meet finale, Friday, Aug. 17.
New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC will match every dollar raised from the sale of the rubber horses and donate the proceeds to a local charity each month. Ronald McDonald House of Long Branch and New Brunswick, NJ is the recipient of the May proceeds. Ronald McDonald House provides a true "home away from home” for families of seriously ill children receiving care at medical facilities near its locations in Long Branch and New Brunswick. The charity also offers family rooms and a hospitality suite in the pediatric units of four hospitals in Monmouth and Middlesex counties.
Due to the NFL pre-season schedule, the Championship Meet will end on Friday, Aug. 17 with the first round of the Vernon/Meadowlands Driving Championship, live music and a fireworks show. The William R. Haughton Memorial and New Jersey Sire Stakes championships for 2-year-olds, originally slated for Aug. 18, will be raced that evening. The Haughton eliminations and second leg of the sire stakes will move to Friday, Aug. 10. (Meadowlands)