Thursday, February 23, 2023

If The Meadowlands website – – doesn’t provide absolutely everything a handicapper needs to pick winners at the mile oval, then it comes mighty close.

Players who go to the website can access huge amounts of pertinent information, beginning with the No. 1 thing a player needs: the program. Every race of every race card is available on the site. But many people are likely aware of that.

What they may not be aware of are some of the other things that are available.

How about comments and race reviews? These are compiled by Edison Hatter, the track’s morning-line odds maker. In the comments/race reviews, Hatter offers his insights on every horse on the program, as well as offering selections on every race. It’s a good idea to follow along, Hatter picked 10 winners on a single card late during 2022.

What many handicappers like best is checking out replays. The regular Meadowlands bettor is a shrewd player. Secrets are hard to come by at the mile oval, but if one regularly checks out race replays, they can find things, such as when horses go bad trips or when they are overloaded with pace but have no place to race in deep stretch and turn that information into a big score.

Entries, results, wagering formats, post position statistics. All of that is available by visiting the site. Not to mention the numbers that pertain to the drivers and trainers at the sport’s top venue in the world.

The Meadowlands historically boasts the toughest driver colony in the sport with pilots from all over the globe making up the roster.

At the top of The Big M heap (from a gambler’s perspective) during 2022 was none other than Dexter Dunn, the four-time defending Dan Patch Driver of the Year.

There are many numbers about the 33-year-old New Zealand native that impress, but none that impress more than his ROI (return on investment). A year ago, Dunn guided 117 winners from 613 drives at The Meadowlands. Incredibly, a win bet on every one of his starters resulted in a profit of 6 percent.

In terms of the Universal Driver Ratings System – a “batting average” based on on-the-board finishes – only two Big M pilots had UDRS that exceeded .300.

Dunn had a UDRS of .308, which was second best to Yannick Gingras, who had a UDRS of .326 while winning 136 races – tops at the track – during the year.

This year, the top nine in the UDRS standings at The Meadowlands reads like a who’s who of the top drivers in the game. Those with at least 50 drives are: Gingras, .343; Scott Zeron, .284; Dunn, .281; Dave Miller, .259; Jordan Stratton, .235; Joe Bongiorno, .232; Jason Bartlett, .229; Andy McCarthy, .223; George Brennan, .211.

These are the win percentage leaders: Gingras, 22 percent; Bongiorno, 16; Stratton, 16; Zeron, 15; Bartlett, 14; Dunn, 14; Andy McCarthy, 13, Dave Miller, 12, Brennan, 11.

In terms of ROI, two drivers stand head and shoulders in front of the crowd, as Zeron’s fans have collected a mind-boggling 37 percent profit with Brennan’s cashing almost as impressively, at 36 percent.

BIG M TROPHY TAKERS: It was a good night for The Meadowlands at the 2022 Dan Patch Awards Banquet at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, FL, on Sunday (Feb. 19) as Edison Hatter walked away with the Lew Barasch Breakthrough Award while longtime track announcer Ken Warkentin was honored with his election to the Communicators Hall of Fame at the Harness Racing Museum.

Warkentin will be formally inducted in July in ceremonies that will take place in Goshen, NY.

“All of us at The Meadowlands are so proud of Edison and Ken,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “And, of course, we are pleased that the United States Harness Writers saw fit to put our dear friend, the late Dave Brower, on the ballot for the Communicators Hall of Fame. Were he to get the needed support – and it’s hard to imagine he won’t – he’ll be inducted in the summer of 2024.”

The evening ended with the coronation of Bulldog Hanover as Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Was Bulldog special? You make the call. In the history of the Horse of the Year balloting, which began in 1947, he is the only horse ever to win in a unanimous vote.

There were 136 ballots cast, and Bulldog was named on every one.

Among his many accomplishments, for many, the one that stands out for the Bulldog is his 1:45.4 mile at The Meadowlands in July, the fastest mile in the history of the sport.

“On behalf of The Meadowlands, we want to send a resounding thank you to Bulldog Hanover,” said Settlemoir. “We watched him make history all summer long at The Big M, setting the world record for the fastest mile ever in front of a national television audience. The spine-tingling moment the unprecedented 1:45.4 flashed on The Meadowlands timer will never be forgotten.”

WILD WAGERING: During a season that’s seen remarkable handle numbers night in and night out, last weekends were the best of 2023.

On Friday (Feb. 17), a total of $3,400,130 was put in play, the most money wagered on any Friday this year.

Twenty-four hours later, action was again vigorous, as $3,802,550 was wagered on Saturday’s (Feb. 18) program, giving The Big M a new 2023 high.

The two-day total of $7.2 million marked the second time this year that weekend (specifically Friday-Saturday, as there have been two Sunday cards) handle exceeded the $7-million plateau.

Also, the streak of $3-million handles is alive and well, as for the 13th time in as many attempts this year, Friday and Saturday night wagering went past the $3-million mark.

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 Jessica Otten (@JessicaOtten1), Dave Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Ken Warkentin (@kenvoiceover) and Edison Hatter (@Edison_1999_).

THE RACES KEEP ON COMING: Live racing at The Meadowlands will take place every Friday and Saturday for the next 24 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.

DUNN’S IN THE SULKY: On the Saturday (Feb. 25) pregame show, Dave Little’s “In the Sulky” guest will be Dexter Dunn.

They’ll talk Bulldog Hanover, Bella Bellini and Driver of the Year immediately after track announcer Ken Warkentin gives the program changes. The pregame show kicks off at 5:45 p.m.

WINTER CHILI COOK-OFF: The winter edition of one of the more popular promotions at The Meadowlands takes place on Saturday (Feb. 25), when cooks – and tasters – can take part in the “Chili and Salsa Cook-Off”.

Over $3,000 in prizes will be up for grabs, and for those of you who want to enter, or just sample a bunch of delicious chili and salsa, go to

GALLERY LAUNCH PARTY: On Wednesday, March 1, come out to The Meadowlands and check out the launch of the newly redesigned Gallery from 6-9 p.m.

The Gallery will have sports action on 16 LED TVs, not to mention a jumbo 220-inch screen.

Are you planning to arrive early? The first 100 guests receive a mini-basketball set.

The event is free but guests must RSVP prior to enter.

For complete information, go to

MARCH MANIA DINING: The NCAA men’s college basketball tournament is just around the corner, and discerning hoops fans know that the place to watch and wager on the action is in the FanDuel Sportsbook.

The tournament takes place from March 14-April 3.

The No. 1 facility of its type in North America, “The Book” is located inside the grandstand at The Meadowlands.

But basketball junkies aren’t limited to watching the games in the book.

Other options include reservations for the Grandstand Lounge on March 16, 17, 18 and 19, with a single bar seat available for $50; a two-top table for $100; and a four-top table for $200. The pricing acts as credit toward food purchases.

For complete details, go to

BUT WHAT ABOUT NOW? On Thursday (Feb. 23), one of the more intriguing matchups on the NBA schedule has the Memphis Grizzlies traveling to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers at 7:30 p.m.

The Sixers are a 3½-point favorite who are -164 on the money line. The game has an under/over of 230½ points.

How about some player props? Memphis’ Ja Morant is -106 to score over 26½ points and -120 to score less, while Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid’s number is 32½. He’s -113 to go under and -113 to go over.

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.