Thursday, January 11, 2024

Talk about a great time to be a fan of both racing and sports.

As the National Football League applied the final brush strokes to their who’s-in-the-playoffs easel, the 2024 calendar year got off to a rousing start at The Meadowlands as did the track’s popular Winter Meet Survival Challenge.

A total of $3,228,728 was pushed through the windows on Friday’s (Jan. 5) 14-race program, good for an average per race of $230,623.

Saturday’s (Jan. 6) card was canceled due to inclement weather.

“The Big M continues to offer some of the most challenging and competitive racing in the industry,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “When you combine that with the largest pools, low takeouts, a mile track and a wagering menu that allows bankrolls both big and small the ability to make scores, you can see why The Meadowlands continues to be one of the most desirable wagering destinations in racing.

“As far as Saturday is concerned, we simply took into consideration the welfare of our horsemen, patrons and employees. We wanted to keep them safe, and given how far some people travel to the races for business or pleasure, we felt that was the correct move.”

This weekend, when racing will be conducted on the usual Friday (Jan. 12)-Saturday (Jan. 13) basis with 14-race programs that will begin at 6:20 p.m., once again, it’ll be a big-fields bonanza.

In fact, both programs will have one field with eight horses and another with nine. The other 12 races are all slated to head to the gate with 10 noses behind the starter car. Thus, over the 28-race weekend, there will be 274 (if there are no scratches) horses who will start, an average field-size of 9.78 per race.

“When it comes to racing at The Meadowlands, it’s all about full fields,” said Settlemoir. “And when we can provide them like we will this weekend, it gives our customers something they go for in a big way. The big fields make for less-predictable outcomes. That’s what the people want.”

SURVIVE AND ADVANCE: Last Friday also marked the first day of the track’s Winter Survival Challenge.

The WSC, which is powered by 123Racing, offers cash prizes and Meadowlands swag in the free competition.

The winner is determined by the highest total bankroll at the end of the Challenge based on a $2 across-the-board wager on selections for three designated races on each program.

The grand prize is $750, while $500 and $250 go to the second- and third-place finishers, respectively.

CIRCLE THE DATE: After three postponements, it’s finally time to save the date.

On Saturday (Jan. 13), The Big M’s calendar giveaway, likely the most popular freebie The Big M offers, will take place.

The first 500 guests will receive a 2024 commemorative calendar, filled with images of the sport’s greatest horses and drivers in action from the 2023 racing season.

Photos are courtesy of Big M track photographer Lisa Photo, DRF Harness’ Nikki Sherman, Walter Wlodarczyk and Jessica Hallett.

The giveaway begins at 6 p.m. at the Players Club Desk in the Clubhouse Lobby. One per person.

ONE FOR THE THUMB: The 20-cent Pick 5 continues to deliver extraordinary value. Two weeks ago, one lucky winner took home over $56,000 for the bet with the 20-cent base bet. Last Friday, the Pick-5 returned $5,156, despite a sequence that included two winning favorites.

The beauty of these types of wagers is that with a 20-cent minimum, bankrolls do not deplete quickly, allowing the player to stay in action.

The average pool sizes from Friday prove that patrons love to swim in the deep end:

  • 50-cent Pick-4: $78,449
  • Exacta: $70,550
  • 20-cent Pick-5: $63,695
  • Trifecta: $55,313
  • WPS: $54,060
  • Superfecta: $34,804
  • 20-cent Hi-5: $23,146
  • Daily Double: $23,086
  • Pick-3: $14,624

A STRONG PAIR: Friday night, multi-leg-bet lovers will have two carryovers to shoot for.

A week ago, the 20-cent Pick-8 failed to yield a winning ticket for a third straight program, creating a carryover of $5,022. Those with six correct collected $25.68.

The 20-cent Pick-6 will start out with $3,699 in the hat after no winning tickets were sold. Those with five winning selections were exchanged for $1,233.30.

The potential for negative takeouts is always on the table. This Friday, were the Pick-8 to attract $4,000 in “new money”, that would mean players would be betting into a pool that totals approximately $8,400. The significance for value players? The return would be 210 percent – instead of the usual 85 – in the event there are any winning tickets.

A TRIBUTE TO DR. KING: On Saturday (Jan. 13), there will be two divisions of the Martin Luther King Remembrance Race contested in races two and four on The Big M program.

The event, which features all African American drivers, pays tribute to the slain civil rights icon. At the conclusion of the King races, there will be photos and blanket presentations in the winner’s circle.

DID YOU SAY FREE? Free past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card are available by going to

THE SKED: Racing will be conducted every Friday and Saturday throughout January with a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m.

Big M TV’s live “Racing from The Meadowlands” pregame show begins at 5:45 p.m. On Friday, the track’s “A”-team of Jessica Otten and Dave Little will be on the Sam McKee Memorial Broadcast Set, while on Saturday, Mike Bozich – the voice of Harrah’s Philadelphia – will join Little for the night at the races.

LISTEN AND ATHEARN: Also on Saturday, Little will interview driver Matthew Athearn on the pregame show “In the Sulky” segment, which takes place shortly after the broadcast begins.

“X” MARKS THE SPOT: Everything Meadowlands is available by going on X (formerly known as Twitter). You can check in with the Big M team for early changes, racing information and staff selections by going to @themeadowlands or #playbigm.

Stay in touch with The Big M team of Otten (@JessicaOtten1), Little (@DaveLittleBigM) and Ken Warkentin (@kenvoiceover).

THE GREAT EIGHT: The Meadowlands provides eight opportunities for the player to make a score trying their luck betting in pools with a low 15 percent takeout. The lineup of The Big M’s “Great Eight” is as follows (all wagers – with the exception of the Pick-7 – are carryover eligible):

  • Race 1: 20-cent Pick-5
  • Race 2: 20-cent Survivor Pick-7
  • Race 4: 20-cent Pick-8
  • Race 6: 50-cent Pick-4 ($50,000 guarantee)
  • Race 7: 20-cent High-5
  • Race 8: 20-cent Pick-6
  • Race 10: 50-cent Pick-4 ($50,000 guarantee)
  • Race 11: 20-cent High-5

WITHERITE’S RACE REVIEWS: Race reviews and selections by The Meadowlands’ morning-line odds maker and program analyst James Witherite are available 48 hours before a given race card. To access, simply go to, go to the “handicapping” tab, then click “race reviews”.

EAT AND LEARN: Also on Saturday, Jan. 20, enjoy a tour of flavors found across all of Asia in a five-course dinner that features a cocktail paired with each course.

Plus, enjoy a “Sports Betting 101” tutorial with Emily West. West is the midday host on The New 102.7 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. She will talk about football, wagering basics and give out some tips for the night’s live harness racing.

The cost of $69.95 per person includes a live racing program as well as a $10 betting voucher. This offer is for those who are 21-years-of-age or older.

For more information, go here.