Thursday, February 24, 2022

There are many reasons harness fans play the races at The Meadowlands, the industry’s handle leader.

Top-quality racing, the best drivers in the world, big fields and big pools are the biggest reasons why. But another factor that does not go unnoticed or unappreciated are the wagers that offer big pools and big payoffs for a small investment.

Low-takeout 20-cent bets have been paying off in a big way at the big track next to MetLife Stadium.

“The Meadowlands has always tried to be one of the gambling trendsetters in the horse racing business,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “The 2021-2022 wagering menu offers players of every size bankroll a chance to make a score.”

When one looks at what the payoffs have been during the first six weeks of racing in 2022, they might start playing these bets exclusively.

Thus far this year, here are the startling numbers when the subject is Big M bets that have a minimum base bet of 20 cents or less:

Wager                 Avg. Payout    Winning Odds

20-cent Pick-7      $5,002             25,010-to-1

20-cent Pick-6      $3,530             17,650-to-1

20-cent Pick-5      $2,095             10,475-to-1

10-cent Hi-5          $2,558             25,580-to-1

“Here at The Meadowlands, we offer these wagers with a low takeout of 15 percent, which puts more money back into the pocket of the horseplayer,” said Settlemoir. “That makes The Big M the destination of many vertical and horizontal players that are searching for action and value every weekend.”

One does not necessarily need to bet a lot to win a lot. How about the 20-cent Survivor Pick-7, which is offered nightly on races three through nine? A bettor could call out a ticket using 1x2x2x2x3x4x1 and spend only $19.20. Spending just a little more increases one’s chances. Another ticket might read 2x2x2x2x3x3x1. The cost? $28.80.

Using a “single” in the final leg allows one to get more coverage early in the bet, since there are nights when there are no tickets that have all seven winners. One such night was Jan. 15, when the winning ticket needed only the first six winners to cash in for $7,584. That winning player did not need to have the 8-1 shot that scored in the “payoff leg”. The first six winner’s odds in the sequence were a far-from-far-fetched 9-2, 7-5, 9-2, 1-1, 2-1 and 5-2.

That’s the beauty of these multi-leg wagers.

Players with small bankrolls who want to hit like high-rollers no doubt dig the 20-cent Pick-6 (offered on races eight through 13), where players can get plenty of value playing tickets like these:

  • 2x2x2x2x2x2 = $12.80
  • 1x1x2x3x4x5 = $24.00
  • 1x1x2x2x2xALL = $16.00

The Pick-6 paid out handsomely Feb. 19 night despite a pair of winning favorites and zero longshots. The sequence of winner’s odds was 4-1, 2-1, *9-5, 5-2, 5-2 and *8-5, and those with winning tickets walked away with $3,199.

The 20-cent Pick-5 – offered on races one through five – has been an especially popular play of late, as total action was $79,620 on Feb. 18 and $74,064 the next night.

For those who like their multi-leg results chalk-less, hopefully, they cashed on Feb. 18, when no winning favorites clicked and the Pick-5 returned $5,225.

The Saturday prior to that, you didn’t need to be a longshot lover to live the high life. Three favorites, a 4-1 and a 9-1 shot combined to create a payout of $4,259.

Some of the tickets cashed that night might have been called out this way:

  • 2x2x2x2x2 = $6.40
  • 1x2x2x2x2 = $3.20
  • 1x2x3x3x3 = $10.80
  • 1x2x3x4x5 = $24.00
  • 2x3x4x4x5 = $96.00

Need to get out? Then the 10-cent Hi-5/Pentafecta is for you, as it is offered on the final race every night.

With a minimum bet of one thin dime, players can spread their tickets wide to try and go for the gold.

Many try for the Hi-5 by playing partial wheels, which can be played for small change if you key a horse(s) to finish in a particular position:

  • 1w2,3,4,5w2,3,4,5w2,3,4,5w2,3,4,5 = $2.40
  • 1w2,3,4,5,6w2,3,4,5,6w2,3,4,5,6w2,3,4,5,6 = $12.00
  • For those who like a box – 1,2,3,4,5 = $12.00

How about a “Players’ Ticket”, where you start with three in the win position and add one horse for each subsequent leg:

  • 1,2,3w1,2,3,4w1,2,3,4,5w1,2,3,4,5,6w1,2,3,4,5,6,7 = $24.30

Enthusiasts who invested that $24.30 and hit on Feb. 19 were no doubt all smiles. Despite 8-5 favorite Hes Gone Badder going wire-to-wire, the second and third choices were nowhere to be found in the top five, creating a payoff of $1,152.

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” pre-game show kicks off nightly at 5:47 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_).

WHO DOES BROWER LIKE? For expert selections and analysis of every Big M card, check out track oddsmaker Dave 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”.

CHECK OUT “THE BOOK”: For those who like to bet on sports, there is only one place to be: The FanDuel Sportsbook, the No. 1 facility of its type in the world. Meadowlands’ fans don’t have to go far to get there. It’s located inside the grandstand at the mile oval.

Thursday (Feb. 24) night, the new-look Brooklyn Nets travel to Boston to take on the Celtics in a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. The Nets are a 9-point underdog who are +330 on the money line. The under/over is 214½.

For those who like prop bets, the Celtics two-pronged scoring attack of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will be on display. If you think either or both will score at least 35 points, you can make a score. Tatum is +400 while Brown is +700.

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.-2 a.m. and Sunday 8 a.m.-12 a.m.

MARCH MANIA IS COMING: When the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament begins on March 15, hoops fans can come to the FanDuel Sportsbook and watch and wager on the games.

The championship game will take place on April 4.