A Guide to Meadowlands Racetrack

Meadowlands Racetrack is a horse racing facility dedicated to thoroughbred and harness racing in East Rutherford in the Bergen County of New Jersey, USA. Also known as the Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, the venue is located at the Meadowlands Sports Complex.

Commonly called the Big M by the locals, the racecourse conducts racing events all year round and is a popular spot featuring various bars and restaurants. Presently, the track is managed by the New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC.

Here is a brief insight into the history and facilities of Meadowlands Racetrack.

Meadowlands Racetrack History

Meadowlands Racecourse opened on 1st September 1976. The first event held at the venue was a harness race, while the first thoroughbred race took place a year later, on 6th September 1977.

The racetrack has hosted some of the most exceptional harness races. The track’s extensive curves and wide-ranged stretches are ideal for harness racing. Even on the opening night, the track featured the fastest harness racing mile in the history of New Jersey by Rambling Willie.

The owner of Lowe’s Motor Speedway, among other venues, Bruton Smith, has been trying for since long to acquire the Meadowlands Racetrack and convert it into a short track for NASCAR competitions in the NY City area. While he made his last attempt to acquire the facility in the late 1990s, the idea of closing the racetrack and converting it into a NASCAR events venue or a commercial facility was again floated in 2010.

The idea was presented by the then Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. He also considered the idea of leasing the track to a private enterprise besides closing the facility.

However, a year later, in December 2011, Meadowlands Racetrack was privatised by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and handed over to Jeffrey Gural, CEO of the Newmark Knight Frank, a commercial Real Estate Firm. As a part of the privatization, $110 million was invested in improving the racecourse facilities. A new grandstand with around 2250 seats was added to the site, while it was decided that the previous grandstand would be used for Super Bowl events.

The previous grandstand was closed, and almost three weeks later, the new grandstand was opened for the public. A crowd of around 15,000 was in attendance for the opening day.

When sports betting was legalised in the state, a sportsbook, the Fanduel Sportsbook, was opened at the racetrack in June 2018 through collaboration between Meadowlands and Paddy Power Betfair. The facility features huge screens and self-serving betting terminals, so the punters do not miss out on any of the racing action.

Since its inception in 1976, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment has been indispensable to American horse racing. Over time it has evolved into a quality entertainment centre and undergoing changes to cater to varying customer demands and horse racing dynamics.

Meadowlands Racetrack Facilities

Like most of its counterparts in the country, Meadowlands Racetrack has a primary dirt track with a circumference of one mile and a width of 27m. The dirt track circles around the inner turf track, which is dedicated to thoroughbred racing only. It is around 1408m and has a width of 24m.

The turf track is equipped with night racing facilities, and most events are held at night. There is a small lake inside the track. As mentioned above, the venue has a clubhouse and a grandstand facility.

The new grandstand, constructed in 2013, covers an area of 180,000 square feet and has four floors. It has a capacity of around 10,000 people. The grandstand was opened for simulcasting on 8th November 2013 and was opened for the live racing spectatorship later in the same month on the 23rd to host the first harness race of the fall season.

When Is Racing Season at Meadowlands Racetrack?

Meadowlands racecourse holds thoroughbred racing in autumn, while harness racing events are held all year round.

Major races at Meadowlands Racecourse

Meadowlands Racecourse is home to various prominent harness and thoroughbred horse races. Since 1981, the Meadowlands Racetrack has been hosting the Hambletonian, the first leg of the Trotting Triple Crown.

Furthermore, it is also the site for the Cane Pace, the first race of Harness Racing’s Pacing Triple Crown since 2015.

Until the 1990s, the Meadowlands Racecourse held numerous thoroughbred horse races. Many of these were later shifted to Monmouth Park. Some of the most prominent Grade 1 races previously held on the tracks include the Pegasus Stakes, Meadowlands Cup, Violet Handicap, and Morven Stakes, among others.

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