Thursday, March 9, 2023

During a year where much has been made of the big betting numbers being put up at The Meadowlands, last weekend (March 3-4) cleared handle hurdles not reached in at least the last decade at the mile oval.

After wagering was an industry 2023-best $4.5 million on the Friday night card, betting remained robust on Saturday, as $4,062,855 was put in play on the 14-race program. The per race average wager was $322,789 on Friday and $290,203 on Saturday.

Back-to-back $4-million nights? Such records are not available, but has it ever happened since track President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Gural saved the track from possible extinction in 2011? No.

The weekend total of $8.5 million is noteworthy since only twice since the start of 2021 has the $8-million weekend plateau been reached, and those were both Hambletonian weekends.

Betting has now gone past the $3-million mark on all 17 Friday and Saturday night programs during 2023. A year ago, $3-million-plus was wagered 23 times over a total of 85 race cards.

A look at the top six tracks in terms of handle on Friday shows how The Meadowlands stacks up against the best in Thoroughbred racing. The Big M is the most prolific track in terms of betting handle at night, regardless of whether the subject is harness or Thoroughbred racing.

Friday (March 3) handle leaders: 1, Gulfstream, $8,287,706; 2, Aqueduct, $6,413,237; 3, Oaklawn, $6,126,396; 4, Santa Anita, $5,388,598; 5, Meadowlands, $4,519,050; 6, Tampa Bay, $4,209,878.

Competitive racing makes for higher handles, and five of the tracks listed above see their favorites win at a rate between 33 and 35 per cent. The only exception being Tampa Bay (41 per cent).

The two 50-cent Pick-4 bets at The Big M on Friday averaged just over $142,000, while the lone 20-cent Pick-5 took in a 2023-high $100,913. Exacta betting totaled $1.25 million on the night, almost $90,000 per race, while the Trifecta pools averaged just under $70,000.

“The competitive nature of the races contested over the mile track has led to The Meadowlands continuing to do big business this year,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “The loyal support of horseplayers – as well as horsemen who continue to fill the entry box – resulted in an eye-popping $8.5-million weekend.

“With full 10-horse fields, all doubts about The Meadowlands’ ability to create the type of competitive racing that can fascinate Thoroughbred players and sports bettors to cross over and wager on the world leader in Standardbred racing have been removed.”

GIRL POWER: On Saturday (March 4), The Meadowlands celebrated International Women’s Day with a night at the races that included a pair of dashes that featured all female drivers and a simulcast show that saw only those of the fairer sex on set.

“I am thrilled by the response we got to this event,” said Big M Marketing Coordinator and TV Talent Jessica Otten, who hosted the simulcast show with Ashley Mailloux by her side. “We had 19 girls face off in our two International Women’s Day races, with some of our competitors coming all the way from Denmark to participate. This has been a great night.”

Charlene Cushing and Lauren Tritton were the winning drivers in the ladies’ events.

“We had girls come from all over to be here, and every one of them is exceptional,” said Cushing. “I was glad to be a part of it.”

“I’ve been in a million of these races and never won one,” said Tritton. “I am so glad to have been a part of this. It’s such a good thing for women to be represented.”

LOW BETS, BIG GREEN: Some hits that made the highlight reel from last weekend include the Friday night 20-cent Pick-6 ($6,411), 50-cent Pick-4 ($2,529) and 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 ($1,413).

On Saturday, those who cashed in on the Survivor ($2,479) and 10-cent Hi-5 ($1,130) had smiles on their faces.

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.

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

GET YOUR FREE PROGRAMS: Free past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card are available free of charge. To get the no-cost program pages, go to

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 Otten beginning at 5:45 p.m. immediately after track announcer Ken Warkentin gives out the program changes. During the night, Edison Hatter will have interviews from the back paddock.

THE RACES KEEP ON COMING: Live racing at The Meadowlands will take place every Friday and Saturday for the next 22 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.

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 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”.

  1. PATRICK’S BUFFET: Looking for an authentic St. Patrick’s Day meal while betting on the best harness racing anywhere?

Then head to The Meadowlands on Friday, March 17, and Saturday, March 18, for a St. Paddy’s Day buffet in Pink Restaurant.

The buffet will feature mini beef pot pies, corned beef and cabbage, Irish lamb stew, potato pancakes and baked flounder, before homemade whiskey cake and shamrock cookies round out the meal, which is priced at $49.95.

For reservations, call 201-THE-BIGM.

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

GET YOUR ACTION: The teams for the college hoops tournament won’t be known until they are selected on Sunday, March 12, so in the meantime, here are a pair of NBA games for Thursday (March 9) featuring a pair of locals who are playoffs bound.

The Brooklyn Nets travel to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks at 8:10 p.m. The Nets are getting 12 points and are +500 on the money line for those who are seeing a big upset. The under/over is 233.

The New York Knicks are in Sacramento for a 10 p.m. tipoff with the Kings. The Knicks are getting 2½ points and are +120 on the money line in the game that has an under/over of 239.

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.