Meadowlands, where Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds have raced on the same program, will link the two breeds together June 5 when it offers a special daily double on the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and the first race of its evening harness card.
In the Belmont, undefeated Smarty Jones will attempt to capture the Visa Triple Crown Challenge.
Meadowlands, located in East Rutherford, N.J., just across the Hudson River from New York City, scheduled an early post time of 7:05 p.m. EDT for live racing, not long after the Belmont Stakes is run. Gates open at 10:30 a.m. to accommodate the simulcast of the Vodaphone Epsom Derby (Eng-I) from Epsom Downs and the full compliment of usual simulcasts that follow in the afternoon.
Chris McErlean, vice president and general manager at Meadowlands, said the hope is patrons will stick around for some live harness racing if they're live in the cross-breed double. The wager, however, also will be offered at outlets that simulcast Meadowlands harness racing.
"While this is the sixth Triple Crown on the line in the past eight years, the Smarty Jones story seems to have captured people's imagination," McErlean said. "Plus, he is a Mid-Atlantic story and there is a lot of interest in the area. We thought this was a good way to dovetail our live races that day into the Belmont buildup.
"Saturdays are our biggest nights, so this is a way to capture some of the 10,000 people we expect for the Belmont simulcast to stick around for our live racing."
Meadowlands had one of its most successful Kentucky Derby (gr. I) days ever this year in terms of total on-site handle. The track is the believed to be the largest wagering outlet in the country in terms of annual total on-site handle.
Like many tracks, Meadowlands will offer advance wagering on the entire Belmont Stakes program June 4.
A few years ago, Meadowlands offered Thoroughbred races on its turf course in conjunction with live harness races on the main one-mile track.