Meadows moves racing to afternoons
The Meadows Race Track will be switching to daylight racing when the Washington County track re-opens this month.
Races at the harness track will start at 12:15 p.m., moved from its traditional 6 p.m. post time.
"It really doesn't matter to me," said Dave Palone, the Meadows' all-time winningest driver. "It's kind of nice to race in the afternoon and be done with it, and go to dinner with your family."
The 2007 season begins Oct. 17, following a two-month closure for the demolition of the grandstand and the start of construction of a $155 million casino and hotel.
A lack of electrical power at the main track necessitated the switch. Meadows general manager John Marshall said the power source at the track had to be removed during the construction project.
The Adios Room, which served as a simulcast parlor during the track's closure, and the backside are fully powered, Marshall said, but not the light standards.
Marshall said the track will consider returning to night racing next year. The 2008 racing schedule is due in late November. The track is dark on Fridays and Sundays.
"This gives us an opportunity to experiment," Marshall said. "Then we will evaluate it."
Marshall said the horsemen are cooperating, and the track will adjust training times to accommodate morning breezes and workouts.
With the new starting time, the Meadows will fill a niche as one of the earliest betting opportunities at national simulcast parlors. Most harness tracks run late afternoon or at night. For example, on Thursday, only two harness race tracks being aired at the Meadows simulcast facility began earlier than 5:30 p.m.
While the early start will detract from its West Coast simulcast revenue, the Meadows will have the advantage of airing alongside many of the top thoroughbred tracks with its simulcast signal.