12/09/2014 12:16PM

Northfield: Cleveland Classic canceled; revamped for 2015

JJ Zamaiko
Apprentice Hanover will be the last official winner of the Cleveland Classic.

The final stakes race of 2014 did not materialize. The $150,000 Cleveland Classic for 3-year-old pacers to be contested at Northfield Park on Friday was canceled by management due to lack of entries.

Only five horses dropped in the box—All Bets Off, Big Boy Dreams, Boomboom Ballykeel, Forty Five Red, and Good Citations—Tuesday morning. Each of the quintet will split the nominating fees and walk away with about $17,000 for entering.

“We’ve had some memorable Classics in the past, but things didn’t work out this year. We thought we had six and were planning to go with it, but at the last minute one of the horses came up lame,” said Dave Bianconi, Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting.

[DRF HARNESS: Sign Up for the FREE newly designed DRF Harness Newsletter!]

Apprentice Hanover, who won the 2013 edition, will be the last official winner of the Cleveland Classic as the race is getting a makeover for 2015. Switching gaits to the trot, the Cleveland Trotting Classic will debut next year as a race for 4-year-olds and up with a $200,000 estimated purse and $100K in added money. The race is slated for Friday, July 3.

“We already have a marquee race for 3-year-old pacers in the Milstein and don’t have an older trot. Plus it is easier to find a spot on the schedule for an older trot,” said Bianconi on the switch.

The Carl Milstein Memorial is slotted in for August 14 with a $400,000 estimated purse and $250k in added money. The final two stakes on the Northfield calendar include the Battle of Lake Erie ($200K estimated purse for 4yo&up pacers) on June 12 and the Courageous Lady ($125K estimated purse for 3yo filly pacers) on November 27. All of the Northfield stakes take place on Fridays and will be early closers in 2015.

Just shy of a year into Northfield’s rebirth as the Hard Rock Rocksino with slot-infused purses, all arrows are pointing up for the future, including purses.

“We are about to have another 5% increase next week (in purses) and there is still more room to grow,” said Bianconi. “We have been raising purses slowly because the last thing I want to do is over-raise the purses and have to cut them later.”