Meadowlands Takes Steps to Improve Track

The Meadowlands main track will have a new surface when it opens its seven-week Thoroughbred meet Sept. 30. Jockeys at the New Jersey track last year contended that pebbles found in track samples created unsafe conditions and nearly boycotted the season opener.

Hoping to head off any further complaints, more than 11,000 tons of material has been used to create the sand, loam, and clay surface on the one-mile oval.

"We've taken a number of steps which we think will produce the best possible racing surface for the Thoroughbred horsemen," said John Chevalier, director of properties at the Meadowlands.

He said the material has been double screened to dramatically reduce stones.

"Before we laid down the cushion, we graded off any excess trap rock from the Standardbred surface, applied a tack coat and then rolled it to capture any loose particles. We kept watering it and the weight of the trucks compacted it even more.

"The tacking agent on the track and the material it adheres to will be thrown away when we lift the Thoroughbred cushion for the switch over to the Standardbred meet that starts on November 18," Chevalier added.

"We will be replacing about 2,000 to 3,000 tons of material each year but this should go a long way in keeping the surface free of stones and trap rock residue."

The conversion of the track for the Thoroughbred meet took place on Sept. 13.

"We worked around the clock," said Chevalier. "There was a threat of rain, and we wanted to get it down."

"I've never seen the racetrack look so good," said Mike Musto, executive director of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "It looks impeccable, outstanding. Hopefully, it will please the jockeys and trainers, too."

The 30-date Meadowlands Thoroughbred meet runs through Nov. 12.