Mid-Atlantic Region Faces Stall Crunch

November will be a critical month for many Mid-Atlantic horsemen as they seek to secure racetrack stabling for the winter.

In New Jersey, The Meadowlands concludes its meet Nov. 10 and plans to close its backstretch Nov. 22, which leaves no stabling in the state. Delaware Park will end its meet Nov. 4 and close its backstretch one month later. The Maryland Jockey Club intends to close Pimlico Race Course for the winter.

That leaves few options for horsemen that don't have the stock to race in New York or at Gulfstream Park. (The Hialeah Park barn area also will be closed this winter.)

"I've got 1,500 stalls on the grounds, and have received more than 2,500 applications," said Sal Sinatra, Philadelphia Park's director of racing. "Basically, I've given trainers already stabled here first preference, but in some cases have trimmed the number of stalls they're allotted. As an example, we're not allowing maidens that haven't hit the board 10 straight times to stay here."

Bruce Garland, vice president of racing for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which owns The Meadowlands and Monmouth Park, said that while Nov. 22 is the deadline for horsemen to vacate the backstretch, there could be a few exceptions.

"In cases of extreme hardship, some horses might be able to stay on the grounds for a while, but they won't be able to train, as the track will be converted from a Thoroughbred to Standardbred surface on Nov. 10," he said.

The Meadowlands new fall harness meet begins Nov. 16.

In a related matter, Garland said he is on a committee studying the feasibility of a training center in New Jersey. Garland said the committee, which was created through a provision in the recently passed off-track betting and account wagering legislation, was set to select an outside consulting firm to assist in the matter.