Thursday, November 17, 2022

The prelude to the final major race card on the 2022 harness racing calendar takes place this Saturday (Nov. 19) night at The Meadowlands, when eliminations take place for the “Fall Final Four” for 2-year-olds, with finals that will go for purses totaling $1.75 million on Nov. 26.

Three of the races for freshmen will have eliminations Saturday, while one will not, they are:

  • Valley Victory (male trot) – Garden State winner Celebrity Bambino will look to stay sharp and be one of the top eight finishers in this 10-horse field to move on to the final. Peter Haughton winner Kilmister and Kindergarten champion Volume Eight received byes to next week’s dash.
  • Governor’s Cup (male pace) – Ammo, the 50-1 upset Breeders Crown winner, and Confederate, who was nailed by Ammo as the 3-5 favorite, top their respective elims where the top five from each will advance to the final.
  • Three Diamonds (female pace) – Matron winner Vivians Dream will attempt to up her seasonal stats to eight wins from just 11 starts in this single elimination where the top eight will advance. Kentuckiana winner Earthwindfire and Bellisima Hanover, the Kindergarten champ, received byes and will take the week off.
  • Goldsmith Maid (female trot) – With 10 horses having declared, all will participate in next week’s final with no eliminations needed. All eyes that night will be on the Ake Svanstedt trained and driven Bond, who is six-for-eight this year after taking the Kindergarten Series final from post 10 as the 4-5 public choice on Nov. 12.

But those races merely mark half the action – the other half is “TVG Finals Night” – on what will be another huge card at The Big M on the 26th.

In fact, the sport’s biggest star will be on hand a week from Saturday when Bulldog Hanover, who has already locked up Horse of the Year honors, will look to go out a winner in the $350,000 (est.) TVG 3&up Pace. A winner of 13-of-15 starts this year, Bulldog is the fastest horse in the history of the sport by virtue of his 1:45.4 clocking at The Big M in the William Haughton on July 16.

Another headliner will be on the track that night when the great Atlanta participates in her final career race. One of the most consistent superstars the sport has ever seen, the 7-year-old daughter of Chapter Seven-Hemi Blue Chip has won at least four but no more than eight races in any of her six years on the track. Her gaudy lifetime numbers show 37 wins from 77 starts and earnings of $3.5 million. (For those who’d like a sneak peak, Atlanta will be in the second Big M qualifier this Saturday. They begin at 4 p.m.)

Also on tap are the $350,000 (est.) TVG 3&up Trot, $175,000 (est.) TVG 3&up F&M Pace and $175,000 (est.) TVG 3&up F&M Trot. Estimated purses for all eight stakes events that night total $2.8 million.

TOP 10 TILT: Two trotting titans will face off Saturday as Breeders Crown champions Bella Bellini – the current second-ranked horse in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown weekly Top 10 poll – and Ecurie D DK – currently No. 10 – will go at it in the overnight co-feature, the $34,500 Preferred Trot, while Tattoo Artist and This Is The Plan, who combined have earned over $4.6 million, will tighten up for the TVG Pace in the $34,500 Preferred Pace.

YAY FOR YANNICK: It’s been another great year for driver Yannick Gingras. Currently third in the national drivers’ money-earnings race with $11.5 million, the 43-year-old Hall of Fame reinsman has been on a roll during November at The Big M, with 10 wins from just 24 starts, good for a win percentage of 42. Gingras began 2022 at The Meadowlands with an impressive “hitting streak”, winning at least one race on each of the first 22 race cards of the year.

R.I.P. DAVE BROWER: Family and friends of the late Dave Brower were on hand at The Meadowlands Saturday (Nov. 12) night to give the longtime lead TV personality, morning-line odds maker and program analyst a final sendoff with a huge throng that gathered in the winner’s circle before the racing program began.

“I’d like to thank Jeff Gural, Jason Settlemoir and everybody at The Meadowlands for what they did for Dave tonight,” said Brower’s sister, Laura, in the winner’s circle before spreading her brother’s ashes on the track. “As a family, we are close, but tonight made me realize that Dave had a family at The Meadowlands as well.”

GET YOUR GIFT CARDS: On Saturday (Nov. 19), get a head start on your holiday shopping by entering The Big M’s Black Friday Gift Card Sweepstakes. Winning gift cards will be valued at $50, $100, $250 and $500.

BRING JOY, BRING A TOY: Bring a new, unwrapped toy to the track to give a child in need some happiness this holiday season, and if you do, you’ll get a $5 betting voucher.

The Big M’s “Toys for Tots” drive begins Nov. 22 and runs through Dec. 9. On the 9th, former New York Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa will be on hand from 7-9 p.m. helping the U.S. Marine Corps collect gifts before he personally delivers them to Harlem Grown – an organization whose mission it is to inspire youth to lead healthy and ambitious lives. Justin Waters from PIX-11 will serve as master of ceremonies.

BIG BETTING BONANZA: Last Saturday’s Kindergarten Series finals card brought out the heavy hitters as a total of $3,085,385 was wagered on the 14-race program.

THE SCHEDULE: Racing at The Big M will be conducted on a Friday-Saturday basis through the end of the year, with a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m. There are several exceptions on the schedule, as there will be no live racing on Dec. 23-24, and there is one Thursday night card on the sked, which will take place Dec. 1.

The pregame show gets underway on race nights at 5:45 p.m. with news and notes and a look at that night’s featured races with the on-set duo of Dave Little and Jessica Otten.

FREE PROGRAMS: Free past performances for every race for every Meadowlands program are available 48 hours before a given card. To access the no-cost official program pages, go to

LOW TAKEOUT, BIG POOLS: The Meadowlands offers plenty of value to the bettor with six wagers nightly that offer low 15 percent take outs, plus two that offer a guaranteed pool of $50,000. They are:

  • Race 1: 20-cent Pick-5
  • Race 3: 20-cent Survivor Pick-7
  • Race 6: 50-cent Pick-4 ($50,000 guaranteed pool)
  • Race 8: 20-cent Pick-6
  • Race 10: 50-cent Pick-4 ($50,000 guaranteed pool)
  • Race 14: 10-cent Hi-5

GET ON TWITTER: 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_).

WORLD CUP WAGERING: The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off on Sunday (Nov. 20) and all soccer fans can get their action in the FanDuel Sportsbook, which is located inside the grandstand at The Meadowlands.

The tournament runs through Dec. 18 when the championship match takes place.

There will be special hours when the book will be available for fans to get their action. From Nov. 21-26, 7:30 a.m.-1 a.m.; Nov. 27, 7:30 a.m.-midnight; Nov. 28, 7:30 a.m.-1 a.m.; Nov. 29-Dec. 2, 9:30 a.m.-1 a.m.; Dec. 5, 6 and 9, 9:30 a.m.-1 a.m.

The United States plays its first match on Monday (Nov. 21) against Wales at 2 p.m.

FOOTBALL, NOT FÚTBOL: Fans of American football will have plenty of opportunity to get their action in “The Book”.

On Thursday (Nov. 17), the Packers host the Tennessee Titans in a game that kicks off at 8:15 p.m. Green Bay is a 3½-point favorite in the game that has an under/over of 41½.

Both local teams will be in action on Sunday (Nov. 20).

The New York Jets head to New England for a game that begins at 1 p.m. The Patriots are a 3½-point favorite in the game that has an under/over of 38½.

The New York Giants will host Detroit in a 1 p.m. start. The Giants are a 3-point favorite to take down the Lions in the game that has an under/over of 44½.