Thursday, April 20, 2023

When a ferocious thunderstorm descended on The Meadowlands Saturday (April 15) night just after the first race, things looked gloomy for the track’s streak of consecutive nights where handle exceeded $3 million.

After all, patrons would have to wait 35 minutes for action to resume on a night when The Big M was far from the only option bettors had. In addition, only five of the 14 races on the program sported full 10-horse fields, while there were four that had eight betting interests or less.

Regardless, the Big M faithful pushed $3.1 million through the windows, keeping the track’s percentage of $3-million handles on Fridays and Saturdays during 2023 at 100, with 29 successes in as many tries.

At this point a year ago, the $3-million barrier had been busted but six times.

“Our fans and our horsemen have come through for us time and again during what’s been a special year for us at The Meadowlands,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “Our crew got the track back in shape to resume the races in as timely a fashion as possible, and it’s their efforts that permitted us to get back on track after what was an ugly storm.”

Much has been made about how big business has been at The Big M this year, and while 14 races – many with full 10-horse fields – have been the biggest reason why, other factors also play a part.

Large payouts always get people interested in what’s going on at the track, and interest was sky-high on March 25 when the 20-cent Pick-6 returned $55,165 after a carryover had motivated players to create a total pool of almost $64,000.

Three weeks later, that seasonal-best payout was bettered when the 20-cent Pick-5 came back $63,836 on April 15.

“We think that to have a successful racetrack,” said Settlemoir, “the fair treatment of the horseplayer must be part of the business equation.”

Part of the equation has been dropping takeouts on wagers. If you don’t give the player a fair shake, he or she will find another track (or form of gaming) that will.

The 50-cent Pick-4, 20-cent Pick-5, 20-cent Pick-6, 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 and 10-cent Pentafecta (or, Hi-5, if you prefer) have seen their “rake” drop significantly through the years, and, not surprisingly, are big-time popular with Big M fans.

Those wagers at one time had 25 percent takeouts, but now, after a 40 percent drop, have a takeout of just 15 percent. These bets drive the machine at The Big M, especially the Pick-4, which is offered two times on every card, and last weekend, took in a total of over $400,000 in action. The Pick-4 races – the sixth and 10th – routinely see $300,000 in total action because of the popular puzzles.

These are the seven opportunities 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 14: Late 10-cent Hi-5

In addition, the 10-cent Superfecta and $1 Pick-3 have seen their takeouts lowered 20 percent, from 25 down to 20 percent.

The Meadowlands sports a betting menu with tasty wagers with takeouts that are among the lowest for these plays in North America.

Low takeouts? Great. Low minimums? Also great.

The low minimums were put in place to keep players in action longer. The more they get to play, the better the chance the bettor hits something.

Let’s say a bettor plays a 20-cent Pick-5 ticket “1,2/1,2/1,2/1,2/1,2,3”. They’ve made 48 bets on the P5 but have spent just $9.60. If they called out the same ticket at a track with a P5 that had a $1 minimum, they’d have to fork over $48.

Another move The Big M made several years ago with the bettor in mind, was to drop jackpot wagers.

“We concluded that having a great wagering opportunity on mandatory payout nights was not worth continuing the jackpot wager,” said Settlemoir of the scenario where the pool was paid to the winner only if he or she held the lone ticket with the correct selections. “The reason being that the actual takeout was so egregious, we felt compelled to act to protect the horseplayers from a lottery-type takeout.

“The Jackpot Hi-5 was replaced by a non-jackpot Hi-5 that is offered with a real 15 percent takeout. Since then, a growing number of tracks have followed our lead. Based on our first-quarter handle – being up over $26 million as compared to last year – we can easily assume that the horseplayers’ response to our initiatives – such as free programs on our website – have been extremely well received.”

THE RACES KEEP ON COMING: Live racing at The Meadowlands will take place every Friday and Saturday for the next 16 consecutive weeks. Post time is 6:20 p.m., except for the last day of the meeting, Hambletonian Day, Saturday, Aug. 5, when the first race heads to the gate at noon.

DON’T PAY: Free past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card are available by going to

TWEET US: 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 The Big M team of Jessica Otten (@JessicaOtten1), Dave Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Ken Warkentin (@kenvoiceover) and Edison Hatter (@Edison_1999_).

HATTER’S RACE REVIEWS: Race reviews and selections by The Meadowlands’ morning-line odds maker, program analyst 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”.

CHECK OUT THE SHOW … THEN CASH: The “Racing from The Meadowlands” simulcast show – broadcast live from the Sam McKee Memorial Broadcast Set – takes place every racing night.

The presentation, which gets underway at 5:45 p.m., features the Big M TV team of Little and Otten, who have news and notes, features, a look at the night’s featured races and selections.

Speaking of selections, Little and Otten did some damage last weekend, much to the delight of their followers.

Little tabbed 13 winners – seven on Friday (April 14) and six more on Saturday (April 15). In addition, he gave out the Early Pick-4 on Friday as well as the Late Double on Saturday.

Otten gave out both Pick-4s on Friday – giving her fans a profit on the two bets of almost $440 – while picking six on top.

KENTUCKY DERBY DAY: “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” is the Kentucky Derby, so come on out to The Meadowlands on Saturday, May 6, and catch the “Run for the Roses” in one of the best simulcast facilities you’ll find anywhere.

The race is slated to go to the gate at 6:57 p.m.

Want to relax and have a nice meal? Well, The Big M can take care of that, too.

There are a handful of ways to go, including a $100 option, which is a table for four with the cost going towards food in the Café.

There will also be availability in the Lounge, which has $50 seats in the bar, as well as 2- and 4-person tables at $50 per person.

For some fine dining, check out the big Derby Day buffet in Pink Restaurant for $64.95.

For complete information, or to buy tickets, go to

There is also a Derby Day Hat Contest, where those with chapeaus that make an impression will vie for $1,000 in total prize money.

To be eligible, one must register between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. in the Clubhouse Lobby. Judging will take place in the winner’s circle at approximately 5 p.m., with first place worth $500.

WIN SOME WIN BETS: How about making a $100 win bet without reaching into your pocket?

You can do that on Derby Day at The Big M. What can you win? There will be a total of 20 wagers given out, all worth $100. Ten will be drawn at 6 p.m. and those bets are to be made on the Kentucky Derby. The other 10 will be drawn at 7 p.m. and those wagers are to be made on the live harness card.

Fans must complete a registration form online to be eligible, must be 18 or older to win and can only win one time per night.

To register, go to

BEER FEST: Also part of the Derby Day festivities is The Big M’s seventh annual Beer Festival.

The event, which is rain or shine, will offer a VIP package for $65 – where samplers can taste from 4 p.m.-9 p.m. – as well as general admission for $45 ($50 at the door), where sampling will take place from 5 p.m.-9 p.m.

Over 60 breweries will be participating, with music provided by DJ ALX.

For more information, and to purchase tickets, go to


This Saturday (April 22), you can turn the clocks back a half-century or so and catch a tribute show to one of the greatest comedy teams ever.

The “Martin and Lewis Tribute Show” showcases the talents of Tom Stevens and Tony Lewis, who capture the essence of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in not only looks, but mannerisms, music and laughter, as well as the love the pair had for one another.

Show doors open at 6:30 p.m. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and tickets are only $40.

For more information, go to

For tickets, go to–jerry-lewis-tribute-show/

CLEAN UP THE YARD: It’s that time of year to get your lawn and garden in shape, and The Meadowlands can provide the tool to get the job done.

On Saturday, April 29, two winners of a Snapper XD blower with an 82V max lithium battery will be announced.

You must be present in order to win and entries will be accepted online only.

To fill out an entry form, go to

CAN YOU SURVIVE? On Friday, May 5, The Big M’s “Summer Meet Survival Challenge”, powered by 123Racing, will begin with cash prizes and seats in the World Harness Handicapping Championship up for grabs in the competition that is online only but free to participate in.

The game covers the entirety of the “Championship Meet”, which concludes on Saturday, August 5.

For complete details, and to enter, go to

FANDUEL FABULOUS: It’s a frantic time for sports bettors who love the local teams as the New York Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, Brooklyn Nets and New Jersey Devils are all in the playoffs, and bettors can follow along with their favorite team – while making a wager or two – inside the grandstand at The Meadowlands in the FanDuel Sportsbook, the No. 1 facility of its type in North America.

Here are some matchups involving local teams on Thursday (April 20):

The Philadelphia 76ers travel to Brooklyn to take on the Nets in the NBA Playoffs in a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. Brooklyn is a 4½-point underdog and are +160 on the money line in the game that has an under/over of 210.

In the NHL postseason, the Rangers travel to New Jersey for a 7:40 p.m. faceoff with the Devils. The Devils are -134 on the money line and +184 to win by 2 goals or more. The game has an under/over of 5½ goals.

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