East Rutherford, NJ - A stakes laden Saturday night card signals the return to the kind of racing that makes The Meadowlands great. With but five weeks left in the 2015 summer live racing season at The Big M the Grand Circuit is here to stay through Hambletonian Day, August 8.
First post is 5:30 pm both Friday & Saturday for this week.
No fewer than half of the fourteen races are stakes. Leading the way is a pair of eliminations for next week's Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace.
The division's top sophs are in for the $50,000 Pace eliminations. The first split comes in race six, featuring 2014 Dan Patch Award winning freshman and dual New Jersey Sires Stakes champ Artspeak versus the 2015 Art Rooney Memorial winner In The Arsenal.
North America Cup winner Wakizashi Hanover and Hempt Memorial winner Wiggle It Jiggleit will tee it up once again in the eleventh race. Adding intrigue is new shooter Roland N Rock and his unbeaten record, emerging from the Midwest seeking East Coast cred and a piece of the $700,000 final purse.
Fans are invited to join the online conversation leading up to the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace by using #Pace15 on social media.
The Mistletoe Shalee drew thirteen three-year-old filly pacers, which led to the top three 2015 earners (Bettor Be Steppin, Sassa Hanover and The Show Returns) accepting byes into the $200,000 final leaving other ten left to battle for the remaining seven berths. They are a solid, well matched group and offer a great betting race as the twelfth on the bill.
The richest event of the evening is the $250,000 Graduate Trotting Final. This race concludes the inaugural season of the million dollar, four-race sequence designed to transition four-year-old trotters and pacers into the open ranks.
The Graduate Final pits trotting's newest star JL Cruze against last season's heavyweights, Trotter/Three Year Old Trotting Filly of the Year Shake It Cerry (who endeavors to strike a blow for feminism) and the Three Year Old Trotting Colt of 2014 Father Patrick.
The story of JL Cruze is truly a David & Goliath tale. While his chief foes were making national headlines last season, his lot was a laborious grind through the lower-end races of the New York Sires Stakes program. Sold to his Delaware connections for a modest sum at auction last fall, he dominated the Winter Series program at The Meadowlands and continues to successfully ascend the ranks. It sets up to be a fascinating race.
The $62,000 W. N. Reynolds Memorial for sophomore trotting colts (race 7) drew a bulky single division of eleven led by last year's Breeders Crown runner-up Muscle Diamond who returns to the Hambletonian trail after a two month hiatus.
The Mary Reynolds trotting fillies split and will go as races two and four, each for around $30,000.
On the wagering front, one of the two Super Hi-5 Jackpot's carryovers was cashed in last week. A Jackpot opportunity now remains in only the evening's last race, the pool currently stands at $175,601.
The fifth race will continue to offer a Super Hi-Five each night, but there will be no jackpot carryover pool. The pool will pay out each and every night and it will still carry an industry-low eight-percent (8%) takeout rate. Both wagers are offered at the $.20 cent minimum.
The early start (5:30 pm) is due to Taylor Swift's 1989 World Tour at Met Life Stadium. The timing should allow for an easy, traffic free exit after the races are complete.
More info is always available by visiting The Meadowlands website.