The Meadowlands will require those drivers wishing to compete during the 2022 "Championship Meet" to apply for approval to drive in Meadowlands stakes by including a clause regarding such in the stakes conditions. The conditions for all 2022 Meadowlands stakes and early closers will be posted in the "Horseman" section of the USTA website, soon.
The dates to apply for approval will be April 18 and reapplication on May 16.
Drivers will be required to compete at The Meadowlands beginning the first weekend of March and to race at The Meadowlands on each card of harness racing. Exceptions may be made for stakes at other tracks and legitimate personal reasons. Those drivers that race other circuits that come in for stakes will be expected to adhere the policies in place regarding the running of the races.
The approval process will be based on several factors, including management's observations on drivers adhering to the rules of racing as contained in the NJRC rule book, most notably;
§ 13:71-20.6 Racing and track rules; driving procedures
(a) Although a leading horse is entitled to any part of the track except after selecting his position in the home stretch, neither the driver of the first horse, nor any other driver in the race shall:
7. Let a horse pass inside needlessly or do any other act which constitutes what is popularly known as helping;
11. Laying off a normal pace and leaving a hole when it is well within the horse's capacity to keep the hole closed.
Cooperation with the revised whipping/urging rules is another important component. It is imperative for Meadowlands to be acutely aware that the public's perception of the practices of racing is as important as the actual safety and welfare of the horse itself.
"While we recognize the drivers need down time after stakes season ends in late November, it hurts our product when owners and trainers and customers want access to all of our best in the world drivers and don't get it," said Meadowlands President Jeff Gural.
"Our goal is to get Meadowlands racing on TV regularly and that opportunity may be available to us in 2022. We must be able to present the best possible product in an effort to hopefully get a new generation of customers interested in our sport."