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Big M Rewards Program, Purse Increase

Published: March 11, 2014 4:16 pm ET

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The Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey (SBOANJ) together with Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment have announced that beginning on November 14, 2014, a system will be implemented for taking entries that will reward those trainers who raced their horses predominantly at the Meadowlands during the period of March 28, 2014 through August 2, 2014.

Over that same period of time, the Meadowlands is pleased to offer horsemen an increase in purses at the B-Class and free for all level.

Beginning Friday, March 28, 2014, the B-2 Class will receive an increase from $14,000 to $16,000, while the B-1 Class will receive an increase from $16,000 to $20,000. In addition, the free for all will carry a purse of $35,000 if nine or more starters enter. It will remain at $30,000 if eight or fewer starters enter. The increase encompasses both pacers and trotters, horses and geldings, or mares.

Over the course of this four-month period, records will be kept by both the race office and the SBOANJ to determine which trainers are racing the majority of their horses at the Meadowlands.

Those qualifying for the rewards program will receive preference when entering their horses, beginning in November of this year.

There will be two criteria for a trainer to qualify for the rewards program.

1) Any trainer with a minimum of 20 total starts from March 28, 2014 through August 2, 2014, whose horses raced at the Meadowlands more than all other tracks combined over that period of time will qualify for the program.

2) Any trainer with more than 60 starts at the Meadowlands from March 28, 2014 through August 2, 2014 will qualify for the program.

Waiver Clause:
Any trainer with fewer than 20 starts over the same period of time at all other tracks combined may ask for a waiver to be included in the rewards program.

The rewards program only pertains to overnight races. All stakes, early closer and late closer events are excluded from the program.

Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural embraces both the purse increase and the rewards program.

“I have asked our horsemen several times to support us over the last two years,” Gural said. “I am elated to be able to offer this purse increase along with this rewards program so that the horsemen who continue to race at the Meadowlands will be able to get their horses raced every week in the winter months, which is the period of time our entry box is in its highest demand. The horsemen that continue to support us deserve the opportunity to race for purses on the highest level. I hope this increase goes a long way in accomplishing that. It is their support, in allowing us to card full programs with full fields that makes this possible.”

“We tried to implement this program this past winter,” said Tom Luchento, president of the SBOANJ, “but trainers felt that they were not given advance notice of the policy and now their horses were not getting raced. So, we agreed to suspend the program until the following meet. Now, we are able to announce this program along with an important purse increase. Not only will our horsemen who support the Meadowlands be able to get their horses raced each week in the winter, but they will get to race for more money along the way. This is a win-win for the horsemen. The horsemen should acknowledge this as notice that if they want to get their horses raced each week in the winter, they should continue to race at the Meadowlands the rest of this season. Not only are they being given advanced notice, but they are receiving a purse increase as well.”

Speaking to the purse increase, Director of Racing Operations Darin Zoccali expressed why the B-Class was chosen for the increase.

“We have seen some gains in certain areas that contribute to our purses,” said Zoccali. “Some of the B-1 level races that have been contested at the Meadowlands this year have looked more like A-1 events. Those races deserve a bit more separation from the C-Level, and we believe this increase accomplishes that. This increase puts our overnight purses on par with the slot-enriched programs in Pennsylvania. To be able to accomplish that is a testament to the support we have been shown by the horsemen, allowing us to card full-fields all winter.”

This increase actually marks the fourth purse increase since Jeff Gural took over operations at the Meadowlands and the second for the B-class horses. Thus far, the Meadowlands has made the following increases since 2012, regarding purses:

NW1 - $10,000 (Previously $9,000)
NW2 - $12,500 (Previously $9,500)
NW3 - $15,000 (Previously $12,500)
C-2 - $9,000 (Previously $8,000)
C-1 - $11,000 (Previously $10,000)
B-2 - $16,000 (Previously $12,000, then $14,000)
B-1 - $20,000 (Previously $14,000, then $16,000)
FFA - $35,000 If 9 or more starters (Previously $30,000)

“We are close to having raised purses across the board since taking over operations,” said Gural. “It is interesting that it seems to have gone a bit unnoticed that we have implemented these increases over the past two years. I strongly believe our purse structure is competitive with any track in harness racing and hope the horsemen respond and continue to enter their horses.”

These increases will be in effect from March 28 through August 2.

(Meadowlands Racetrack & SBOANJ)

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