by Evan Pattak

A big pre-holiday weekend is set for Friday and Saturday at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino featuring rich wagering opportunities and fun festivities tied to two themes — thanking and honoring first responders and celebrating the track’s 55th birthday.

The events kick off with a special Friday twilight card, first post 5:30, that The Meadows and The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) have designated “First Responders Night.” To recognize their vital contribution to the community, all first responders who show up in uniform will receive a free Meadows program and a $5 wagering voucher.

In addition, the track will recognize members of the fire, police and EMT departments of North Strabane Township, where The Meadows is located, with representatives of those units competing in a match race. First responders also can earn $2 wagers on drivers they “win” by rolling dice.

Other fan activities include a BBQ Pit and bar on the apron, a bounce house, face painting, a balloon artist and a stilt-walker.

On the racing side, the card will include two attractive total-pool guarantees — $7,500 for the Pick 4 (races 4-7), $5,000 for the Pick 5 (races 9-13) — as well as a $5,271.40 jackpot for the Super High 5 (race 13).

The action continues Saturday, when The Meadows and its patrons will celebrate the track’s opening on June 28, 1963. Highlights include a Live Bankroll Handicapping Contest ($100 entry fee) and a T-shirt and Koozie giveaway for any mychoice member who has wagered on racing since January. Redemption coupons will be available at mychoice kiosks.

A Rib Cook-Off and the BBQ Pit and bar will be featured on the apron, where fans can enjoy a live concert by The Delaneys at the conclusion of the races. Saturday’s card begins at 1:05 PM and also will include a $7,500 total-pool guarantee for the Pick 4 (races 4-7) and a $5,000 total-pool guarantee for the Pick 5 (races 9-13) as well as the Super High 5 in race 13.

Finally, the MSOA will offer a number of games and giveaways. To participate or for more information, stop by the MSOA table in the Racebook.