Everything you need to know as live racing returns to The Meadowlands.
by Debbie Little
Following a six-week break, here’s everything you need to know about what’s going on this month as live harness racing returns to The Meadowlands.
BRITS, BEANS AND BREEDERS’ CUP
Opening weekend kicks off tonight (Nov. 4) with a tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II.
The Queen loved horses and horse racing was her favorite sport.
On the track, the GSY Driving Club plays host to five British amateur drivers – Grant Cullen, Jaimie Davies, Richard Haythornthwaite, Marc Jones and Lee Morris – who will take on their American counterparts in two one-mile dashes – while in the Pink and Trotters buffet, British favorites, Shepherd’s Pie and Fish and Chips, have been added to the traditional American fare.
The weekend wraps up on Saturday (Nov. 5) with the fourth leg of the Kindergarten Series and The Meadowlands’ Chili Cook-Off: Fall Edition.
There will be official judging in three categories, Homestyle, Chili Verde and Salsa. The two top chili champs will get a $1,000 grand prize plus a spot in the ICS’s World Championship Homestyle Chili Cook-off.
The Salsa category winner will get a $500 grand prize as well as a spot in the ICS World Championship Salsa Cook-off.
If you’re not a chili cook, you can still be part of the festivities by tasting the free samples and voting for the People’s Choice chili, which has a $250 grand prize.
Wagering is available on both Friday and Saturday for The Breeders’ Cup from Kentucky’s Keeneland Racecourse.
COMMENCEMENT, COMMEMORATION AND CONCERT
The second weekend of the month belongs to the freshmen.
On Friday (Nov. 11), adept locals will be on display in $40,000 divisions of the NJ Home Grown for 2-year-old male and female pacers, while their trotting counterparts will strut their stuff in $60,000 divisions of the NJ Garden State.
More talented 2-year-olds take to the track on Saturday (Nov. 12) night looking to graduate to the winner’s circle in the Kindergarten Series with $300,000 finals for trotters and $225,000 for pacers.
The night kicks off early on Saturday with a Celebration of Life ceremony for the late Meadowlands’ TV host and handicapper, Dave Brower.
The memorial will begin promptly at 5:30 p.m. when horsepeople will start to walk from the paddock to the winner’s circle.
Friends and family are invited to take part in the remembrance. In addition, the evening’s open trot will be named in honor of Brower.
And if there wasn’t already enough going on that night, there will also be the ultimate Elton and Elvis Tribute Show at Trackside on the ground floor of the building.
ELIMINATIONS AND GIFT CARDS
Should they be necessary, eliminations for four major Grand Circuit 2-year-old races – the Governor’s Cup, Three Diamonds, Valley Victory and Goldsmith Maid – often referred to as the Fall Final Four, will be held on the third weekend.
In advance of Black Friday (Nov. 25), The Meadowlands is holding a gift card sweepstakes.
Gift cards range from $50 to $500, and drawings will be held following the first nine races on the card.
You can fill out the online registration form to be eligible here.
THE BEST FOR LAST
Saturday, Nov. 26, features the aforementioned Fall Final Four as well as the TVG finals.
As the final major Grand Circuit stakes of the season, it’s the last chance for competitors to impress before voting for year-end divisional honors start.
The TVG’s are for 3 and up competitors, and in the past, these races have been used for top-notch horses to have one last night to share with their fans before retiring.
No one can forget the great trotting mare Manchego refusing to let the blacksmith pull her last shoe, which led the connections of the three-time Dan Patch champ to bring her back for one more season.
The Dan Patch 2018 Trotter of the Year, Atlanta, a main rival throughout her career to Manchego, will have her final race on TVG night.
In addition, the incomparable Bulldog Hanover will return to race on the track where he became the fastest horse in the sport’s history with a 1:45.4 clocking in the William Haughton Memorial on July 16.