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Sep 30, 2005

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


With the Meadowlands opening their doors for the thoroughbred meeting on September 30th and will run through November 12th. With only a few graded stakes on its schedule the Meadowlands is not a big attraction to the top horses on the East Coast and will offer 33 total stakes worth $2.6million. But the fact that there is a new main track surface and the average daily purses will be approximately $275,000 we should see some very full fields. The track surface has been a problem in the past and has caused many horsemen to pass on the Meadowlands meeting which led to small fields and bad betting opportunities.

The new surface for the main track was finished September 13th. There was more than 11,000 tons of material that was used to create the racing surface. In an article from the daily racing form, John Chevalier, director of properties at the Meadowlands said, "The biggest problem that presented itself was that the two track materials were mixing, the harness track and the Thoroughbred track". "It was stinging the jockeys when they raced over it. It just wasn’t a good thing. The material had been about five years old, and so we made a commitment to replace it this year. It will definitely be safer and give the horses a nice cushion and pad underneath." The new surface is expected to keep the track free of stones and excess traprock, a problem that arose last year and led track management to make the decision to redo the surface.

Another factor they may impact the Meadowlands and lead to bigger fields is that there will be many turf races carded. Monmouth didn’t run any turf races in September because they were redoing their turf course in anticipation of the Breeders’ Cup in 2007. There are many trainers that have been waiting for this meeting, many didn’t want to run out of town and after looking at the opening day entries it looks like the turf races will be filling up quickly. From the four turf races scheduled for opening night there are 44 horses entered, an average off 11 horses a race. This bodes well for this meeting and those interested in betting on it.

If you are going to play the Meadowlands lets take a look at who’s who when it comes to the jockeys and trainers. Last year’s leading jockey was Stewart Elliott. 2004 was a big year for Elliott who had won two of three of the Triple Crown races and moved into the spotlight of the racing industry. However, 2005 has not been as good for Elliott, who is still riding well but just not at his 2004 level, he will be one to watch at the Meadowlands after finishing a distant second behind Joe Bravo. Bravo who returned nicely from yet another injury scored with 33.8% of his mounts and was in the money over 61.3% of the time. He is obviously the odds-on choice to win the title again but many of his horses are underplayed and not great betting propositions. Bravo was third last year to Elliott but is riding exteremly well right now and will be tough to beat. When looking for a price a jockey to look for is Jose Velez Jr. He finished with 12 wins last year for a 13.8% winning percentage but his in the money percentage shoots up to 47.1%. Velez had another solid meeting most recently at Monmouth and he rides for a lot of live outfits, follow him closely.

Last year’s leading trainer was Patricia Farro with 11 wins from 51 starters. Eddie Broome was a close second with Scott Lake one win behind Broome for third. Those three trainers will make a presence this meeting but some of the trainers to watch are Monmouth’s leading trainer, Kelly Breen who had a huge meeting and is an up and coming top trainer. Also trainer Bruce Levine, second in the recently concluded Monmouth meeting and very hot at the current Belmont Park meeting. He only had one win last year at the Meadowlands but expect to see more starters and certainly more wins before this year’s meeting is over. One trainer that you should look for when looking for value is Edward Allard. A very good trainer but one who may be overlooked especially because he doesn’t run many horses. From only 12 starters last year Allard had seven wins for a 58.3 winning percentage and an in the money percentage of 83.3%. Good Luck!

For more information and upcoming events, go to www.thebigm.com to check it out.



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