Harness racing is in the midst of a new era at the Meadowlands, as the brand new $90 million facility stands tall on what used to be the backstretch of the Meadowlands, home to many of the sport's biggest starts. Many of those same stars that left their hoof prints where the new state-of-the-art facility gleams in the night skies of East Rutherford, N. J., also wrote harness racing history with those same hoof prints just 30 miles away at Roosevelt Raceway in Westbury, N. Y.
On Saturday night, May 17, the Meadowlands will turn back the clock and bring many of those stars to life with a night dedicated to the legacy of Roosevelt Raceway.
"It is with surpassing pride that we at the Meadowlands announce this tribute to one of the most historic venues in all of horse racing," said Meadowlands chairman Jeff Gural. "All of us involved in the sport of harness racing hold a place in our hearts for Roosevelt Raceway. It goes without saying that the ultimate destiny of Roosevelt was not of our own choosing. We did not expect, nor did we invite the closing of that magnificent facility that we all cherished. I know that I am not alone when I talk about the countless nights I spent enjoying what was then the home of the world's greatest harness racing and it is fitting to host this tribute at the present and future home of the world's greatest harness racing, the Meadowlands."
The evening's festivities will coincide with one of the Meadowlands most historic events, the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, which is the race that kicks offs the Free For All trotting season in the sport.
The highlight of the night will be a driver autograph session including many of the famed reignsmen that called Roosevelt Raceway their home for so many years. Drivers confirmed appearing include Carmine Abbatiello, Ben Webster, Frank Popfinger, Bill Popfinger, Merritt Dokey, Bobby Vitrano, Jim Marohn Sr., Mike Lachance, Herve Filion, Rejean Daigenault, Ted Wing, Gerry Sarama and more. If any other members of the Roosevelt Raceway racing colony would like to take part in this special event, please contact Sam Mckee at (201) 460-4090 at the Meadowlands.
The current stars of the Meadowlands driving colony will pay tribute to the drivers of Roosevelt Raceway in a Meadowlands race by donning the colors of the historic drivers of Roosevelt.
Famed broadcasters Dave Johnson and Spencer Ross will be appearing to add to the nostalgia of the evening.
In addition, the racing program will feature a commemorative Roosevelt Raceway cover and beautiful Roosevelt Raceway memorabilia will be displayed in the grand foyer of the Meadowlands. The food and beverage choices will remind many of Roosevelt not only by the items offered, but by the pricing as well. "I have always talked about the eat-your-heart-out on a pretzel at the end of my nights at Roosevelt. Now, we get to bring that to the Meadowlands,” added Gural.
The festivities will commence shortly after the running of The Preakness Stakes, at approximately 6:30 p.m., and will continue throughout the live racing program which begins at 7:15 p.m. It is recommended that those patrons who wish to dine that evening in Pink, Trotters or Victory Sports Bar make their reservations early. (Meadowlands)