10/09/2013 11:10AM

Meadowlands: Last hurrah for grandstand as all-turf fall meet begins Friday

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Fans will have one last chance to view live racing from the four-story, glassed-in grandstand when the Meadowlands launches its 10-day, all-turf meet Friday.

New Jersey horsemen will get a few more opportunities to run their turf horses this fall, and fans will have one last chance to view live racing from the four-story, glassed-in grandstand when the Meadowlands launches its 10-day, all-turf meet Friday.

There are no stakes scheduled and just six races per day during the afternoon programs that begin at 2:15 p.m. Eastern. There will be four weekends of action on Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 2, plus a pair of Monday cards on Columbus Day (Oct. 14) and Oct. 28.

The six-race program fits conveniently with the continuation of the Jersey Shore 6 wager, which began this summer at Monmouth Park. The 10-cent bet pays out the entire pool if there is just one ticket with all six winners. If not, 40 percent of the pool carries over to the next card.

This is the last live meet for the current Meadowlands grandstand, which opened in 1976. The massive structure is being replaced by a much smaller grandstand, which will seat approximately 5,000, that is due to open for Standardbred racing next month. The new grandstand sits directly across the track from the old facility.

Entries were plentiful, with full fields of 10 in all but one race on Friday’s card.

The feature is a first-level, optional $16,000 claimer for fillies and mares going a mile in race 5. The two horses with the sharpest recent form are Philippis, who has been first or second in seven of eight starts on grass, and Aquinnah, a winner of her last two starts.

The 4-year-old Philippis drops in price after finishing a close second in a second-level optional $25,000 claimer at Parx in August. She won her previous three starts, all at Monmouth, while running for claiming tags between $12,500 and $20,000. She runs for the optional $16,000 tag on Friday.

Philippis was claimed for $12,500 in April from a mile-and-40-yard race on the main track Tampa Bay Downs.  She tried the dirt twice for her new connections, but raced poorly both times.  Everything changed for her on June 21 when trainer Yvon Belsoeur decided to try her on the grass.

“On the dirt, she was no good,” Belsoeur said.  “On the turf, that’s another story.  She’s shown versatility in her races, which is always nice. 

“She’s proved to be a real nice claim,” Belsoeur said.  “She really likes the turf at Monmouth and hopefully she’ll like the Meadowlands just as much.”

The 5-year-old Aquinnah had primarily been sprinting during the spring and summer, but flourished on the front end in longer races most recently. She won a $10,000 starter allowance going 7 1/2 furlongs at Parx and followed up by easily beating 10 rivals in a mile-and-70-yard race at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 19.

The 3-year-old filly Jean’s Surprise returns to New Jersey after three consecutive starts against slightly tougher competition in New York. Jean’s Surprise was second in the Desert Vixen at Monmouth in late July and won her career debut on the Meadowlands turf last fall.