East Rutherford, NJ (World Wide Gamble) - Harness racing's premier event, the Hambletonian, will continue at The Meadowlands through 2014.
An agreement has been reached between the Hambletonian Society and Meadowlands leaseholder Jeff Gural.
As part of a three-year agreement to keep the mile race for three-year-old trotters at the New Jersey track, beginning in 2013 the race will revert to same-day heats to determine the race finalists. The Hambletonian has been held at The Meadowlands since 1981 and elimination heats have been conducted a week before the final.
"We look forward to continuing the long relationship that the Meadowlands has had with the Hambletonian Society," emphasized Gural. "I am thrilled that they have agreed to revert to the previous format of two heats on the same day, which I think will increase the excitement of the event dramatically."
This year's Hambletonian will be held on Saturday, August 4 with a final purse of $1.5 million. The 2013 edition will have a guaranteed purse of $1 million.
"We look forward to a new era with Jeff Gural," said Tom Charters, president and CEO of the Hambletonian Society. "The Hambletonian has flourished under the management of the NJSEA over the years and we feel confident that growth will continue with the New Meadowlands LLC and the changes we are making to the race. We think returning to heats will be exciting for the fans, particularly those onsite at The New Meadowlands facility on a day that is always the sport's greatest showcase."
Beginning in 2014 older trotters will be able to compete in a new event, the $400,000 Hambletonian Maturity. The new race will be conducted at 1 1/8-miles with as many as 16 trotters allowed to start.