John Campbell Previews Horse Racing’s Hambletonian

The 95th running of the Hambletonian will take place at the Meadowlands this Saturday, albeit with fewer spectators than usual

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
August 06, 2020 - 9:04 am

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The 95th running of the Hambletonian will take place at the New Jersey Meadowlands this Saturday, albeit with fewer spectators than usual.

“We’re going to have fewer fans,” Hambletonian Society President John Campbell said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think it’s 25 percent capacity that we’re allowed to have at the Meadowlands. There’s not going to be as many people there, but I think the people that will be there will have a really good experience. There’s 16 races that will be very entertaining, so I think it will be a good experience. It’s just going to be fewer people.”

The Hambletonian, like all sporting events, has had to adjust to evolving COVID-19 protocols. Roughly 2,400 people will be allowed into the Meadowlands on Saturday, and they will be peppered throughout the track to maintain social-distancing.

“Once we got [protocols] nailed down and we put the tickets on sale, they’ve gone rather quickly,” Campbell said. “The interest has been there, and the response has been excellent.”

For the first time in more than two decades, two fillies will compete in the 10-horse field.

All of the horses have continued to receive excellent care in recent months, even with the sport sidelined due to the coronavirus.

“The one thing about horse racing, the horses have to be cared for, and they train at training centers throughout New Jersey,” Campbell said. “We could move the horses up to the Meadowlands to race and keep the stables together and not intermingle with each other, so they really aren’t doing anything that they don’t do on a regular day to take care of the horses. So that was one thing that helped us get back going before other sports. We could follow the protocols and really just keep everybody in their circle and just move them to the Meadowlands and have very little interaction among the caretakers, the trainers and the drivers.”