Thursday, January 12, 2023

At a craps table, when a player rolls a seven, it’s referred to as a natural.

Last weekend (Jan. 6-7) at The Meadowlands, it was the fans of the mile oval who were on a roll, and they made their point that betting is off to a huge start in 2023, as over $7 million was put in play over the course of the 28 races.

It was a natural that Big M management would be elated, especially when one considers how impressively wagering was up over just a year ago.

“The Meadowlands handle far exceeds the handle of any nighttime track in North America, including the Thoroughbreds,” said Big M Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “We have listened to our horseplayers and simulcast partners. The Big M has responded to what the wagering public desires. Check off the boxes. Competitive 10-horse fields, exciting mile-track racing, large pools, low takeouts, low minimums, chances to make scores, generous payouts and no jackpot wagers.

“The Meadowlands offers horseplayers from around the world the most exciting and popular wagering product on the continent every Friday and Saturday night.”

$7-million weekends were rare during 2022, as that barrier was busted only twice, the first on Meadowlands Pace weekend ($7.3 million) and the second during Hambletonian weekend ($10.4 million).

If last week is an indicator of things to come, maybe 2023 will be as exceptional a year as 2021, when the average nightly handle was $3 million.

Friday’s total bet was $3,384,066 while Saturday’s play was $3,673,861, for a grand total of $7,057,927.

On Saturday, the track’s most popular multi-leg puzzles served as the catalysts.

In the first race, $287,355 was wagered, with $67,037 of that on the 20-cent Pick-5; $401,753 was bet on the sixth race as the Early 50-Cent Pick-4 took in $147,691; the 20-cent Pick-6 had a double carryover in the eighth race, creating a total pool of $111,677 and a race total of $332,459 before $513,320 was pushed through the windows on the 10th race, with $304,713 of that contributing to a Late Pick-4, that, including carryover, totaled $362,361.

Those four races alone totaled $1,534,887, good for an average per race of $383,721.

The comparison in weekend wagering from a year ago reveals a startling action uptick.

Last year, $2,630,290 was wagered on the comparable Friday while $2,797,927 was put in play on Saturday for a total of $5,428,217, figures that are anything but shabby.

However, the $7 million bet last weekend represents a 30 per cent increase over 2022. A year ago, the opening weekend average handle per race was $180,940, while this year, that number jumped to $252,068, an increase of better than $72,000.

The total handle this year was $1.6 million more this year as compared to last, and that was with two fewer races.

“There’s always excitement in the building when our players get to bet into our pools that begin with carryovers,” said Settlemoir, “and thanks to low takeouts and carryovers, Saturday was no exception.”

Saturday’s 20-cent Pick-6 began with a carryover of $22,812, which led to $88,164 in “new money” wagered for a total pool of $111,677.

Here comes what was the good part for players.

Since the carryover is not subject to the already low 15 per cent takeout, the total return to bettors was $97,751, a surplus of just under $9,600 (10 per cent). Winning tickets paid $7,565.

A Pick-4 carryover is a rarity, and the punters went deep, wagering $304,713 in “new money” for a total pool of $362,361, which led to a surplus of $11,941 (3 percent). Winning tickets were exchanged for $1,267.

Getting a return of 85 percent on a normal night is good, but getting a return of 110 or 103 per cent? “Anytime you can give the players an opportunity like that, it’s good for them, and, obviously, good for business as well,” said Settlemoir.

CELEBRATE DR. KING: This weekend, come on out to the track and watch some competition that’s only seen once a year, as the civil rights pioneer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is honored.

There will be two races on both Friday and Saturday featuring African-American drivers as they participate in the “Martin Luther King Remembrance Race” and the “Together We Can Be The Dream – MLK-Pro Race”.

In the MLK-Pro races, the African-American pilots will get the chance to take on some of the best drivers in the world, as half of the field will be guided by regular Big M reinsmen.

CHECK OUT THE SHOW: Every live racing night, the “Racing from The Meadowlands” pregame show begins at 5:45 p.m. Join the Big M on-set TV team of Dave Little and Jessica Otten, as they will have news, notes and previews of the upcoming card.

This Friday, check out the return of “In the Sulky”, as Randy Crisler, one of the drivers who will be participating in the MLK races, will be Dave Little’s guest on the Sam McKee Memorial Broadcast Set. ITS begins shortly after track announcer Ken Warkentin provides scratches and changes at 5:45 p.m.

GET ME TO THE TRACK ON TIME: For two weekends, churchgoers can go from pulpit to player, as The Big M will card a pair of Sunday racing programs, on January 22 and 29. The races on Sunday have a special post time of 12:30 p.m.

SAVE THE MONEY FOR WAGERING: As always, free past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card are available by going to

During January on Friday nights, on-track patrons can get a free Meadowlands program, beginning at 5 p.m.

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), Warkentin (@kenvoiceover) and Edison Hatter (@Edison_1999_).

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”.

LOW TAKEOUTS, $100K GUARANTEED: Even when there are no carryovers to be had, The Meadowlands offers plenty of value to the bettor with six wagers that offer low 15 percent take outs, plus two that offer a guaranteed pool of $50,000 nightly.

They are:

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

A WONDERFUL WINE FEAST: On Saturday (Jan. 14), come on out to The Meadowlands and enjoy a sumptuous six-course Latin-inspired wine dinner while watching and wagering on the best harness racing anywhere.

All six courses will be paired with a different wine, one that goes perfectly with the food that accompanies it.

The cost is $79.95 – excluding taxes and gratuity – and includes a $10 betting voucher and a live racing program.

For reservations, call 201-THE-BIGM.

FANDUEL’S FOOTBALL FRENZY: The NFL playoffs begin this weekend, and there is no better place to watch and wager on the action than in the FanDuel SportsBook, the No. 1 facility of its kind in America, which is located inside the grandstand at The Meadowlands.

The first of six Wild Card games has the Seattle Seahawks visiting the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday (Jan. 14) at 4:30 p.m. The 49ers are a 9½-point favorite and the under/over is 42½.

The 8 p.m. game has the Los Angeles Chargers (-2½) traveling to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars in a game that has an under/over of 47½.

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.

On Sunday (Jan. 15) at 1 p.m., the Buffalo Bills (-13½) host the Miami Dolphins in a game that has an under/over of 43½.

At 4:30 p.m., the New York Giants visit the Minnesota Vikings (-3) in a game that has an under/over of 48½.

The night game has the Cincinnati Bengals (-8½) hosting the Baltimore Ravens. Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. and the under/over is 40½.

Finally, on Monday (Jan. 16) night at 8:15 p.m., the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Dallas Cowboys (-2½) in a game that has an under/over of 45½.

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.