After 31 consecutive weekends of Friday and Saturday racing at the Meadowlands Racetrack this year, Hambletonian Day on Aug. 6 and its prodigious betting handle kicked off a well-earned break for those in the New Jersey horse racing and betting industry.
But harness racing returns to the Big M on Thursday, Sept. 1 — though only for two weeks of Thursday/Friday/Saturday racing followed by a standard Sept. 16-17 weekend schedule.
The third of the “Kindergarten Series” for 2-year-old horses will open the meet Thursday. Then on Sept. 23, it’s time for “Monmouth Park at Meadowlands,” as thoroughbred racing arrives for five Friday and Saturday cards (but no card on Oct. 15).
The second-to-last of only five dormant weekends at the East Rutherford site in all of 2022 takes place on Oct. 28-29. Then the standardbreds resume action on Nov. 4-5 as the first of seven consecutive weekends of races (including a bonus Thursday night Dec. 1 card). The track also goes dark on Dec. 23 and 24, resuming on Dec. 30-31 to ring out the old year and in the new one.
Other NJ racing options
The Monmouth Park meet in Oceanport is ongoing, with a four-day Friday-Monday card scheduled for Labor Day weekend Sept. 1-4. That is followed by Saturday/Sunday cards on Sept. 10-11 and Sept. 17-18.
Then the thoroughbreds come north to the Meadowlands, as noted above, for five weekends to close out the 2022 racing competition for that breed.
The state’s other track, Freehold Raceway, just concluded a three-month hiatus with races on Aug. 26-27. The Friday/Saturday schedule there — post time 12:30 p.m. for the harness racing cards — continues unabated through the rest of 2022, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve weekends.
Race handicappers, unite!
The World Harness Handicapping Championship is a one-day tournament at the Meadowlands taking place on Sept. 10.
Players that did not earn a seat through a qualifying event can directly buy in to the contest for $1,000. The entry fee includes a $300 bankroll, with the remaining $700 going to the prize pool.
The WHHC contest format requires players to bet exactly 10 Meadowlands races. Prize payouts go to the top 10. Each entrant must bet at least $30 but no more than $100 on each race selected — with win, place, and show wagering only on a single horse per race.
Contestants (a list of qualifiers is posted on the Meadowlands website) keep their parimutuel winnings, and there is a maximum of three entries per person. A program and dinner buffet for each entrant is included.
The expert of the experts
Track oddsmaker and TV host Dave Brower was the winner of the “Meadowlands Battle of the Masterminds” handicapping contest that ran from June 3 to Aug. 5. Brower finished the 22-day competition with an $11,565 bankroll and raised $1,000 for his selected charity, CBH Care.
Marketing coordinator and TV talent Jessica Otten grabbed second place with $9,035, earning $500 for New Vocations. Meadowlands TV host Dave Little earned the “show” slot with $8,441.60, thereby raising $250 for the Standardbred Retirement Foundation.
Colleague Ken Warkentin finished fourth with $7,434 and raised $250 for his selected charity, the Harness Horse Youth Foundation. Finally, Edison Hatter — the newest member of the broadcast team — placed fifth with $5,034.10. He raised $250 for his charity, which was the Purple Haze Standardbred Adoption Program.
Photo courtesy of Meadowlands Racetrack