Thursday, December 1, 2022

November continues to bring good returns to both Meadowlands’ regulars and management, as for a fourth consecutive year, business has shown gains at the No. 1 harness facility on the planet during the 11th month on the calendar.

All-source handle averaged a not-too-shabby $2,110,835 during November of 2018, but business has improved every year since, as 2019 saw an average of $2,390,320, $2,510,807 in ’20, $2,534,332 in ’21, before this year’s $2,757,205.

The last live racing night of the month was the best in terms of handle, when $3,398,962 was put in play on the brilliant 14-race program that made up “Fall Final Four/TVG Championships Night” on Saturday (Nov. 26).

“The industry has seen enormous progress since the horse racing bill was passed in 2019,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “Everyone in the industry owes a resounding thank you to Gov. Phil Murphy and the members of the New Jersey State Legislature.

“At The Meadowlands, we have the biggest pools and low take outs. Combine that with competitive racing featuring 10-horse fields, that leads to bigger payouts, which is what our fan base craves. Last weekend, just 10 favorites scored from 28 races. The price of many things are going up these days, but a win bet still costs just $2, the same as when we opened the doors at The Big M in 1976.”

The fans came out in droves on Saturday, and why not? The Fall Final Four saw the best 2-year-olds in the sport go at it, while the TVG events brought out the game’s greatest aged stars, including a pair of fan favorites – Atlanta and Bulldog Hanover – who called it a career.

Atlanta’s list of accomplishments are plentiful:

  • Co-fastest female trotter in history with a time of 1:49 (tied with Manchego)
  • Co-holder of the track record at The Meadowlands, 1:49.1. (tied with Ecurie D DK, which makes her the fastest female in Big M history)
  • Fourth-richest female trotter in history, $3.5 million
  • In 2018, she became the first filly in 22 years to beat the boys in the Hambletonian and was named the Dan Patch Award Trotter of the Year
  • She added a Dan Patch Award plus an O’Brien Award in 2019 as the top trotting mare in the U.S. and Canada
  • Her two-dozen Grand Circuit wins include the 2018 Kentucky Filly Futurity as well as victories over male rivals in the 2020 Maple Leaf Trot, Allerage Open Trot, Dayton Derby and Cutler Memorial plus the 2019 Graduate Series final and Charlie Hill Memorial. She also won two editions of the Armbro Flight (2019 and 2022) and the Allerage Mare Trot (2021 and 2022).

The game’s biggest star, Bulldog Hanover, went out on top, pacing a back half in :53.1 on the way to an easy 1:47.3 score in the TVG Open Pace Saturday, his 14th win of the 2022 from just 16 outings. Some other highlights include:

  • Fastest mile in history with a 1:45.4 clocking in the William Haughton Memorial at The Meadowlands on July 16, 2022
  • Co-holder of the fastest mile in Canadian history of 1:46.4, which he accomplished twice, most recently in the Breeders Crown at Woodbine Mohawk Park on October 29, 2022
  • Has four of the nine fastest race miles in history and a total of six wins in sub-1:47 (Allywag Hanover is next with three)
  • 2022 wins include the TVG Open Pace, Breeders Crown, William Haughton, Canadian Pacing Derby, Dan Patch and Graduate Series final
  • Unbeaten at The Meadowlands this year (five-for-five)
  • Bred 79 mares this year prior to racing
  • Jack Darling bought the horse for $28,000 at the 2019 Standardbred Horse Sale. Brad Grant bought into the horse in 2021

But ‘Bulldog’ was just one of eight winners on the big night at The Big M. The others were:

  • Ecurie D DK in the TVG Open Trot. The Ake Svanstedt trainee capped a season that saw him win just three races (the Cutler, Breeders Crown and TVG), yet that should be enough to take home divisional hardware
  • Grace Hill upset defending Horse of the Year Test Of Faith in the TVG Mares Pace. The Virgil Morgan Jr. student also surprised Test Of Faith in the Breeders Crown
  • Bella Bellini, who finished the year as the second-ranked horse in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Top 10 Poll, was an easy winner in the TVG Mares Trot (Atlanta was fourth in her final career start)
  • El Rey exploded home to take the Governor’s Cup (2-year-old male pace)
  • Volume Eight followed up his 8¼-length romp in the Kindergarten with an easy score as the 3-5 favorite in the Valley Victory (2-year-old male trot)
  • Zanatta did what she did in her elim – track the leaders – before gunning them down in the Three Diamonds (2-year-old filly pace)
  • Bond concluded her marvelous season with an easy speed score in the Goldsmith Maid (2-year-old filly trot)

THIN DIMES, FAT PAYOFFS: The Meadowlands always offers its faithful opportunities to hit big despite bets that have small base wagers.

On Friday (Nov. 25), the eighth-race 20-cent Pick-6 returned $6,101; third-race 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 paid $5,883; third-race 10-cent Superfecta paid $3,475; and 12th-race 10-cent Hi-5 paid off $5,471.

On Saturday (Nov. 26), the eighth-race 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 paid $5,432 and seventh-race 10-cent Superfecta returned $1,100.

Harness racing’s biggest pools are at The Meadowlands, and that was on display last weekend when Friday’s 20-cent Pick-6, with the help of a double carryover, had a total pool of $139,648. The 50-cent Pick-4s took in plenty of green on Saturday, when $135,275 and $106,590 were pushed through the windows on the first and second Pick-4s, respectively.

LIVE RACING THURSDAY: The final Thursday card of the year at The Big M takes place tonight (Dec. 1). Post time is 6:20 p.m.

Moving forward, racing at The Meadowlands will be conducted on a Friday-Saturday basis through the end of the year, with a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m. There are two exceptions on the schedule, as there will be no live racing on Dec. 23-24.

Every live racing night, the “Racing from The Meadowlands” pregame show begins at 5:45 p.m. Join Dave Little and Jessica Otten, who will have news, notes and previews of the upcoming card.

GET ON TWITTER: 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_).

FREE PROGRAMS: Free past performances for every race for every Meadowlands program are available 48 hours before a given card. To access the no-cost official program pages, go to

6 WINES, 6 COURSES: On Saturday (Dec. 3), come to The Meadowlands and enjoy a six-course wine-tasting dinner for just $79.95.

Call 201-THE-BIGM for reservations.

For complete details, go to

BRING JOY, BRING A TOY: Bring a new, unwrapped toy to the track to give a child in need some happiness this holiday season, and if you do, you’ll get a $5 betting voucher.

The Big M’s “Toys for Tots” drive began Nov. 22 and runs through Dec. 9. On the 9th, former New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa will be on hand from 7-9 p.m. helping the U.S. Marine Corps collect gifts for Harlem Grown – an organization whose mission it is to inspire youth to lead healthy and ambitious lives. Justin Walters from PIX-11 will serve as master of ceremonies.

CALENDAR GIVEAWAY: On Saturday (Dec. 3), be one of the first 500 guests and receive a 2023 commemorative calendar filled with images of the game’s greatest horses and drivers in action during 2022. The giveaway begins at 6 p.m. at the Players Club Desk in the Clubhouse Lobby.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! The Meadowlands is the place to be to ring in 2023. On Saturday, Dec. 31, it’s Fan Appreciation Night. Head over to the Café, Rooftop Terrace or Backyard for $1 concession items (hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, soda). The discount prices are available from 6-11 p.m. The Café will also offer Bud/Bud Light drafts for $2 each.

Buffet dining is available for $64.95 and includes a complimentary champagne toast. Call 201-THE-BIGM for reservations.

Ten minutes after the conclusion of the card, stay for a fabulous fireworks show.

FABULOUS FANDUEL: The Meadowlands is the top harness venue in North America. The FanDuel Sportsbook, which is located inside the grandstand at the mile oval, is also tops in North America, when it comes to sports betting.

Come on out for football Sundays and enjoy the $12 wing bar. Fans can also play trivia as they watch – and wager – on NFL action with tellers or self-service betting terminals. The action can be viewed all day on massive TV screens.

Sunday Trivia runs through Dec. 25 with host Marc Malusis in the Lounge.

On the local football front, on Sunday (Dec. 4), the Jets travel to Minnesota for a 1 p.m. game. The Vikings are a 3-point favorite in the game that has an under/over of 44½.

In another 1 p.m. kickoff, the Giants are a 2½-point underdog when they host the Washington Commanders. The under/over is 40½.

IT’S A WILD WORLD (CUP): The United States Men’s National Team advanced to the round of 16 in the World Cup after a thrilling 1-0 win over Iran on Tuesday (Nov. 29).

The Americans were in a must-win circumstance, and they came through after playing to a draw in each of their first two matches on the pitch.

Their next game is Saturday (Dec. 3) against the Netherlands at 10 a.m. The Netherlands, usually strong on the national soccer stage, is the favorite at -230. But the USA, who have yet to lose in the tournament, is +182. Be sure and head to the FanDuel Sportsbook and watch all the action in comfort. Coffee and pastries are available at the Café.

The tournament runs through Dec. 18 when the championship match takes place.

There will be special hours when the book will be available for fans to get their action. From Dec. 1-Dec. 2, 9:30 a.m.-1 a.m.; Dec. 5, 6 and 9, 9:30 a.m.-1 a.m.