Sunday, August 7, 2022

The players were out in force on Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands, as the total handle was $7,656,054 on the 16-race program, eclipsing last year’s action by more than $1 million. The total handle and the average per race of $478,503 were both by far 2022 bests.

The betting from foreign organizations – such as the PMU (Pari Mutuel Urbain of France) and ATG (the Swedish entity) – are unavailable for several days, but these figures are likely to push the grand total handle near or past the $9-million mark, a barrier broken only once in Hambo history, when wagering in 2005 (North American and foreign) totaled $9,015,019.

On Saturday, betting on 11 races bettered the $400,000 mark, while five races saw at least $500,000 pushed through the windows. Wagering on The Hambletonian fell just short of $1 million, as a total of $979,627 was put in play, by far the biggest total for any single race during 2022 at The Big M.

“Our handle being way up today is a combination of hard work and dedication,” said Big M Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “And, obviously, us hooking up with the New York Racing Association team by going on national television through Fox Sports 2 and Fox Sports 1 we think is starting to finally pay off because you are getting a totally different audience with the thoroughbred players switching over to harness.”

“I am pleasantly surprised at how much our handle was up,” said Settlemoir. “What really shocked me is when I saw the Oaks handle pop up with a total pool of over $855,000. That about knocked me out of my seat. It just goes to show what [President and Chief Executive Officer] Jeff [Gural] and I have said all along that we need to get in front of a national television audience.”

DYNAMIC DUO DOMINANT: Driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke have teamed up to win numerous races throughout the years, so many, in fact, that the potent pair were both enshrined into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame last month in Goshen, New York.

Seemingly to prove that was a good decision, Gingras and Burke capped a big Meadowlands Championship Meeting Saturday by finishing well in front of the field in their respective dash-win categories.

Gingras’ 108 victories were 28 more than his closest pursuer, Dexter Dunn. Dunn finished on top in the driver’s money-earnings race with $3,026,547. He was followed by Tim Tetrick ($2,587,768) and Gingras ($2,519,432).

Burke students won 68 times, well in front of Jeff Cullipher, whose pupils made 40 winner’s circle visits. Burke also won the money title as his horses earned $1,676,709. Tony Alagna was next with $1,476,901.

A LITTLE MORE: A modest carryover led to huge action in the 20-cent Pick-6 that was offered on races one through six. The carryover of $12,120 led to $128,228 in “new money” being poured into the pool, for a grand total of $140,348. … Dunn led the driver colony with three winners on the day. … In addition to his Hambo-Oaks sweep, trainer Jim Campbell also took the Continentalvictory for 3-year-old trotting fillies with Misswalner Fashion to finish with a trainer-colony best three victories on the card. … Live harness racing returns to The Meadowlands on Sept. 1.