Thursday, August 31, 2023

– Still basking in the glow of a highly successful Hambletonian Day, The Meadowlands returns from a three-week hiatus with a power-packed two-week “Mini Meet” that kicks off Friday (Sept. 1) and features the New Jersey Classic, with estimated purses totaling $2 million.

Racing will be conducted on Sept. 1st, 2nd 8th and 9th with a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m.

“The ‘Mini Meet’ provides us an opportunity to showcase the state of racing in New Jersey,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “The New Jersey Classic series is another way – in addition to the resurgent New Jersey Sire Stakes program – for owners and horsemen to thrive while keeping their operations in the Garden State.”

The NJC – which is for 2- and 3-year-olds of each sex and gait – will have 11 eliminations on Friday and two more on Saturday before all eight divisions contest their respective finals next week.

A great example of how racing – and breeding – in New Jersey continues to flourish is the great mare trotter Fashion Schooner. During 2022, the daughter of Walner-Broadway Schooner, in addition to the Hambletonian Oaks, also won the $275,000 New Jersey Classic final and $240,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes final. Thus, the Garden State races accounted for 40 percent of her total earnings that season of $684,937.

“The proof is there,” said Settlemoir. “The breeding industry in the State of New Jersey is back, and all of us at The Meadowlands couldn’t be happier about it.”

BOOMING BUSINESS: The Meadowlands has been knocking it out of the park all year long from a business perspective.

This season, a total of $203,794,252 has been wagered on Meadowlands’ races, good for an average per card of $3,234,829, a little more than $200,000 better than 2021, when average wagering topped $3 million for the first time during the “Jeff Gural Era”, which had its first full year in 2012.

The biggest day in harness racing was exactly that. Hambletonian Day handle established a new record in the 10-year history of the new grandstand at The Big M, as a total of $7,805,779 was pushed through the windows on the 16-race program, by far the biggest number on any North American harness program during 2023.

After betting from international outlets was added to the North American total, wagering on the Hambletonian Day card exceeded the $8-million mark.

Betting on The Hambletonian itself was up considerably from a year ago, as $1,099,034 was put in play on “America’s Classic Trotting Race”, a 12 percent increase over 2022.

GET TO THE SET: Every live racing night, check out the live “Racing from The Meadowlands” pregame show.

This weekend, join host Dave Little and co-host Gabe Prewitt at 5:45 p.m. for a look back at Hambletonian Day, some news and notes and some in-depth analysis of the evening’s featured events.

Shortly before post time, Hall of Fame track announcer Ken Warkentin and Big M TV’s national television commentator (and usual on-set presence) Jessica Otten will join in with best bets and value plays.

IT’S FREE: Free past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card are available by going to

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 13 or 14 (whichever is the last race): Late 10-cent Hi-5

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.

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

FEELS SO WITHE-RITE: Back for a second tour of duty on what is a demanding task, James Witherite was recently named The Big M’s morning-line odds maker and program analyst.

“Things have a serendipitous way of coming full circle,” said Witherite, 37. “I enjoyed the challenge of setting the morning line at the Big M in 2016, and I very much look forward to getting that iron back in the fire. It’s a puzzle – it keeps me sharp.”

Witherite, the editor of the United States Trotting Association’s Hoof Beats magazine, is best known as a race caller, having served in that capacity at several tracks, including Harrah’s Philadelphia, Tioga Downs, Rosecroft Raceway and Beulah Park.

Witherite’s race reviews and selections are available 48 hours before a given race card. Head to The Meadowlands’ website (, go to the “handicapping” tab, then click “race reviews.”

NATIONAL EXPOSURE: The New Jersey Classic Series finals will be in the national spotlight with a live telecast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) at 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 8. Otten will provide the commentary.

SUPER SIMULCASTS: The Meadowlands is known for the best live harness racing in the world, but it also has a first-rate simulcast area, which will no doubt be buzzing this Saturday.

The $530,000 Maple Leaf Trot is the featured race at Woodbine Mohawk Park and has a post time of 10 p.m. Alrajah One IT is the 2-1 morning-line favorite while current division leader It’s Academic is listed at 5-2. The deep field also includes Venerate (7-2), who earlier this year won the Cutler Memorial at The Big M.

On the Thoroughbred side, $1 million will be up for grabs at Del Mar in the Pacific Classic, which has a post time of 9 p.m. EDT.  Geaux Rocket Ride (5-2) is the early choice on the morning line.

MEET THE MINI-PONIES: On Saturday (Sept. 2), come to the Backyard and meet and greet some cute racing ponies before they go at it in a very special race!

For complete details, go to Mini Ponies @ the Track – Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment :: Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment (

STEAKS AND STAKES: On Saturday (Sept. 2), the question is a simple one: Can you make a great steak?

If the answer is “Yes”, come on out to the track for The Meadowlands’ “Steaks and Stakes” competition. You could win $1,000!

For complete information, go to Meadowlands Racetrack Steaks & Stakes Night – Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment :: Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment (

IT’S ALMOST TURF TIME: Once harness racing concludes after the action on Sept. 9, the trotters and pacers will be away from The Big M for five weeks.

But for those of you who crave live action, fear not.

That’s because for the five weeks harness is absent, the Thoroughbreds will be at The Big M racing on the turf. Beginning Sept. 15, they will race every Friday and Saturday with a post time of 7 p.m. until Oct. 14.

Then, harness racing will return on Oct. 20 for the long run to Hambletonian Day.

FANDUEL’S FABULOUS: Football season is upon us, and if you like betting the NFL – or any other professional sports event – and would like to get your money down in the No. 1 facility of its type in North America, then head inside the grandstand at The Meadowlands and get your action in the FanDuel Sportsbook.

How about some prop bets on the local teams to get your season started?

The New York Jets have high hopes with the addition of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Odds makers are also high on New York. So high, in fact, that the Jets are -134 to make the playoffs. Do you think the Jets will make it to the AFC Championship Game? That wager is at +470. What about over/under on wins? The Jets are -122 to win more than 9½ games.

The New York Giants have QB Daniel Jones back under center and running back Saquon Barkley right behind him off a season that saw them make it to the divisional round of the NFC. This year, the Jints are +172 to make it to the playoffs and -104 to win more than 7½ games. Do you think Barkley will score at least 10 touchdowns during the season? You can wager at odds of +170 if you think he will.

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.-midnight; Saturday 8 a.m.-midnight; and Sunday 8 a.m.-11 p.m.