The Meadowlands has announced a stakes schedule for 2022 offering total purses estimated at $20 million.
The "Championship Meet" headliners are a pair of the sport's most sought after stakes. The track's signature $700,000 (est.) Meadowlands Pace, along with the supporting card that comprises the $2.5 million "Greatest Night in Harness Racing," is set for Saturday, July 16. The $1 million Hambletonian and $500,000 Oaks are featured on the most anticipated stakes-laden program of the season, the $3.5 million Hambletonian Day blockbuster on Aug. 6.
New to the schedule is the $2 million New Jersey Classic Series, for New Jersey-sired two- and three-year-olds in the elimination (if necessary) and final format in September. The three-year-old races are for trotters only, while the two-year-olds have trots and paces. There are two levels, designated as A and B, and payments provide eligibility to either. Connections can then choose which level their nominated horses will race in at declaration.
A mare division for the Graduate Series has also been added. It will mirror the existing Graduate schedule with four-year-old mares racing three legs and a $125,000 final. The second leg for all Graduate divisions will be raced at Woodbine Mohawk Park the first weekend of June 2022.
The Peter Haughton and Jim Doherty Memorial two-year-old trotting stakes have been enriched with more than double the amount of money added to the purse, from $45,000 to $100,000, thus pushing the estimated purse for each to $400,000 while the payments remain the same. As an added bonus, the winners of the Final of these two stakes may also activate a "Win & You're In" bonus offered by the Breeders Crown, providing the winner is Breeders Crown eligible. Those details will be provided by the Hambletonian Society.
The Freshman Fall Final Four stakes will return to the elimination and final format in late November with the final purses for those stakes in the $400,000 range.
Two of the races for older mares have been retitled for 2022. The connections of Perfect Sting and Six Pack have stepped up to sponsor the stakes previously known as the Artiscape and Joie De Vie, respectively.
The New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) races at The Meadowlands will offer substantially increased purses for 2022. An across the board 20 per cent bump puts the finals at $240,000, which is competitive with other programs in the region.
The $1 million TVG Championships list of point-earning races is on the Meadowlands website, and for the first time will include the Derbies at Hollywood Dayton, bringing the total to seven. Payments made to the TVG Championships do not provide eligibility to the point-earning races, which are separate stakes and require their own nomination and sustaining payments to secure eligibility.
There are a few administrative changes to the conditions for stakes. Beginning with 2022, all two-year-old stakes at The Meadowlands have new language in the conditions that excludes treatment with Lasix or any adjunct bleeder medication for the race. Be aware that language has also been included in the 2023 Meadowlands Pace conditions.
All Meadowlands administered stakes requiring eliminations will employ a new formula to draw for their respective finals. This method rewards a higher position in the official order of finish in the elimination with an increased percentage of a favourable post position draw for the final. The hope is to entice more competitive racing in the elimination races. This formula will not be used for NJSS or Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown administered stakes.
The Stallion Restriction Condition (Gural rule) language is available with the affected stallions and the stakes from which their foals are excluded.
A complete calendar schedule of Meadowlands live racing dates and stakes races, along with all stakes information, including dates, payments schedules and nomination forms, are available on The Meadowlands website.
Conditions for all Meadowlands stakes will be available soon on the USTA stakes condition page.