09/26/2016 10:30AM

Meadowlands lowers takeout for 14-day turf meet


New Jersey racing moves from Monmouth Park to the northern part of the state Wednesday evening as the Meadowlands begins a 14-day all-turf meet that runs through Oct. 19.

Racing will be held Wednesdays through Saturdays with a 7 p.m. Eastern first post. The final three cards of the meet, Monday through Wednesday, Oct. 17-19, will be daytime programs starting at 1:10.

To attract new players and encourage betting, the takeout on all wagers has been lowered to 15 percent, the lowest in the nation. The previous rates were 17 percent for win, place, and show; 19 percent for exactas and daily doubles; 20 percent for the Jersey Shore 6; 25 percent for pick threes, trifectas, and superfectas; and 15 percent for the pick four and pick five.

“It’s an exciting experiment that has produced quite a bit of positive feedback,” said Dennis Drazin, the head of Darby Development, which operates the Monmouth-at-Meadowlands meet on behalf of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “Fans are always looking for a lower takeout, and at 15 percent across all wagers, we are delivering.”

Exchange wagering will be offered for New Jersey residents who are within state boundaries and have Betfair accounts.

Most of the races during the Meadowlands meet are lower-level events, but they traditionally draw good-sized fields. All six Wednesday races have full 10-horse lineups, and two have also-eligibles.

There is free admission, parking, and seating.

Racing is restricted to the turf because the Meadowlands is a harness facility the remainder of the year and the cost to convert the main track is prohibitive. Cards will be canceled if the turf course is deemed unsafe due to wet conditions.

Jeff Gural, who operates the Meadowlands, built a new grandstand that opened in 2013. The $88 million facility is smaller than the old Meadowlands but is sleek with modern amenities.

Trotters will serve a buffet each race day, and the Victory Sports Bar and the Victory Roof Top Terrace will be open during each program. The upscale restaurant Pink will be open only on Saturday nights.