East Rutherford, New Jersey 07073
The Meadowlands Racetrack is a horse racing track at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States. The track hosts both thoroughbred racing and harness racing. It is known popularly in the region as "The Big M."
Opened in the mid 1970s, Meadowlands Racetrack held its first-ever harness race on September 1, 1976 while thoroughbred racing commenced on September 6, 1977. With the exception of the opening season of 1976, autumn has been dedicated to the thoroughbreds, while the rest of the year features standardbreds, or harness horses.
The advertising campaign that accompanied the start of thoroughbred racing at the Meadowlands in 1977 was highly sophisticated and well-received, and was chiefly noted for its use of the song "Racing With The Moon," originally popularized in 1941 by bandleader Vaughn Monroe (alluding to the fact that the racing was to be conducted at night - a circumstance that still pertains, although afternoon programs during long holiday weekends are occasionally put on).
More recent advertising campaigns have included a direct and catchy approach to attending live racing -- "It's All About Being Here - The Meadowlands!"
With its sweeping curves and wide stretches, the "Big M" has been known for exceptional times for harness racing. Opening night at the track featured the fastest harness mile run in New Jersey to that time, 1:55 3/5 by Rambling Willie. The world record for a mile by a standardbred, 1:46 4/5 by Holborn Hanover, in rein to George Brennan, was established at the track on August 5, 2006 in a division of the U.S. Pacing Championship.
The Meadowlands Racetrack has been the site of the Hambletonian, the first leg of the Trotting Triple Crown. In 2006 the Hambletonian winner was Glidemaster, who was driven to victory by Harness Racing's all time leading money winning driver, John Campbell, in a time of 1:51 1/5.
Leading drivers in recent seasons have included Ron Pierce and Brian Sears.
The track is operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, also the operator of Monmouth Park.
Sam McKee and Ken Warkentin are the current race callers and announcers for the Meadowlands. Veteran sportscaster Dave Johnson, the track's lead public-address announcer from its opening until the early 2000s, still does promotional events for the track as its "senior track announcer."
Humpy Wheeler, owner of Lowe's Motor Speedway and other motorsports racetracks, has long had his sights on Meadowlands Racetrack for possible conversion into a short track venue for NASCAR events in the New York City area. His most recent of several attempts to purchase the track failed in the late 1990s. A report issued in 2010 by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie discussed the idea of closing the Meadowlands Racetrack and selling it for commercial development or converting it into a NASCAR facility.
In July 2009, the Meadowlands Rail Line opened for event service, but is expected to run daily upon completion of nearby Meadowlands Xanadu.
Like many racecourses in the United States, the main (dirt) track at the Meadowlands has a one-mile (1609 m) circumference; inside of this is a turf course (used by the thoroughbreds only) which is 7 furlongs (1408 m) in length. With a span of exactly 3/16ths of a mile (302 m) from the top of the stretch to the finish line and a distance of exactly 1/16th of a mile (101 m) from the finish line to the beginning of the first (clubhouse) turn, the dimensions of the track are considered "typical" or "standard" for an American racetrack. The main track is 90 feet (27 m) wide, while the width of the turf course is 80 feet (24 m).
The track is equipped to race at night and most of its races are at night.
The Meadowlands Racetrack, including the main building, horse barns and site, was designed by the Philadelphia architectural firm of Ewing Cole (now known as Ewing Cole Cherry Brott), who also designed a number of other track facilities around the world as well as Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia (with Populous).
In the middle of the track is a lake, intentioned to resemble the state of New Jersey.