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Big M/Tioga/Vernon to pay all stakes starters

January 07, 2015
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As the time to select the Grand Circuit engagements for your stakes hopefuls draws near, the Meadowlands presents several exciting new stakes and joins with Tioga and Vernon Downs in ensuring no one goes home empty-handed when racing in the open stakes administered by the three Gural tracks. The 2015 conditions will provide one percent of the total purse be paid to all out-of-the-money horses with the balance then paid out to first through fifth in standard fashion.
 
A redesigned web page will provide easy access to the information on stakes at all three tracks. The nomination forms may be filled out online and have been designed to address each particular group for age and gait, hopefully making the process less complicated and reducing the paperwork load.
 
The new stakes are to a large degree in response to horsemen's concerns.
 
To address the issue of racing 4 year olds against older foes, the Graduate Series has been resurrected, offering $1 million in purses spread over three legs and a $250,000G final for both trotters and pacers. The series kicks off with a $50,000e leg at Tioga on Memorial Day, May 25, then shifts to the Meadowlands for leg two at $75,000e and leg three at $100,000 in June. The $250,000G finals will also be raced at the Meadowlands with the pace on Friday, July 3, and the trot on Saturday, July 11.
 
Also being added for 2015 is a TVG Championship final for pacing and trotting mares with a $200,000G purse. The format will mirror that of the successful TVG finals, with points accumulated over a series of top races for the mares at various tracks over the season.
 
"These stakes have been added to address what the horsemen tell us,” said Meadowlands chairman Jeff Gural. "It seemed in 2014 that as the season went along, the 4 year olds gained strength and by the end were more than holding their own with the older horses. The Graduate will provide races against their own age for the first half of the year. The mares have been a competitive group the last few years and now they have another big race.
 
"The conditions for the all early-closing stakes at the three tracks have language that permits trainers no more than two (aside from horses they have trained since the start of their racing career) entries in the finals this year. Coupled with all the horses that reach the finals will realize some return on the investment in the stake (the one percent mentioned above) I'm hoping to encourage more people to take a chance on our races."
 
The Meadowlands has also agreed to host the $1.5 million Freshman Fall Final Four (payments for those will be handled by the Hambletonian Society) when reopening in November of 2015 and offer the inaugural edition of two new races for 3-year-old fillies to support them. The "Continentalvictory” and "Tarport Hap” named for two of the greatest mares ever, will offer a purse of $175,000e on Nov. 21.
 
New for older trotting mares in 2015 will be the $175,000e "Fresh Yankee” remembering the rags to riches queen of a few generations ago. This one will be raced on Hambletonian Day, Aug. 8.
 
The headliners are back with the $800,000e Meadowlands Pace leading a stellar stakes card on Saturday, July 18, and the $1,000,000 Hambletonian bringing the curtain down of the 2015 Championship Meet with the "Greatest Day in Harness Racing” on Saturday, Aug. 8.
 
All of these races have a nominating deadline of Feb. 15, 2015.
 
Tioga and Vernon Downs will continue their $2 million slate of stakes that include the $1 million Empire Breeders Classics for NY Sired 3YO, the Crawford Farms, Artiscape, Muscle Hill, Miss Versatility and Roll With Joe for older horses.
 
The new wrinkle for the upcoming season is the change in the purse for the final of the Kindergarten Trotting Classics. In 2015 the money in the pool for those finals shall be divided with 75 percent directed to the final and 25 percent to a consolation. This should, off the 2014 numbers, result in a final of approximately $175,000 with a consolation in the $75,000 neighborhood, giving a better earning opportunity to those not quite making the big dance.
 
All of the Tioga and Vernon Downs races have a March 15 close of nominations.
 
Any questions on the stakes should be directed to the Racing Office at 201-842-5130. (Meadowlands)
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