Concert @ MetLife Stadium 5/17 & 5/18. Please allow for extra travel time.

MEADOWLANDS STANDARD IS PURE GOLD

Thursday, April 18, 2024


According to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary website, a “gold standard” is something set up as an example against which others of the same type are compared.

And if one compares the seemingly endless string of nights when betting exceeds $3 million at The Meadowlands, every other track in North America comes up short against the industry’s handle leader.

“We are proud to have wagered over $3 million on 25 occasions this year from 29 total race cards,” said Big M Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “We are fortunate to have a race office staff that puts together events that bettors like to wager on, and horsemen who support our entry box week after week. Without them, I don’t think we’d be able to put up the numbers we do.”

Race secretary Scott Warren and his staff have come up with creative ways to card competitive races, despite several tracks in close proximity to The Big M opening up in recent weeks and siphoning off some of the horse flesh.

Last weekend, there were two TrackMaster Series finals on Friday which were won by Just A Rocket Man (at the modest TM 71 level) and Paige Perfect (73.5), respectively, each of whom completed three-race sweeps of their respective series. The TM71 race had a purse of $12,500 while the 73.5 went for $14,000. Both purses were considerably more than what horses of that caliber would normally compete for.

On Saturday, Jack’s Shadow N put on a powerhouse performance in the Play Meadowlands Series final – which carried a purse of $20,000 – with a lifetime-best-equaling 1:50.1 win.

These are the type of events that will, in the hopes of Meadowlands’ management, keep the track’s handle train in motion until The Big M’s unmatched-in-the-sport Championship Meet begins on Kentucky Derby Day (Saturday, May 4).

“To maintain the type of consistency we have from a business perspective is something we are extremely pleased with,” said Settlemoir. “Our fan base continues to support us, and we appreciate that very much. That’s why we try our best to give them the best product we possibly can every Friday and Saturday.”

Handle during April has cleared the $3-million hurdle on each of the four race cards contested thus far, with a high of $3.25 million on April 12 and a low of $3.1 million on April 5.

Competitive series offering bigger purses than what horsemen are accustomed to is part of the Meadowlands’ template for success. Another part of the $3-million equation can be attributed to the Meadowlands Amateur Driving Club events, which lately, has seen four dashes – three on Fridays, one on Saturdays – during the weekend.

“The sport of harness racing has rural American roots,” said Settlemoir. “Perhaps nothing personifies the humble spirit of our sport more than the MADC. Numbers don’t lie. Currently, the MADC are the most popular races in our sport. It’s truly amazing.”

The handle on these races back those words up. The total wagering on MADC events for the weekend of April 5-6 was $939,437, an average per race of $234,859. Last weekend, the total swelled to an incredible $1,204,198, an average of $301,049. For context, on a given night with the usual 14 races, an average of $300,000 per race would result in a total wager of $4.2 million.

Given the consistent total betting, it’s no surprise how steady action has been in the track’s popular multi-leg wagers.

During the month, the 20-cent Pick-5 has seen a low of $65,705 and a high of $91,734, and has averaged $79,585. The Early 50-cent Pick-4 – as low as $73,100 and as high as $103,885 – is averaging $84,201, while the Late P4 is averaging $87,452 with a low of $76,847 and a high of $105,714.

BIG HITS FOR LESS THAN TWO BITS: Need some proof that Big M players can make a score while wagering as little as 20 cents?

Last Friday’s 20-cent Pick-5 returned $10,804 while the 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 paid out $8,126.

Saturday’s big hits came in the Pick 7 ($4,334), 20-cent Pick-8 ($3,062) and 20-cent Pick-6 ($2,249).

‘THUNDER’ IN THE SULKY: Live racing, as usual, will take place this weekend on Friday (April 19) and Saturday (April 20) with a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m.

On Saturday, Andy McCarthy, aka The Thunder from Down Under, will be Dave Little’s guest on the track’s pregame show In the Sulky segment. The pregame show kicks off at 5:45 p.m.

A MULTI-EXPERIENCE DESTINATION: With live harness racing, the final Kentucky Derby prep race, The Past Masters live in Trackside, wagering on The Masters in the FanDuel Sportsbook and a UFC 300 watch party in The Gallery, last week proved once again that The Meadowlands offers many choices for those who want a night of exciting entertainment without having to cross the Hudson River.

UFC President Dana White continues to deliver the fights that people want to see. Anyone who was at The Meadowlands watch party for UFC 300 last Saturday will never forget the moment Max Holloway knocked out Justin Gaethje with one second to go in the bout. The featherweight standout now has a record of 25-7.

Later, in the main event, Alex Pereira defeated Jamahal Hill to retain his light heavyweight championship.

UFC 301 takes place on Saturday, May 4, and you can catch all of the punches and kicks in the Gallery at The Meadowlands.

DERBY DAY JUST TWO WEEKS AWAY: One of the biggest days – if not the biggest – in the horse racing industry during any calendar year is fast approaching.

The Kentucky Derby is known as “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports,” and if you would like to be a part of horse racing’s biggest event, head to The Meadowlands on Saturday, May 4, and spend the day at the best place to watch and wager on the 150th “Run for the Roses.”

On Derby Day, doors open at 9 a.m. with the first race at Churchill Downs slated to go at 10:30 a.m. Post time for The Derby is scheduled for 6:57 p.m. and will be shown to a national television audience on NBC Sports.

Guaranteed Derby Day dining includes the Café and second-floor Lounge.

Café reservations (must be prepaid):

  • $100 per four-person table
  • Waiter service
  • Guarantees track admittance and seating

Ticket-purchase price is also a food credit that can be used at the Café on Derby Day towards racetrack staples like chicken wings, french fries, cheesesteaks, burgers, pretzels, popcorn, ice cream and more. The credit is valid on Derby Day only.

Lounge reservations (must be prepaid):

  • $50 bar seat
  • $100 two-person table
  • $200 four-person table
  • $150 three-person couch
  • $500 four-person couch
  • Waiter service
  • Guarantees track admittance and seating

Ticket-purchase price is also a beverage and food credit to be used at the Victory Bar and kitchen on Derby Day towards delicious fare, including burgers, nachos, salads, sandwiches and more. The credit is valid on Derby Day only.

Derby Day Pink Buffet Menu – $64.95 per person (plus tax and tip)

  • Doors open at 4 p.m.; buffet begins at 4:30 p.m.

Derby Day Hat Contest:

  • $1,000 in total prize money
  • Register between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. in the Clubhouse Lobby
  • Judging will take place in the winner’s circle at approximately 5 p.m.

Prize breakdown: 1st place: $500; 2nd place: $250; 3rd place: $100; 4th place: $50; Fanciest: $100.

HAVE A BEER ON DERBY DAY: On Kentucky Derby Day, Saturday, May 4, The Meadowlands will host its annual Beer Fest.

Though over sixty breweries and cideries are participating, the fifteen participating New Jersey breweries are a true festival highlight.

The event will be held in the Backyard and on the East Apron and will open to the public at 4 p.m. for VIP admission. General admission begins at 5 p.m. and is available in advance for $45 or at the door for $50. The VIP ticket is $65 and includes an additional hour of sampling, exclusive VIP Tent beer samplings, and food.

For complete information, and to purchase tickets, go here.

FREE PROGRAMS EVERY NIGHT: Past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card are available free of charge. All one has to do is go to playmeadowlands.com to access the information.

“X” MARKS THE SPOT: Everything Meadowlands is available by going on X (formerly known as Twitter). You can check in with the Big M team for early changes, racing information and staff selections by going to @themeadowlands or #playbigm.

Stay in touch with The Big M team of Jessica Otten (@JessicaOtten1), Little (@DaveLittleBigM) and Ken Warkentin (@kenvoiceover).

THE GREAT EIGHT: The Meadowlands provides eight opportunities for the player to make a score trying their luck betting in pools with a low 15 percent takeout. The lineup of The Big M’s “Great Eight” is as follows (all wagers – with the exception of the Pick-7 – are carryover eligible):

  • Race 1:20-cent Pick-5
  • Race 2:20-cent Survivor Pick-7
  • Race 4:20-cent Pick-8
  • Race 6:50-cent Pick-4 ($50,000 guarantee)
  • Race 7:20-cent High-5
  • Race 8:20-cent Pick-6
  • Race 10:50-cent Pick-4 ($50,000 guarantee)
  • Race 11:20-cent High-5

WITHERITE’S RACE REVIEWS: Race reviews and selections by The Meadowlands’ morning-line odds maker and program analyst James Witherite are available 48 hours before a given race card. To access, simply go to playmeadowlands.com, go to the “handicapping” tab, then click “race reviews.”

FABULOUS FANDUEL: The FanDuel Sportsbook, the No. 1 facility of its type in North America, is something Meadowlands fans are well aware of. After all, it’s located inside the grandstand at the mile oval.

With numerous huge-screen TVs, plenty of comfortable seating and food and drink options, serious sports bettors know that the book at the track is the place to be.

The National Basketball Association and National Hockey League playoffs are now underway with several local teams in the hunt for championships.

In the NBA, the New York Knicks, the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, are the 11th choice to win the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy at +3000.

Now, it’s on to the “Turnpike Tussle.”

The Knicks road to a possible title begins on Saturday (April 20) at 6 p.m., when they take on the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference playoff series. The Knicks are a 3-point favorite and -146 on the money line in the game that has an under/over of 207 points.

Despite being the higher seed with an extra home game in the series, the Knicks are a +100 underdog in the series. The favored 76ers are -122.

In the NHL, the New York Rangers, fresh off a season that saw them claim the Presidents’ Trophy for the best record in the league, are the third choice to take home the Stanley Cup at +800.

The New York Islanders are the 15th choice at +5500.

With both the New Yankees and Mets taking a day off on Thursday (April 18), a game that might interest players is the 9:46 p.m. matchup between the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants. The Giants are a -152 favorite in the game that has an under/over of 7½ runs.

Whatever the sport, for the latest odds, go here.

The FanDuel Sportsbook is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-1 a.m.; Saturday 8 a.m.-1 a.m.; and Sunday 8 a.m.-midnight. For cash-at-counter customers, the hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m.-11 p.m.