EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Meadow Road of Sweden set a world record in winning the opening leg of the Statue of Liberty Series at the Meadowlands, but the real winner was the historic landmark in the Hudson River.

Some 16,201 fans paid their way into the track on Monday night and watched Meadow Road break the trotting record for a 11/2 mile event by four seconds in the $135,000 opening leg of the two-race series.

The $40,100 in gate receipts were donated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the owner of the track, to the fund to restorate the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

''Tonight was a great night for the Meadowlands because we took part in something that was very meaningful to our fans,'' said Robert Mulcahy, executive director of the sports authority. ''Our fans are a cross section of America and the Statue of Liberty symbolizes a great deal and we were delighted to put together an evening that had great entertainment and a great race.'' ---

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - The Vancouver Canucks have fired player personnel director Larry Popein and scout George Wood in a re-organizatio n of the National Hockey League team's front office, it was announced Monday.

Jack Gordon, the new director of hockey operations, said the contracts of Popein and Wood were terminated immediately, along with hockey secretary Diane Douglas, a long-time employee of the Canucks.

Popein, a former NHL player with the New York Rangers and Oakland Seals, joined the Canucks as an administrative assistant in 1974.

He had been in charge of advance scouting under former general manager- coach Harry Neale, fired last month after the Canucks finished out of the playoffs in the Smythe Division in 1984-85.

Wood, a minor-league goaltender for many years with Springfield of the American Hockey League, had been with the Canucks for more than 10 years, mostly scouting junior prospects.

Gordon, formerly assistant general manager, is expected to announce a new head coach Thursday, with Tom Watt of Toronto the leading candidate.

Watt, coach of the year in the NHL in 1982 with the Winnipeg Jets, is head coach of the University of Toronto Blues. ---

MONTREAL (AP) - A charge of mischief against middleweight boxer Alex Hilton was dropped Monday, but he'll have to stand trial in connection with a shooting incident in a motel parking lot last February.

One of Hilton's companions on a night out last Feb. 11 testified that Hilton went to the trunk of his car to show off a new .22-calibre rifle.

Serge Cusson said the rifle discharged just as Hilton began lifting it.

Police arrested Hilton at the wheel of his car a few minutes later, acting on a complaint that a $900 window in the motel was shattered by gunfire.

Judge Bernard Bilodeau, concluding the preliminary hearing Monday, ruled that Hilton must stand trial Aug. 2 on a charge of negligent use of a firearm. At the same time, Hilton is to also face charges of impaired driving and failing to submit to a breath test. ---

ATLANTA (AP) - For the second time this season, the Atlanta Braves have recalled infielder Paul Zuvella from their AAA team, this time to replace injured catcher Rick Cerone.

Cerone was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a strained muscle in his right shoulder, which he originally injured June 5 during batting practice before a game in Chicago. Cerone reinjured the shoulder during his last plate appearance Sunday against Cincinnati, the first game he had started since the injury.

Zuvella began the season at the Braves' Richmond, Va., farm team before being recalled when Atlanta traded catcher Alex Trevino. He was sent back to Richmond June 7 when the Braves recalled catcher Larry Owen. ---

SEATTLE (AP) - Dennis Jacques continued his assault on the field of the $115,000 Seattle Open, winning seven of eight match games in the fourth round and increasing his advantage to 286 pins Monday night.

Jacques, seeking his second career Pro Bowlers Association title, lost only a 214-196 decision to Steve Martin and maintained his 234 average through 26 games. The Middletown, N.J., bowler took a pinfall total of 6,-301 into Tuesday's final two rounds of match games.

Marshall Holman of Jacksonville, Ore., an 18-time PBA champ, was the closest player to Jacques with a total pinfall of 6,015.

Sixteen-time titlist Wayne Webb of Indianapolis was another 12 pins back with 6,003.

Jacques, who has led the entire tournament, won with games of 244, 217, 258, 224, 222, 258 and 258. Earlier in the day he rolled a 300 to go along with a 299 in Sunday's first round.