Thursday, August 4, 2022

– There’s a reason Christmas only comes once a year. The same can be said for Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands, which is Saturday (Aug. 6).

It’s so special, you couldn’t do anything this big more than once every 12 months.

The drama will begin with a special early post time of noon when the field for the first of 16 action-packed races heads to the gate. There are 10 stakes events sprinkled throughout the day, headlined by the $1 million Hambletonian and $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks.

A big crowd is likely, with temperatures expected to be in the mid-80s.

“There is nothing in harness racing like Hambletonian Day,” said Meadowlands’ Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “And I recommend to anyone that can to be with us live on track. The greatest stars from all over the world. The top horses in every division. The excitement. The food. The live music. A drawing for a grand prize of $10,000 for our Masterminds contest. This card will produce our biggest handle – and very likely, our biggest attendance – of 2022, so for horseplayers, they get to play in what will be our biggest pools of the year. The Big M is the place to be this Saturday.”

WHERE TO WATCH: For those who cannot make it out to the track, The Hambletonian will be shown live on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) as part of the New York Racing Association’s presentation of “Saratoga Live”. Post time for The Hambo is 6:35 p.m. The on-track pregame show with Dave Brower and Dave Little kicks off at 11:30 a.m. The in-house show will be live streamed all day on The Big M’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

The Racetrack Television Network (rtn.tv) will offer the Meadowlands’ in-house presentation free from playmeadowlands.com on Hambo Day.

The Television Games Network (tvg.com) will be onsite with commentary and showing the races live. TVG is one of the most popular Advance-Deposit Wagering (ADW) sites in the world.

The Hambletonian Oaks tops the undercard and has a post time of 4:48 p.m. That event will be shown as part of Fox Sports 2’s (FS2) “America’s Day at the Races” show, highlighting the thoroughbred action from Saratoga on Whitney Day, which showcases one of the best cards of the season in that sport. Post time for the Whitney is 5:48 p.m. Meadowlands’ races will be featured between 12:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. on the telecast.

The CBS Sports Network (CBSSN) is doing a Hambletonian retrospective and 2022 recap on Sunday, Aug. 21, from 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

The Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA-TV) will have race day coverage from 3 p.m.-7:15 p.m. but will take a break for 45 minutes, starting at 5:15 p.m., during which time they will show the Big M simulcast feed.

DEEP POOLS: Management at The Big M is upping its game for the big day, increasing its guaranteed pools from the usual $100,000 to $350,000. The first race 20-cent Pick-6 is guaranteed at $50,000; the third race 20-cent Pick-5 has a $75,000 promise; the Early 50-cent Pick-4 that starts with race eight is guaranteed to be $100,000, while the Late Pick-4 – which begins in the 12th race – is guaranteed at $125,000.

The Late Pick-4 is one the fans are sure to love. It begins with the Hambletonian Oaks, ends with the Hambletonian, and has the Jim Doherty Memorial and John Cashman Memorial sandwiched in between.

The Late 20-cent Pick-6 will start in the 10th race and conclude with the Hambletonian. That wager, as well as the Late 50-cent Pick-4 and 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 (which begins in race five), has a mandatory payout.

LET ME TELL YOU A STORY: Some of the major Hambletonian Day story lines include:

  • Is this one for the girls? Jiggy Jog S and Joviality S finished first and third, respectively, in the second Hambletonian elimination last week. Can one of them join Ramona Hill and Atlanta and become only the third filly in recent history to take home harness racing’s greatest prize?
  • A three-pronged attack: Atlanta, Bella Bellini and When Dovescry, who combined have earned a staggering $6.5 million in their careers, go at it in the Steele Memorial. Bella Bellini wants some revenge after seeing her four-race win streak come to an end at the hands of Atlanta last week in the Miss Versatility.
  • It’s a family affair: Lucas Wallin, the 29-year-old trainer of likely race favorite Rebuff, shoots for his first Hambletonian win. He may have to sleep on the couch if that happens, as his wife, Mikaela, is the caretaker of Joviality S. That filly’s trainer, Marcus Melander, is Mikaela’s brother and Wallin’s brother-in-law. Thanksgiving Day dinner could be rough.
  • Stretch explosion: Displaying an incredible final quarter of :26.4, Warrawee Xenia came from way back to upset short-priced favorite Fashion Schooner in the second of two Hambletonian Oaks eliminations. After winning six straight races at her home track of Woodbine Mohawk Park, the Mark Steacy trainee made it seven in her elim and hopes for a great eight in the final.
  • Will the clock get rocked? The Meadowlands played host to the historic 1:45.4 mile put up by Bulldog Hanover in the William Haughton Memorial on Meadowlands Pace Night, July 16. With the Bulldog away, can his mark be lowered in the Sam McKee Memorial? One horse who has shown he can go big miles is Rockyroad Hanover, who won a division of the Roll With Joe on July 2 in 1:46.2, the same night Bulldog went 1:46. “Bulldog’s 1:45.4 mile came at 9:55 p.m.” said Settlemoir. “We all know that historically, the track is faster during the day. If we get ideal conditions, you could see history again.”

FULL MENU OF STAKES: These are the 10 stakes races that will take place on Hambletonian Day: the $145,000 Steele Memorial, $337,000 Peter Haughton Memorial, $92,300 Shady Daisy, $275,000 Cane Pace, $173,000 Lady Liberty, $278,000 McKee Memorial, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, $355,000 Doherty Memorial, $279,000 Cashman Memorial and $1,000,000 Hambletonian.

TALK ABOUT VALUE: It’ll cost you $5 to get in the door on Saturday, but it’s well worth the half a sawbuck, as admission includes a commemorative Hambletonian hat.

Gates open at 10 a.m.

Dining and seating options include a Promenade Table ($300), Café Table ($100) or seating on the second floor in the seating lounge.

For information and reservations, call 201-THE-BIGM.

Hambo Day festivities include live music in the Backyard by the Craig Sailer Project, carnival rides and games throughout the Backyard, a Hambletonian Hat Contest, a FanZone tent with free swag giveaways, a driver and trainer autograph session (from 10:30 a.m.-noon) and many food trucks.

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

EARLY BIRDS: Have plans on Hambo Day? Worry not, you can get your action, as wagering on the entire Hambletonian Day card will be available all day on Friday (Aug. 5).

NINE IS FINE: On the Hambletonian Day card, there are eight opportunities for players to make a score, betting into huge pools that feature a low 15 percent takeout. And because it’s a special day, they’ll have an extra chance to hit big.

Here are the low takeout wagers that will be offered:

  • Race 1: 20-cent Pick-6
  • Race 3: 20-cent Pick-5
  • Race 5: 20-cent Survivor Pick-7
  • Race 8: 50-cent Pick-4
  • Race 10: 20-cent Pick-6
  • Race 12: 50-cent Pick-4
  • Race 15: 10-cent Hi-5/Pentafecta
  • Race 16: 10-cent Hi-5/Pentafecta
  • The ninth low-takeout bet that will be offered is the “Cross Country Pick-5”, a New York Racing Association wager that has a 50-cent base bet and big payoff potential. The bet encompasses the following races: Leg A – Race 12 at The Meadowlands; Leg B – Race nine at Saratoga; Leg C – Race 10 at Saratoga; Leg D – Race 11 at Saratoga; Leg E – Race 15 at The Meadowlands.

READ ALL ABOUT IT: For all things Hambletonian, check out these websites: playmeadowlands.com, harnessracingupdate.com, drf.com/harness, harnesslink.com and hambletonian.com.

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), Brower (@eedoogie), Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Ken Warkentin (@kenvoiceover) and Edison Hatter (@Edison_1999_).

MASTERMINDS $10,000 DRAWING SATURDAY: Warkentin (Friday) and Little (Saturday) were the winners last week in the Big M’s “Battle of the Masterminds” handicapping contest, but this Saturday, the big winner could be you.

On-track patrons can enter every live racing night, selecting the handicapper they think will win that night’s edition of the tournament. If that handicapper wins and that patron’s name is drawn from the entry box, they win a $200 betting voucher plus a $50 gas gift card.

That patron is then also entered into the $10,000 grand prize drawing, which takes place on Hambletonian Day after race 12. The nightly competition concludes Friday.

QUIT HORSING AROUND: The end of “Horseplay” is drawing near, and one lucky person is going to drive away in a new car.

Patrons attending the live races at The Meadowlands can participate for a chance to win a 2022 Toyota Corolla.

The contest takes place every live racing night through Friday (Aug. 5). Participants will attempt to throw a numbered horse into the window of a moving car. Of those that land inside the vehicle, one winner will be chosen at random and receive a $100 betting voucher.

Each night’s winner will be entered into the grand prize drawing, which takes place on Friday (Aug. 5) after race 10. Guests can pick up a free horse to toss at the Players Club Desk or the Horseplay table in front of the winner’s circle.

There is a bonus for the kids who are at the track. The youngsters who help pick up the horses left on the track will receive a free ice cream.

For every horse that makes it into the Horseplay car, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment will donate $5 to a designated monthly charity. May’s charity was Act Now Foundation, June’s was Bluemont Sanctuary and the July/August recipient is Allaire Community Farm. An additional $5 for every horse that makes it into the car will also be donated to the Purple Haze Standardbred Adoption Program.

TRATTERTONIAN FRIDAY: The Tratter Co. boys will go at it on the track for a second time in the Tratter House Pace-Off Part Deux.

Nick Luciano, Blake Moore, Beau Deatrick and Roy Dinges will get behind the gate Friday (Aug. 5) night after the fourth race.

On July 15, Blake was the winner of the half-mile dash, so Nick, Beau and Roy are out for revenge.

In addition, all four of the social media stars will host a meet and greet in the Harness Racing Fan Zone tent on Saturday (Aug. 6).

For further information, go to https://playmeadowlands.com/event/tratter-co-pace-off/

CASINO & POKER NIGHT: On Friday (Aug. 5), The Standardbred Retirement Foundation and the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame present Hambletonian Charity Casino Night at The Meadowlands.

There will be a poker tournament, table games, a silent auction and more.

Tickets are priced at $75 (casino guest) and $150 (exact special).

Things will kick off at 6:30 p.m. with dinner and an open bar as casino tables open. Then, at 7:15 p.m., the poker tournament begins with a $150 buy-in (equal to $3,000 in chips). There is a grand prize of a trip for two to Las Vegas with cash prizes for second and third.

At 9:15 p.m., the silent auction concludes as casino tables close before the clock strikes 9:30 p.m., when the bar closes and raffle winners are drawn.

For complete information, go to https://playmeadowlands.com/event/hambletonian-charity-casino-poker-night/

MORE RACING: There’ll be an extra day of racing during this, the final week of the Championship Meet.

The extra day of racing is Thursday (Aug. 4), when post time will be 6:20 p.m.

Then, racing will conclude for the meeting after live race cards on Friday (Aug. 5, post time 6:20 p.m.) and Saturday (Aug. 6, post time noon).

After the Hambletonian Day card concludes, there will be no live racing at The Meadowlands until Sept. 1.

STOP IN AT “THE BOOK”: To get your action on Major League Baseball – and just about anything else – don’t forget to stop in to the FanDuel Sportsbook, which is located inside the grandstand at The Meadowlands.

Before you get your bets down, go to https://www.fanduel.com/sportsbook-meadowlands for up-to-dates lines on any sporting event the book offers.

The sportsbook is open for business Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m.-1 a.m.; Friday 10 a.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday 7 a.m.-2 a.m. and Sunday 8 a.m.-12 a.m.