Thursday, March 3, 2022

With winter’s frigid grip starting to weaken on the Tri-State Area as the calendar marches its way toward spring, betting at The Meadowlands has picked up in a big way over the last two weeks, culminating last Saturday (Feb. 26) when the $3-million barrier was busted for the first time in 2022.

“Full fields, low takeouts, big pools and exciting finishes,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir, “the whole night was a success in every way and watching our “prime-time” races (six through nine) average over $300,000 per race during the Winter Meet was extremely encouraging for our sport. We continue to thank our fans worldwide for their loyal support of New Jersey racing on our mile track here at The Meadowlands.”

The Big M faithful responded in a big way to its favorite wagers Saturday, the “Big 3” of the 20-cent Pick-5 and two 50-cent Pick-4s.

A total of $309,688 was put in play on the first race, $73,504 of that in the 20-cent Pick-5. Over the first five races, the handle was $1,178,159.

Then, in race six, a 2022-best $104,703 was wagered in the 50-cent Early Pick4, which served as the catalyst for the high single-race handle of the night at $352,929. Total action for those four races, aka “Prime Time”, was $1,244,720, good for a per race average of $311,180.

The 50-cent Late Pick-4, which kicked off in the 10th race, had a pool of $86,869, and paved the way for total action on that race of $296,000, as $890,636 was pushed through the windows on the final four dashes of the night.

The two Pick-4s accounted for over $190,000 in total play, while the grand total of the three races (when you add in the Pick-5’s race) was $958,617, an average of just under $320,000 per dash.

All-source handle for the Saturday night card was $3,310,483, an average per race of $254,652.

The Saturday (Feb. 19) prior, total wagering was $2.7 million to cap the biggest weekend of total play thus far this year at almost $5.67 million. Last weekend that total would undoubtedly have been surpassed, but Friday’s races were canceled due to inclement weather.

GETTING IT DUNN: In his first appearance of 2022 at The Big M, three-time defending United States Harness Writers Association Driver of the Year Dexter Dunn showed no signs of rust after his lengthy vacation Saturday night, winning four times on the program.

Dunn scored with I’m A Big Deal ($15.20 to win in the fourth race), DA Delightful ($9.20 in the sixth), Monty Mono ($6.40 in the 11th) and Game Of Change ($33.20 in the 12th). Only Monty Mono went off as the post-time favorite.

Game Of Change capped a big night for Dunn’s fans. Players who wagered $20 on all 11 of the native New Zealander’s drives that night got back a whopping $638.

Yannick Gingras kept up his frantic early-season pace, registering a driving double, giving him at least two wins on all 13 Big M cards in 2022.

A GOOD WAY TO SURVIVE: One sharp bettor raked the pot in the 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 last Saturday, needing only the first six winners to cash in for $9,079.

LIVE RACING SCHEDULE: Racing at The Big M is conducted on a Friday-Saturday basis and has a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m.

The track’s live “Racing from The Meadowlands” pregame show kicks off nightly at 5:47 p.m.

TUNE IN FOR TODD: On the Friday (March 4) night pregame show, driver Todd McCarthy will be Dave Little’s guest on “In the Sulky”, which will get underway at approximately 5:50 p.m.

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.

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

LOW TAKEOUTS, HIGH EXPECTATIONS: The Meadowlands offers its faithful six opportunities nightly to make a score by betting into pools with a low 15 percent takeout as well as low minimum base bets. Here is a list of those wagers, and when they are offered:

  • Race 1: 20-cent Pick-5
  • Race 3:20-cent Survivor Pick-7
  • Race 6: 50-cent Early Pick-4 ($50,000 guaranteed pool)
  • Race 8:20-cent Pick-6
  • Race 10: 50-cent Late Pick-4 ($50,000 guaranteed pool)
  • Race 13:10-cent Pentafecta/Hi-5

WHO DOES BROWER LIKE? For expert selections and analysis of every Big M card, check out track oddsmaker Brower’s race reviews.

For Brower’s input, which is generally available 48 hours before every card, go to playmeadowlands.com, then click on the “handicapping” tab and go to “race reviews”.

WHAT’S COMING UP? Next weekend, be aware not to step on my blue suede shoes.

On Saturday, March 12, Ralph Carey will be in Pink Restaurant doing his tribute show to the King, Elvis Presley.

The buffet, which is priced at $64.95, begins at 5:30 p.m. with Carey performing from 8-10:15 p.m.

For more information, go to https://playmeadowlands.com/event/elvis-tribute-show/

The same night, handicappers will go at it in another qualifier for the World Harness Handicapping Championship.

There will be $5,000 in prize money (based on 50 entries) up for grabs plus two seats to the WHHC Final on Sept. 10 at The Meadowlands. All this for an entry fee of just $200.

For more information, go to https://playmeadowlands.com/event/2022-march-200-whhc-qualifier/

COUNTDOWN TO MAYHEM: When the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament begins on March 17, hoops fans can come to the FanDuel Sportsbook and watch and wager on the games.

The championship game will take place on April 4.

Bettors can catch all the games at “The Book”, which is located inside the grandstand at The Meadowlands. There are massive HDTVs, dining options with table service and plenty of self-service – and, of course, full service – wagering machines ready to take your action.

For more information, go to https://playmeadowlands.com/event/2152/

DURANT IS BACK: Thursday (March 3) night, Kevin Durant makes his return to the floor for the Brooklyn Nets, as they take on the visiting Miami Heat.

Durant is a 12-time All-Star who’s been out since January with a sprained MCL in his left knee.

The Heat are a 2½-point favorite who are -138 on the money line in the game that tips off at 7:30 p.m. The under/over is 221½.

Hours for the book are Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m.-1 a.m.; Friday 10 a.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday 7 a.m.-1 a.m. and Sunday 8 a.m.-12 a.m.