BIG M THE SATURDAY PLACE TO BE
Thursday, March 23, 2023
Even when things haven’t been as rosy as they currently are at The Meadowlands, it’s always been a destination for some of the best – if not the best – harness racing in North America.
These days, the business of betting on the No. 1 harness product in the world is booming at the mile oval, but in addition, fans of Thoroughbred racing, sports betting and different types of entertainment are also getting their fill at The Big M.
First of all, wagering at The Meadowlands has been through the roof since the start of 2023, as there have been 21 Friday and Saturday night programs conducted this year with every one seeing wagering exceed $3 million.
Last weekend, all-source betting totaled $3,250,074 on Friday (March 17) before $3,643,854 was put in play Saturday (March 18), putting the weekend’s total approximately $100,000 short of $7 million.
Yes, action is the name of the game at the track at the north end of the New Jersey Turnpike, and for those Thoroughbred fans who love watching – and wagering – on Kentucky Derby preps, they can do both in The Meadowlands’ expansive simulcast areas.
The next four Saturdays will offer a look at some of the major Derby contenders, and all the races will be offered at The Big M.
The Derby preps are the Louisiana Derby, Jeff Ruby and UAE Derby on March 25; Florida Derby and Arkansas Derby on April 1; Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby and Bluegrass on April 8 before the Lexington on April 15.
What about monster green? In the event you like races that go for big purses, then you’ll go for the Dubai World Cup in a big way, which takes place at Meydan Racecourse this Saturday. The purse is an astonishing $12 million, and unless you’d like to travel the 6,800 miles or so it will take to be there live, then the place for you is The Big M’s simulcast area. Post time for the World Cup is 12:35 p.m.
Doors will open Saturday at 8:30 a.m., as the first of seven races that will be offered from Meydan kickoff at 8:40 a.m.
For those who love college basketball, The Big M is the place for them, too, as this week, the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament rolls on. Shrewd hoops bettors know that the place to watch and wager on “March Mania” is at the FanDuel Sportsbook, the No. 1 facility of its type in North America, which is located inside the Big M grandstand, immediately inside the main entrance.
The teams that advance on Thursday to play in Saturday’s two regional finals (at 5 and 7:30 p.m.) will punch their ticket to the national semifinals. There will also be two regional finals (from Friday’s winners) on Sunday (at 1 and 3:55 p.m.). Those four winners come back on Saturday, April 1 for the semis (at 6 and 8:30 p.m.) before the championship game, which takes place on Monday, April 3 (at 9 p.m.)
Whatever the sport, for the latest odds, go to https://www.fanduel.com/sportsbook-meadowlands
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.
In the event you’re the kind of customer who’d rather go out for a nice meal and a glass of wine, The Meadowlands has something for you, too.
On Saturday (April 1), The Big M will be offering a six-course cocktail pairing event in the Lounge at 6 p.m. Persons who wish to attend must be 21 or older. The cost of $69.95 includes tax and gratuity, a live racing program and a $10 betting voucher. Six courses of delicious food with a cocktail that compliments it perfectly.
Call 201-THE-BIGM for reservations.
“Naturally, we are known first and foremost as a harness track,” said Meadowlands’ Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “But these days, with all of the options out there available to people in the post-COVID era, we feel that with a menu of different things to do here at The Meadowlands, we can steer people who aren’t necessarily hard-core gamblers toward a night out that they can enjoy.”
FILLING THE BOX: “As long as we can continue to get strong support at the entry box by our horsemen,” said Settlemoir, “we can offer large fields, which, in turn, will keep The Big M No. 1 in the nighttime horse racing – be it harness or Thoroughbred – marketplace. Another huge factor in our success has been our driver colony – the best in the world – adhering to the “no tuck” rule here at The Meadowlands. Instead of slow, uncontested fractions, we get non-stop action, which leads to far more contentious racing, which our fan base loves.”
Friday will offer a 14-race card with 132 horses, an average field size of 9.42, while Saturday’s 14 dashes will have 128 horses, for an average field size of 9.14.
“We have been working with the drivers toward more exciting, less predictable racing,” said track President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Gural, “and the increased handle this year shows that it is working. I’m hopeful that they will continue to cooperate in the best interest of our on-track product.”
HASKELL COMING ABOARD: Judge Lou Haskell, 65, will join The Meadowlands team next week as the track continues to improve the product in anticipation of the national television exposure that lies ahead with eight shows on Fox Sports Network outlets that get underway on April 29.
Last year, the shows on FS1 and FS2 were shown to a Thoroughbred-centric audience, and Haskell will be part of the team to continue to oversee a harness product some viewers may not be familiar with can be as exciting as the runners in the hope of creating “crossover” fans.
SCORES GALORE: Last Friday’s notable Big M payouts included the 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 ($3,736), Early 10-cent Hi-5 ($2,064), 20-cent Pick-6 ($1,584) and Late 10-cent Hi-5 ($2,950).
On Saturday, the Survivor returned $5,568 while the 20-cent Pick-5 paid off $1,181.
SAVE THE MONEY FOR WAGERING: As always, free past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card are available by going to playmeadowlands.com.
CHECK OUT THE SHOW: The live “Racing from The Meadowlands” simulcast show takes place every racing night, live from the Sam McKee Memorial Broadcast Set, with news, notes, selections and commentary on the night’s featured races.
Join The Big M’s team of Dave Little and Jessica Otten beginning at 5:45 p.m. immediately after track announcer Ken Warkentin gives out program changes. During the night, Edison Hatter will have interviews from the back paddock as well as providing commentary for FanDuel TV’s coverage of the races.
This weekend, live action will take place on the usual Friday and Saturday night schedule with a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m.
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 Otten (@JessicaOtten1), Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Warkentin (@kenvoiceover) and Hatter (@Edison_1999_).
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.
- 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
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 playmeadowlands.com, go to the “handicapping” tab, then click “race reviews”.
THE RACES KEEP ON COMING: Live racing at The Meadowlands will take place every Friday and Saturday for the next 20 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.