Meadow Lands, Pennsylvania 15347
The Meadows Racetrack and Casino is a standardbred harness racing track and slot machine casino in North Strabane Township near Meadow Lands, Washington County, Pennsylvania, United States. The facility is located between U.S. Route 19 and Interstate 79, 5 miles north of Washington, Pennsylvania, United States and 25 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States.
In November 1962, ground was broken for the first parimutuel horse racing track in Western Pennsylvania. The track opened on June 28, 1963 and was operated by the Washington Trotting Association.
The Washington Trotting Association was purchased in February 1973 by a group including famous trainer/driver Delvin Miller. Miller's imprint still exists on the track today, with The Meadows most prestigious race bearing his name (the Delvin Miller Adios), and a statue of his famous sire Adios located at the track's entrance.
The Meadows introduced two significant technological advancements in 1983: Call-A-Bet and the Meadows Racing Network (MRN). Call-A-Bet allowed users to create individual wagering accounts and phone in wagers for races. In conjunction, the Meadows Racing Network telecast each day's live races and was distributed to local cable providers. The telecast also included a half hour preview show hosted by track announcer Roger Huston. The track used a marketing campaign to promote the services with the slogan "Every 16 minutes the place goes crazy", alluding to the typically quick pace from race-to-race at harness tracks.
Pittsburgh lawyer Stuart A. Williams purchased the track in 1986, and subsequently sold it England-based Ladbroke Group PLC in 1988. The company changed the name to Ladbroke at the Meadows, and opened a series of off-track betting parlors named Ladbrokes. The first opened in New Castle, Pennsylvania, United States in June 1990. Locations followed in Greensburg, Harmar Township, Moon, and West Mifflin (all in Pennsylvania, United States). The Greensburg location was closed in 2000 following the decline and eventual vacancy of the Greengate shopping mall at which it was located. All other locations currently remain operational.
Magna Entertainment Corp leased the track from Ladbroke in 2001. Magna transformed Call-A-Bet into Xpressbet, an internet and telephone based wagering service that allowed users to not only wager on The Meadows, but also on numerous other tracks owned by Magna or with whom a business agreement was in place. The Meadows was also featured on HRTV, a cable television station part-owned by Magna. The OTB names were changed to "The Meadows-location" (e.g. The Meadows-Harmar). Another Greensburg OTB location was opened in 2004 but closed in 2007.
Las Vegas based Cannery Casino Resorts purchased the track in July 2006. Magna was retained to operate the track under a five year management contract.
In December 2007 Crown Limited, an Australian company, agreed to purchase both Cannery's casino assets as well as The Meadows. However, in March 2009 Crown backed out of the deal.
Legislation passed in the state of Pennsylvania in July 2004 included The Meadows among the locations slated to obtain a gambling license for slot machines. The legislation upheld a 2005 legal challenge by gambling opponents, and on September 27, 2006, The Meadows was awarded a gaming license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
On November 16, 2006, The Meadows broke ground on construction. Plans called for initial construction of a temporary casino adjacent to the track, which opened on June 11, 2007.
On September 5, 2007, a ceremony was held to mark the beginning of the grandstand removal, which was necessary to clear space for the permanent casino. The permanent casino opened on April 15, 2009; the temporary building was also closed on this date. Amenities include a 350,000 square foot casino, premier steakhouse, food court, specialty restaurant with view of the race track, covered grandstand, simulcast viewing area, vip boxes, and a boutique-style bowling alley. The Meadows features 3,700 slot machines.
The race track is a 5/8 mile (1006 m) oval. As the standard harness race distance is one mile (1610 m), races start on the backstretch and proceed through three turns.
The original track surface was made of Tartan, a synthetic material manufactured by Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing (3M). As problems with Tartan surfaces began to emerge, the surface was changed to a more traditional stone dust.
The track has no hub rail (inner portion is marked by pylons). The stretch is 566 feet (173 m) in length, and 80 feet (24 m) in width. There is an inside passing lane in the stretch, referred to as the Lightning Lane.
Unlike many other tracks in the United States, The Meadows conducts racing year round, with over 200 days of the year featuring live racing. The specific days that the track conducts live racing vary throughout the year. First race post time at 4:05 PM EDT.
Races are conducted with a maximum of nine starters. All horses start on the gate; no trailer is used.