Thursday, March 2, 2023

Effective this Friday (March 3), The Meadowlands will celebrate their own March Mania after an extremely memorable February with the addition of a second 10-cent Hi-5 to one of the most popular wagering menus in racing.

The mile oval will have 14-race programs this Friday and Saturday (March 4) that have a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m.

“Given the fact that we were only offering one Hi-5, or Pentafecta, if you prefer, per night, adding a second simply made a lot of sense, since a chunk of our players don’t wait around for the last race,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “Now, they can get into a Hi-5 pool in both the seventh race as well as the last race of the night.”

Last weekend (Feb. 24-25), over $65,000 was pushed through the windows on the Hi-5, and despite favorites winning both races, the payouts were $702.67 and $525.81 on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

The “Prime Time Hi-5” will be the seventh wager The Meadowlands offers nightly that has a low takeout of 15 percent. Each Hi-5 has a low 10-cent minimum wager.

The Big M offers the traditional non-jackpot Hi-5 wager in order to keep the actual takeout at a low 15 percent for the benefit of the horseplayer.

THE SENSATIONAL SEVEN: These are the seven wagers The Big M offers nightly to the bettor that offer both a low minimum wager as well as a low 15 percent takeout. In addition, the two Pick-4s offer a guaranteed pool of $50,000.

The list:

  • Race 1: 20-cent Pick-5
  • Race 3: 20-cent Survivor Pick-7
  • Race 6: Early 50-cent Pick-4 ($50,000 guaranteed pool)
  • Race 7: Early 10-cent Hi-5
  • Race 8: 20-cent Pick-6
  • Race 10: Late 50-cent Pick-4 ($50,000 guaranteed pool)
  • Race 14: Late 10-cent Hi-5

INCREDIBLE TURNAROUND: The uptick in business when comparing Meadowlands handle during February of 2022 to this year is astounding.

A year ago, there was only one card during the second month of the calendar year that saw wagering top the $3-million mark. This year, all seven February programs (there was one cancellation) saw betting clear the $3-million hurdle, which includes the $3.8 million put in play on Feb. 18, a track – and presumably, industry – 2023 best.

In fact, thus far this year, there have been 15 programs contested on Friday and Saturday nights, and each one has seen wagering go past the $3-million mark.

Average nightly handle during February of 2022 was $2.77 million, while this year, that number was $3.38 million, an increase of over $600,000 per night.

“The loyal support of Gov. (Phil) Murphy, the New Jersey State Legislature, our horsemen and horseplayers around the world has resulted in The Meadowlands being the No. 1 nighttime product in all of racing,” said Settlemoir. “An international audience tunes in every weekend to see a mile track with non-stop action, full fields, large pools, low takeouts and chances galore to make a score.

“Much of our success can be attributed to our competitive racing. The percentage of winning favorites at The Big M is 35, which stacks up well against the top three Thoroughbred tracks. Gulfstream, whose favorites win 35 percent of the time, and Santa Anita and Aqueduct, which are both at 33. The Meadowlands offers horseplayers a solid chance to bet a little and win a lot.”

Some of last weekend’s payouts back those words up. On Friday, the Pick-5 returned $2,615 while the Pick-6 paid $8,010. Saturday’s big hits came in the Survivor Pick-7 ($8,767), 11th-race Superfecta ($11,491), 11th-race Trifecta ($19,721) and Late Pick-4 ($11,876).

PICK-6 CARRYOVER: There were no winning tickets sold in the 20-cent Pick-6 last Saturday night, creating a carryover of $7,627 when the bet is next offered on Friday night’s eighth race.

Since the carryover is not subject to the low 15 percent takeout, in the event there is $50,000 in “new money” wagered, players will be betting into a negative pool, where those who cash winning tickets will walk away with more than what was wagered.

For those who want to get a head start on their handicapping, they can get free past performances not only for the Pick-6, but for every race of every Meadowlands card by going to

OH YES, IT’S LADIES’ NIGHT: In observance of International Women’s Day (which is March 8), The Meadowlands will have some special guests and special events this weekend.

On Friday, Ashley Mailloux, an expert handicapper and interviewer who knows both Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing, will be Dave Little’s guest on the pregame show. Mailloux, who last appeared at The Big M in 2020, will talk about what she’s been doing since her last appearance at the mile oval.

Mailloux will give out a Pick-6 ticket after the seventh race replay from the back paddock, from where she will be conducting interviews during the card.

Saturday night, there are 20 female drivers – who will be split into two divisions – competing in the second and fourth races on the card, while Mailloux and the track’s Jessica Otten will be downstairs on-set all night long, beginning with the pregame show at 5:45 p.m. and continuing throughout the evening with race-by-race analysis and Pick-4 tickets.

THE RACES KEEP ON COMING: Live racing at The Meadowlands will take place every Friday and Saturday for the next 23 consecutive weeks. Post time is 6:20 p.m., except for the last day of the meeting, Hambletonian Day, Saturday, Aug. 5, when the first race heads to the gate at noon.

GET TWEETING: Everything Meadowlands is available by going on Twitter. You can check in with the Big M team for early changes, racing information and staff selections by going to @themeadowlands or #playbigm.

On race nights, stay in touch with Otten (@JessicaOtten1), Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Ken Warkentin (@kenvoiceover) and Edison Hatter (@Edison_1999_).

CHECK OUT THE SHOW: The live “Racing from The Meadowlands” simulcast show takes place every racing night, live from the Sam McKee Memorial Broadcast Set, with news, notes, selections and commentary on the night’s featured races beginning at 5:45 p.m.

HATTER’S RACE REVIEWS: Race reviews and selections by The Meadowlands’ morning-line odds maker and TV talent Hatter are available 48 hours before a given race card. To access this valuable information from one of the brightest young minds in the sport, simply go to, go to the “handicapping” tab, then click “race reviews”.

SEE THE GALLERY: With the March 1 launch party now in the rear-view mirror, check out an upscale hangout at The Meadowlands.

The Gallery has sports action on 16 LED TVs, plus a jumbo 220-inch screen.

Watch sports and get some great food while you take in all the action.

MARCH MANIA DINING: The NCAA men’s college basketball tournament is just around the corner, and discerning hoops fans know that the place to watch and wager on the action is in the FanDuel Sportsbook.

The tournament takes place from March 14-April 3.

The No. 1 facility of its type in North America, “The Book” is located inside the grandstand at The Meadowlands.

But basketball junkies aren’t limited to watching the games in the book.

Other options include reservations for the Grandstand Lounge on March 16, 17, 18 and 19, with a single bar seat available for $50; a two-top table for $100; and a four-top table for $200. The pricing acts as credit toward food purchases.

For complete details, go to

GET YOUR ACTION: The teams for the college hoops tournament won’t be known until they are selected on March 12, so in the meantime, here is a game to consider for your betting pleasure on Thursday (March 2).

In the NHL, the New York Rangers, fresh off an exciting overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday (March 1), will host the Ottawa Senators in a 7 p.m. faceoff.

The Rangers are a -154 favorite on the money line and are +148 to win by more than 1½ goals. The under/over is 6½.

Whatever the sport, for the latest odds, go to

The FanDuel Sportsbook is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-1 a.m.; Saturday 8 a.m.-1 a.m.; and Sunday 8 a.m.-midnight. For cash at counter customers, the hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-11 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m.-11 p.m.