12/06/2012 12:04PM

Meadowlands: Gural Adds Older Stakes

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On Thursday the Meadowlands announced that they will introduce a few new stakes events geared towards older horses. The most exciting of the bunch is a Free For All series which will in theory cover almost the entire stakes season and culminate with two rich finals at the end of November.

While details are still being developed, the series will include many of the events for top older horses at the Meadowlands (Graduate, Nat Ray???), the Breeders Crown finals, the Allerage finals at The Red Mile and a bunch of $50,000 Opens to be raced at the Meadowlands in 2013.

The top point-earning trotters and pacers during the year (details on how points will be earned are still pending) will return on November 30 for a pair of $500,000 guaranteed finals. But wait, there’s more!

The winners of the Hambletonian, Meadowlands Pace and 3-year-old Breeders Crown finals can all be invited! This could potentially set up the true year-end matchups I have been clamoring to see for years.

The best horses regardless of age should take the stage at the end of the year and do battle. It happens all the time during the year in lesser events (NW3, NW4) and quite often in November and December as 3-year-olds graduate from these non-winners of X-races events. And of course it happens in the Breeder’s Cup Classic for Thoroughbreds. There is no reason why a Heston Blue Chip can’t try his luck against Foiled Again to decide who should be Pacer of the Year.

I have to hand it to Jeff Gural for taking a great idea and making it happen. While I don't agree with all of his decisions, you have to like someone who takes chances and tries to make racing better for fans of the game.

Other additions to the stakes calendar at the Meadowlands will include:

  • Return of the Governor’s Cup, Three Diamonds, Valley Victory and Goldsmith Maid for 2-year-olds in late November.

  • The $100,000 estimated Meadowlands Maturity for 4-year-old pacers and trotters to be raced in May.

  • The Hudson River Series (NW 4 races or $150,000) will have $18,000 legs contested in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and a $75,000e final at the Meadowlands.

Driver title

There is an interesting battle going on in the race to be leading dash-winning driver. Before action started on December 6, Dave Palone held a narrow 643 to 637 lead over Tim Tetrick in the standings. A close third is George Napolitano, Jr. at 622.

Despite a career year from Yannick Gingras at $13,144,747, Tetrick is dominating the earnings leaderboard. His mounts have earned a healthy $18,092,945, which marks the sixth consecutive year he has eclipsed the $15 million barrier.