Thursday, May 23, 2024

With a national television audience completely to themselves, The Meadowlands put on quite a show Saturday (May 18) night when FOX Sports – along with the TV department at The New York Racing Association – displayed a two-hour broadcast with live racing and features that undoubtedly captivated racing viewers from coast-to-coast.

“What a tremendous start that was to our year on FOX Sports,” said Big M Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “The show had a great pace to it, and it had great talent as well, with NYRA’s Acacia Clement serving as host and [Hambletonian Society President and Chief Executive Officer] John Campbell co-hosting, that duo anchoring the broadcast from NYRA’s headquarters at Aqueduct brought something special to the table. Acacia is great, and, as any harness fan knows, John was one of the greatest drivers in the sport’s history. His insights always hit the bullseye.”

The show provided a highlight-reel’s worth of action, starting with the featured Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, which was won by Jiggy Jog S, who extended her win streak to five in her 2024 debut.

Also in the spotlight was the Nancy Takter-trained superstar 3-year-old colt trotter Karl, who once again crushed his foes in a New Jersey Sire Stakes dash to remain the early favorite for this year’s Hambletonian, which will also be shown on the networks of FOX.

“The 2024 harness racing series on America’s Day at the Races couldn’t have kicked off in finer fashion,” said Eric Donovan, the Sr. Director of TV Broadcast Operations at the NYRA. “The outstanding performances of champions Karl and Jiggy Jog, in addition to many excellent in-show elements, helped make the broadcast a tremendous success.

“As usual, the pre-eminent on-track duo of Jessica Otten and Gabe Prewitt were spot-on with their commentary, analysis and interviews. I’d like to thank the whole team, led by producer Bobby Klatt, for a great start to the season.”

While there will be Thoroughbred racing shown on some of the FOX Meadowlands’ shows to come, Donovan does like it when things are narrowed down. “Focusing on one track, we feel like we were able to keep the viewers’ interest piqued by concentrating on all the great stories that were in play at The Meadowlands Saturday night,” he said.

Here is the schedule for the remaining eight Big M broadcasts with the marquee event that will be shown. Where not listed, specific networks – FOX, FS1 or FS2 – will be determined:

  • July 6: Graduate finals/Meadowlands Pace eliminations, 8-11 p.m. (FS2)
  • July 13: Meadowlands Pace final, 8-11 p.m. (TBD)
  • Aug. 3: Hambletonian, 1-7 p.m. (TBD)
  • Oct. 18: Breeders Crown eliminations, 1-6 p.m. (TBD)
  • Oct. 19: Breeders Crown eliminations, 8-11 p.m. (TBD)
  • Oct. 25: Breeders Crown finals, 8-11 p.m. (TBD)
  • Oct. 26: Breeders Crown finals, 8-11 p.m. (TBD)
  • Nov. 30: Fall Final Four, 8-11 p.m. (TBD)

SATURDAY NIGHT SPECIALS: After totaling seven winners combined on Saturday, March 11, the McCarthy brothers were at it last week, rolling another seven on the program. On Saturday (March 18), it was Todd taking four and Andy three. One week earlier, it was the other way around.

Only minutes after Legendary Hanover established an industry-fastest 2024-mile time of 1:48.3 at Woodbine Mohawk Park, the remarkable Oakwood Ardan IR ($2.40 to win as the 1-5 favorite), a 5-year-old gelded son of Sweet Lou-Trend Setter, won the TrackMaster Series final on Saturday (for horses with a rating of 89.5 or less) in 1:48 to set a new North American season’s best for trainer Robert Cleary, his seventh win in eight starts since his arrival from Great Britain last fall.

Just six races later, Maximus Miki equaled the 1:48 clocking after racing parked for the final half-mile in an iron-tough $46,500 Open for pacers. ‘Miki’, a 5-year-old gelded son of Always B Miki-Beach Gal who is trained by Tom Cancelliere, returned $11.80 as the 9-2 fourth choice.

Both 1:48 performers were driven by Andy McCarthy.

(On Sunday, May 19, Ruthless Hanover became the fastest horse in North America in 2024 with a 1:47.1 clocking at Harrah’s Philadelphia).

BIG PAYOFFS: There were a pair of big returns on the Saturday card, as the 20-cent Pick-6 paid $12,538, while the Early 20-cent Pick-5 came back $8,414.

While sitting alongside host Dave Little Saturday night on-set, DRF Harness Editor Derick Giwner helped his following to a big score in the Early 50-cent Pick-4. Giwner’s TV ticket came in and paid $156.25, but Giwner had the winning combination five times for a total score of $781.25.

Not to be outdone, Little had the Late Pick-4 a total of 24 times, so his $19 payoff resulted in his followers cashing in for $432.

CLOSE FINISH: Ian McIntosh took down the first prize of $2,500 in The Big M’s free handicapping contest on Saturday that offered $10,000 in total prizes.

McIntosh finished with a bankroll of $147.80, just nosing out second-place finisher Kaia Savage, who totaled $145.40 to walk away with $2,000.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO WIN A CAR? When you come to The Meadowlands, you can make a score at the windows. But now, you could also walk away with a brand new 2024 Toyota Camry LE AWD by participating in the track’s HorsePlay Giveaway, which takes place every race day until Friday, Aug. 2.

The HorsePlay Giveaway is sponsored by Purple Haze Stables.

For complete information, and to enter this extremely popular promotion, go here.

SURVIVAL MODE: The Meadowlands Summer Survival Challenge, powered by 123Racing, kicked off on Friday, May 3. Cash prizes and Meadowlands swag are up for grabs in this free online contest.

The game covers the Meadowlands Championship Meet and will conclude on Saturday, Aug. 3.

In the early going, Boonners Stable leads the way in the Challenge with $222.90, followed by ramsingh ($222.60) and Ts Terrors ($222.10).

As for most winners, there is a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard, as Ryebread64, yankee22 and Boonners Stable have 10 apiece.

The winner is determined by the highest total bankroll at the end of the Challenge based on a $2 “across-the-board” wager (win, place and show) on selections for three designated races on each program.

However, to continue in the game, entrants have to “survive” by finishing in-the-money (first through third) with at least one of their selections each day. Failing to do so or not making selections knocks the player out of the game. To aid in the player’s survival, a “lucky horseshoe” is given. The lucky horseshoe is a “free pass” given to all Challenge participants that allows the player to survive if he does not make selections for a race card or if all three of his selections fail to hit the board.

What the players are shooting for:

The grand prize is $750 plus a Breeders Crown Night at the Races package

The second-place prize is $500 plus Meadowlands swag

The third-place prize is $250 plus Meadowlands swag

Most Winners selected: $200 plus Meadowlands swag

Highest monthly bankroll (May, June, July): $100 plus Meadowlands swag

The deadline for selections each day is 30 minutes before the 6:20 p.m. post time for the first race; 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3. After 30 minutes to post, all selections are final.

For further information, go here.

HANDICAPPING FOR CHARITY: Ten local New Jersey charitable organizations have been selected to compete in the Meadowlands Charity Handicapping Contest on Saturday (May 25).

The contest offers a $15,000 total donation/prize pool, with every charity receiving a donation. Prizes will be awarded as follows: 1st Place: $5,000, 2nd Place: $3,000, 3rd Place: $2,000, 4th Place: $1,500, 5th Place: $1,000, 6th-10th: $500.

For further information, go here.

TALKING HEADS TO TANGLE: The Meadowlands’ fifth annual Sportscasters Charity Derby takes place on Friday, May 31, and features two harness races to benefit charitable organizations selected by area sportscasters.

Each sportscaster will be teamed up with a Meadowlands driver in a jog cart and will compete against other sportscasters in a field of four in a one-mile race.

Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment will donate $5,000 to each of the two winning sportscasters’ selected charities, and, in addition, will also make a $1,000 donation to each charity selected by each sportscaster.

There are three new faces in the 2024 edition of The Derby: Chris Lopresti, Chelsea Sherrod and Perry Sook.

CHARITY RACE 1 (After race three, with affiliation and charity):

  • 1. Chris Lopresti (WFAN-660 AM, CBS Sports Radio, SiriusXM); St. Barnabus Hospital Health System
  • 2. Don LaGreca (ESPN-NY 98.7 FM); Ronald McDonald House
  • 3. Chelsea Sherrod (SNY); Grow Our Game
  • 4. Mark Cannizzaro (NY Post); Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

 CHARITY RACE 2 (After race five)

  • 1. Maria Marino (Action Network); American Cancer Society/Making Strides Against Breast Cancer
  • 2. Marc Malusis (PIX11, SNY, WFAN); Make-A-Wish Foundation
  • 3. Perry Sook (PIX11); St. Barnabus Hospital Health System
  • 4. Keith Irizarry (MLB Network); Cavan McGovern Family Research Fund

PICK A WIENER: The sixth annual running of the Meadowlands Racetrack Wiener Dog Derby takes place on Saturday, June 1.

This event is free to attend.

Approximate Wiener Dog Derby post times:

  • Race 1: 6 p.m.
  • Race 2: 6:15 p.m.
  • Race 3: 6:32 p.m.
  • Race 4: 6:52 p.m.
  • Race 5: 7:30 p.m.
  • Race 6: 8 p.m.
  • Race 7: 8:25 p.m.
  • Race 8: 8:50 p.m.
  • Race 9: 9:15 p.m.
  • Race 10: 9:40 p.m.
  • Final: 10 p.m.

There is $1,500 in total prize money up for grabs, with qualifier winners earning a $100 betting voucher. The winner of the final gets a $500 betting voucher.

  • There will be 10 wiener dogs in the final
  • Qualifiers will be run in-between the live harness races. The final will be held once all qualifiers are complete
  • Only dogs permitted in the track and in each race are dachshunds. All canines must be currently licensed and up to date on all shots, including rabies vaccination
  • Only canines registered to participate are allowed at the track. No canine “viewers”
  • For more information, email Rachel Ryan at

FREE PROGRAMS EVERY NIGHT: Past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card are available free of charge. All one has to do is go to to access the information.

“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).

RALLIS’ RACE REVIEWS: For some help with your handicapping, check out the race reviews of The Big M’s morning-line odds maker and program analyst John Rallis.

Rallis’ reviews are available 48 hours before a given card, and all one has to do to access the information is go to, go to the “handicapping” tab, then click “race reviews.”

THE GREAT EIGHT: The Meadowlands’ appetizing betting menu got a little tastier several weeks ago with the addition of a second 20-cent Pick-5, to join the pair of 50-cent Pick-4s already on the bill of fare.

There are eight wagers nightly that offer a chance for players to make a big hit while betting into big pools that offer a low takeout of just 15 percent. Here is the lineup:

  • Races 1-5: Early 20-cent Pick-5
  • Races 2-8: 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 (mandatory payout nightly)
  • Races 4-9: 20-cent Pick-6
  • Races 6-9: Early 50-cent Pick-4 ($50,000 guaranteed pool)
  • Race 7: 10-cent Pentafecta (Hi-5)
  • Races 8-12: Late 20-cent Pick-5
  • Races 10-13: Late 50-cent Pick-4 ($50,000 guaranteed pool)
  • Race 11: 10-cent Pentafecta (Hi-5)

THE SKED: Live racing takes place every Friday and Saturday at The Meadowlands with a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m.

The Big M’s live “Racing from The Meadowlands” pregame show begins every live racing night at 5:45 p.m.

PULSE-POUNDING PLAYOFFS: The FanDuel Sportsbook, the No. 1 facility of its type in North America, is something Meadowlands fans are well aware of. After all, it’s located inside the grandstand at the mile oval.

With numerous huge-screen TVs, plenty of comfortable seating and food and drink options, serious sports bettors know that the book at the track is the place to be.

In the National Hockey League Eastern Conference finals, the Florida Panthers have a 1-0 lead over the New York Rangers in the best-of-seven series. Game 2 takes place Friday night at Madison Square Garden at 8:10 p.m. and the Panthers are a slight -115 favorite (+225 minus a puck-and-a-half) in the game that has an under/over of 5½ goals.

In the National Basketball Association Eastern Conference finals, the Boston Celtics, currently the -180 favorite to win the NBA championship, have a 1-0 lead over the Indiana Pacers. Game 2 takes place Thursday night at 8:05 p.m. in Boston and the Celtics are a 9-point favorite (-390 on the money line) in the game that has an under/over of 224½ points.

Whatever the sport, for the latest odds, go here.

The FanDuel Sportsbook is open Monday-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.; Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m.-11 p.m.