Saturday, March 2, 2024

Wagering at The Meadowlands has been strong all year long, but Friday night was an especially good night on an especially cold night (with a real-feel temperature of 35 degrees) as a 2024 Friday-night best (and second-highest overall) $3,664,781 was put in play on the 14-race program.

Not surprisingly, the two races that offer the track’s popular 50-cent Pick-4 saw vigorous wagering, as $303,326 was bet on race six, and $311,547 on race 10. During the night, single-race betting topped $300,000 five times.

There have been 16 programs contested at The Big M this year, with 14 of those seeing wagering bust the $3-million barrier. The previous Friday-night best was established on Feb. 2 when $3.27 million was pushed through the windows.

The top night of action this year was on Saturday, Jan. 27, when the total handle was $3,779,096.

GETTING IT DUNN: It was merely another night at the salt mine for Dexter Dunn, as the 34-year-old New Zealand native recorded three wins on the card to lead the driver colony.

Dunn scored with American Way ($3.00) in the second race, ER Vegas ($3.60) in the ninth and Southwind Frost ($3.60) in the 11th.

The four-time Dan Patch Driver of the Year (from 2019-22) has now won at least one race on each of the eight programs he’s competed on since his return from vacation on Feb. 3.

SWEET SOUNDING SWEDE: There was no need to adjust your TV for Friday’s sixth race, as the dash was called quite capably by 19-year-old Alex Persson, the track announcer at Aby Racetrack in Sweden.

Persson was in town visiting and Big M caller Ken Warkentin was happy to give up the microphone for a race.

“It was amazing [to call a race at The Meadowlands],” said Persson. “But it’s different calling a race here. First of all, it’s a mile track. Aby is a smaller track, and the race goes a bit differently here. It’s a lot faster.”

Persson was exceptionally young when he got the gig at Aby. “I’ve been the race caller there since August of 2021, when I was 17. I did some race calling for two years before that at a small summer track in Sweden. The announcer at Aby was quitting and they wanted to go with some young, fresh blood. That’s how I got the job.”

One day, Persson hopes to call the biggest race in his country.

“I would love to call the Elitloppet,” said Persson. “It’s the biggest dream of any announcer in Sweden. Hopefully, that will come someday.”

A LITTLE MORE: Big M TV’s Dave Little was red hot with his selections on the card, tabbing eight winners, three exactas and the Late Daily Double. Little’s big hit of the night came in the ninth race when he had the Early Pick-4 three times, giving his fans a $321 score for a $36 investment. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO: ER Vegas wins the ninth race at The Meadowlands Friday night, one of three winners on the card for driver Dexter Dunn. (Credit: Lisa Photo)