Plainridge Park ready for April 16 opener
April 13, 2018
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Coming off a season that saw a significant increase in purses and handle, 11 track records reset and the most competitive racing New England has witnessed in many years, Plainridge Park will open its 2018 live racing season on Monday, April 16, when the first race goes to post at 4 p.m.
The 19th season at The Ridge will include 110 racing dates that run through Thursday, Nov. 29. Post time is 4 p.m. every racing day through Monday, Sept. 3, when the start moves back to 2 p.m. The post time adjusts once again on Thursday, Nov. 1, to 1 p.m. where it will remain for the rest of the meet.
Race days will be Monday, Tuesday and Thursday until May 1 when the track goes to four days a week, adding Friday until the end of July. The schedule then reverts back to three days (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday) in August and remains that way until the end of the meet.
The track will be dark on Friday, July 27, and Thursday, Nov. 22.
Plainridge Park also offers full card simulcasting seven days a week: Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11:45 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
"We are committed to producing an excellent racing product and look forward to a successful and exciting season" said Steve O'Toole, director of racing at Plainridge Park.
In an effort to provide the best wagering options possible, O'Toole has brought back the popular Wicked Hi-5 pentafecta wager for another year and will be announcing some guaranteed wagering pools when the meet gets underway.
The track is also introducing 18 new claiming and late-closer series that will be run throughout the season.
The claiming series will include all price levels from both gaits and in some cases, divided by gender. Late closers include divisions for 2 year olds, 3 and 4-year-olds and aged horses of both gaits and genders. There are no nominating or starting fees for these races and finals will see purses as high as $25,000. All those events will be overseen by Plainridge Park race secretary Paul Verrette.
"In some ways we have gone back to the future by putting the summer long claiming series back on the condition sheet. They used to be a staple here and we are going to see if there is still interest in them." said Verrette. "We tried to compliment them with some series for younger and overnight horses as well. The hope is that there is a special event available for most horses and that it will keep the racing fresh throughout the long season."
Last year's leading driver and trainer will be back to defend their titles and are scheduled to be on hand opening day.
Greg Merton posted 230 driving victories in 2017 and they earned his connections $1.509 million in purses. Both of those totals were new track records. Monique Cohen was the meet's leading trainer a year ago with 71 wins and that was also a new track record for condition in victories for the session.
The Massachusetts Sire Stakes (MASS) are also on the agenda when all the summer action winds down. The estimated $1.3 million in purses up for grabs by state-reared Standardbreds will take place four consecutive weeks during the month of October. This ever improving program produced eight stake records during the competition last year and those standards will be under attack once again.
The dates for the 2018 MASS are Monday, Oct. 1, 2-year-old First Leg $25,000 added; Tuesday, Oct. 2, 3-year-old First Leg $25,000 added; Monday, Oct. 8, 2-year-old Second Leg $25,000 added; Tuesday, Oct. 9, 3-year-old Second Leg $25,000 added; Monday, Oct. 22, 2-year-old Third Leg $25,000 added; Tuesday, Oct. 23, 3-year-old Third Leg $25,000 added; Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2 and 3-year-old Finals,$85,000 estimated each leg. (Plainridge Park)