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Hambo Dropping Heat Racing In 2020

Published: May 9, 2019 12:23 pm ET

Last Comment: May 9, 2019 7:39 pm ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

The Hambletonian Society and the Meadowlands Racetrack have signed a two-year contract extension guaranteeing the host venue of the $1.2 million Hambletonian, $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks and the $400,000 Hambletonian Maturity through 2023.

The Meadowlands has been the longest-running host track of America’s Classic Trotting event, having held the race for 37 years since the society relocated the race from the DuQuoin State Fair in Illinois to the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey in 1981. It is traditionally held the first Saturday in August, with this year’s $1.2 million event slated for August 3. The race is simulcast internationally and attracts record wagering handle and attendance at the northern New Jersey track.

“We look forward to continuing our relationship with the Hambletonian Society,” said Jeff Gural, CEO of Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment. “We pride ourselves on showcasing world-class harness racing and the Hambletonian, Hambletonian Oaks and Hambletonian Maturity are an important part of our Championship Meet.”

John Campbell, president and CEO of the Hambletonian Society, echoed those sentiments. “We are extremely pleased with our relationship with the Meadowlands, and consider the Meadowlands the true home of the Hambletonian. The society is delighted with the resurgence of harness racing in New Jersey and the Hambletonian contract extension is another indication of the strength and permanence of the sport in the Garden State.”

The Hambletonian has undergone multiple format changes and been raced at six host tracks since 1926. The racing conditions allow for flexibility in the format, and in 2020 eliminations will be contested the week before to determine the final field. Hambletonian No. 95 is scheduled for August 8, 2020.

Prior to 1991, entrants had to win two heats to be declared the Hambletonian winner, though a third heat or race-off only occurred three times in Meadowlands history. From 1991-1996, the same-day heat format was still utilized, but the winner of the final heat was declared the Hambletonian winner. In 1997, the eliminations moved to the week before the event so the Meadowlands could create a week-long Hambletonian Festival, including Breeders Crown Open races. When Jeff Gural leased the Meadowlands from the state of New Jersey in 2011, same day heats were put back in to play for the race in 2012, and will remain through the race of 2019.

“The flexibility in the conditions allows the society to always act in the best interest of the race, the sport, our host track partners and most importantly the health and welfare of the horse,” continued Campbell.

Eligibility to the Hambletonian begins each year with a May 15 yearling nomination and continues with sustaining payments through a horse’s two and three-year-old year. There are no supplements to the Hambletonian or Oaks.

The Hambletonian is the first leg of the trotting Triple Crown. It is currently the only harness race to be broadcast on network TV, and has been for more than 30 years.

(Hambletonian Society)

May 9, 2019 - 7:39 pmSad to see!!!! Great races

Craig Conley SAID...

Sad to see!!!! Great races which had heats, no longer. Hambo, Jug... I took time off work to see these races. Losing the people who love to bet on the sport. Shake my head. Ask John what it day it was when he drove Life Sign to Jug victory!! Thank God Thoroughbred Racing, and the Triple Crown know how it's done!! Don't mess with tradition!!

May 9, 2019 - 3:18 pmThis is good news that we are

This is good news that we are going to eliminations but a sad reminder that it is the only harness race covered by network TV. We need to do something about that.

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