Freehold Raceway reopens with live racing on Sept. 1

Live harness racing will return to Freehold Raceway, Route 33, Freehold, on Sept. 1. The track’s 41-day fallwinter meet will run through Dec. 17. Post time is 12:30 p.m. on all race days.

Freehold Raceway’s fall stakes schedule will get under way on Sept. 1 with elimination heats for the $70,000 estimated Helen Smith (3-year-old filly trot), the $80,000 estimated Charles Smith (3-year-old colt trot), the $60,000 estimated Harold Dancer (2- year-old colt trot) and the $58,000 estimated Marion Dancer (2-year-old filly trot).

The Smith and Dancer stakes are sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey. The finals will be held on Sept. 9.

The $100,000 estimated Babic Colt and the $60,000 estimated Babic Filly for 2- year-old pacers will hold their finals on Sept. 10. Eliminations for those races will be held on Sept. 3.

The Cane Pace, the first leg of the Pacing Triple Crown, has been the highlight of the fall-winter meet since Freehold Raceway started hosting the event in 1998.

Under an agreement Freehold Raceway officials reached with Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y., the Cane Pace will be held at Tioga Downs in 2011 and 2012 and return to Freehold Raceway in 2013.

A serious purse funding situation at Freehold Raceway was cited as the reason for the agreement with Tioga Downs.

In the absence of the Cane Pace, Freehold Raceway’s stakes races will be centered around New Jersey-sired horses in the Green Acres Division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes. The Sire Stakes races will get their start on Labor Day, Sept. 5. In the Green Acres Division, all divisions and gaits will race in three preliminary legs leading up to the finals, which carry an estimated $25,000 purse.

The first Green Acres Sire Stakes final will be held on Sept. 30 for 3-year-old pacing fillies. The dates for the other finals are: Oct. 1, 3-year-old colt pacers; Oct. 6, 2- year-old filly trotters; Oct. 7, 2-year-old colt trotters; Oct. 8, 2-year-old colt and filly pacers; Oct. 13, 3-year-old filly trotters; and Oct. 14, 3-year-old trotters.

Highlighting the New Jersey Futurity races will be a quartet of 2-year-old events with purses estimated between $50,000 and $60,000. The 3-year-old trot will be held on Oct. 7, the 2-year-old trot will be held on Oct. 14, and the 2- and 3-year-old paces will be held on Oct. 15.

In September and October, live racing will take place three days a week (Thursday, Friday and Saturday).

In November and December, live racing will take play on Friday and Saturday. The one exception is Labor Day, Sept. 5 (Monday). Freehold Raceway will be closed on Sept. 8.

The overnight purse structure will average $25,000 per day.

“We are going into the meet with an overpayment of $500,000 due to not receiving an anticipated payment of $540,000 from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority,” Freehold Raceway general manager Howard Bruno said. “As a result, we’ll have to scale back on overnight purses when we reopen Sept. 1.”

Jim Pantaleano was the driving champion for Freehold Raceway’s 2010-11 season with 232 wins. Dave Pinkney Jr. won the training crown with 56 wins.