Thursday, May 4, 2023

The Meadowlands won’t merely offer the best harness racing anywhere this Friday (May 5) and Saturday (May 6) night, because that wouldn’t be enough given the enormity of the weekend.

The Big M will offer a pair of 14-race programs that will get underway at 6:20 p.m. The Saturday night program will offer three divisions of leg one of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for 3-year-old pacers of each sex as well as the opening leg of the Miss Versatility series for mare trotters, starring Bella Bellini.

In addition, it will also offer the biggest horse racing simulcast event of the calendar year, as famed racetrack Churchill Downs will host the 149th edition of The Kentucky Derby on Saturday, and local fans will be able to watch and wager on the “Run for the Roses” at one of the best simulcast destinations in all of racing.

The Derby – which will have 20 horses in the starting gate – has a post time of 6:57 p.m. and will be contested between races two and three on the live harness card. Forte is the 3-1 morning-line favorite from post position 15 for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. The Todd Pletcher trainee has won six-of-seven lifetime starts.

“In terms of business, The Meadowlands is having one of their greatest years in recent memory,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “The Kentucky Derby will be the headliner during an incredible weekend at The Big M. Along with our live racing, we have put together an extensive menu of entertainment options. With the warmer weather on the way, we are determined to make The Meadowlands one of the most fun places to be this spring and summer.”

CAN’T GET TO THE TRACK? For those who only have a few minutes to bet on The Derby and then be on their way, a walk-up wagering window will be available from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. The window is located in Lot M in the sports complex off Berry’s Creek Road.

Friday’s featured race is The Derby’s sister event, the Kentucky Oaks.

KENTUCKY DERBY DAY: The doors at The Meadowlands open at 9 a.m. Saturday morning with the first of 14 races at Churchill Downs slated for 10:30 a.m.

If you’d prefer to relax and have a nice meal in a low-key environment instead of watching the racing in the simulcast area, The Big M can take care of that.

There are a handful of ways to go, including a $100 option, which is a table for four with the cost going towards food in the Café.

There will also be availability in the Lounge, which has $50 seats in the bar, as well as 2- and 4-person tables at $50 per person.

For some fine dining, check out the big Derby Day buffet in Pink Restaurant for $64.95.

For complete information, or to buy tickets, go to

AND EVERYBODY WANTS A HAT: There is also a Derby Day Hat Contest, where those with chapeaus that make an impression will vie for $1,000 in total prize money.

To be eligible, one must 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., with first place worth $500.

BEER FEST: Also part of the Derby Day festivities is The Big M’s seventh annual Beer Festival, which will be held in The Backyard.

The event, which is rain or shine, will offer a VIP package for $65 – where samplers can taste from 4 p.m.-9 p.m. – as well as general admission for $45 ($50 at the door), where sampling – with over 60 breweries participating – will take place from 5 p.m.-9 p.m.

For more information, and to purchase tickets, go to

WIN SOME WIN BETS: How about making a $100 win bet without reaching into your pocket?

You can do that on Derby Day at The Big M. What can you win? There will be a total of 20 wagers given out, all worth $100. Ten will be drawn at 6 p.m. and those bets are to be made on the Kentucky Derby. The other 10 will be drawn at 7 p.m. and those wagers are to be made on the live harness card.

Fans must complete a registration form online to be eligible, must be 18 or older to win and can only win one time per night.

To register, go to

BRING YOUR DANCING SHOES: On Friday nights, beginning May 5, check out the rooftop terrace at The Meadowlands and enjoy “Latin Fridays”.

There will be food and drink specials, dancing and a live DJ. That’s every Friday night from 6-11 p.m.

CAN YOU SURVIVE? On Friday (May 5), The Big M’s “Summer Meet Survival Challenge”, powered by 123Racing, will begin with cash prizes and seats in the World Harness Handicapping Championship up for grabs in the competition that is online only but free to participate in.

The game covers the entirety of the “Championship Meet”, which concludes on Saturday, August 5.

For complete details, and to enter, go to

HORSEPLAY GIVEAWAY: Would you like to win a car?

Well, then come to The Meadowlands starting on Friday (May 5) for the “Horseplay Car Giveaway”, where the grand prize is a 2023 Toyota Camry.

Every live racing night, patrons will toss small rubber horses into a moving car along the fence at the track, and those whose horses make it into the vehicle have a chance to win it. The winner will be announced on Friday, Aug. 4.

For every horse that makes it into the Horseplay car, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment will donate $5 to a designated monthly charity.

The May recipient is Helping Horseshoe, June’s is Spectrum 360 while the July/August donation will go to HOPES. An additional $5 for every horse that makes it into the car will also be donated to the Purple Haze Standardbred Adoption Program.

For complete information and giveaway rules, go to

BIG M GOES NATIONAL: Last Saturday (April 29), The Meadowlands joined forces with the TV team at the New York Racing Association (NYRA) to show harness racing to a national audience that is normally accustomed to watching the Thoroughbred game. The show was the first of eight that will be telecast on the networks of Fox Sports between now and the end of the year.

“We wanted to have a vehicle where people who would normally just be exposed to Thoroughbred races would have a chance to see our races as well,” said Settlemoir. “Teaming up with the TV crew at the NYRA has provided us a chance to show our races to an audience that we hope will take to our product. We feel that last year’s exposure on these Fox Network shows has helped us, at least in small part, to have what has so far been a tremendous year of business at The Meadowlands.”

The remaining schedule for when Meadowlands’ races will be shown on either FS1 or FS2 is as follows:

  • Friday, May 19 (9-11:30 p.m.)
  • Saturday, May 20 (8-11 p.m.; featuring the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial FFA Trot)
  • Saturday, July 1 (9-11 p.m.; Crawford Farms and Six Pack FFA Trots, Dave Brower Memorial and Perfect Sting FFA Paces)
  • Saturday, July 8 (9-11 p.m.; Meadowlands Pace eliminations, Graduate finals)
  • Saturday, July 15 (10 p.m.-midnight; Meadowlands Pace, William Haughton Memorial, Hambletonian Maturity plus other stakes for total purses of $2.5 million)
  • Saturday, Aug. 5 (1-5 p.m. and 6-7 p.m.; Hambletonian, Hambletonian Oaks plus other stakes for total purses of $3.5 million)
  • Friday, Sept. 8 (9-11 p.m.; New Jersey Classic Series finals)

DON’T PAY: Free past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card are available by going to

TWEET US: 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 The Big M team of Otten (@JessicaOtten1), Dave Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Ken Warkentin (@kenvoiceover) and Edison Hatter (@Edison_1999_).

THE SENSATIONAL SEVEN: These are the seven wagers The Big M offers nightly to the bettor that offer both a low minimum wager as well as a low 15 percent takeout. In addition, the two Pick-4s offer a guaranteed pool of $50,000.

The list:

  • Race 1: 20-cent Pick-5
  • Race 3: 20-cent Survivor Pick-7
  • Race 6: Early 50-cent Pick-4 ($50,000 guaranteed pool)
  • Race 7: Early 10-cent Hi-5
  • Race 8: 20-cent Pick-6
  • Race 10: Late 50-cent Pick-4 ($50,000 guaranteed pool)
  • Race 14: Late 10-cent Hi-5

HATTER’S RACE REVIEWS: Race reviews and selections by The Meadowlands’ morning-line odds maker, program analyst and TV talent Hatter are available 48 hours before a given race card. To access this valuable information from one of the brightest young minds in the sport, simply go to, go to the “handicapping” tab, then click “race reviews”.

GET YOUR ACTION IN “THE BOOK”: With the Brooklyn Nets and New York Islanders and Rangers eliminated from the playoffs, those fans will have to wait until next year.

Such is not the case for backers of the New Jersey Devils and New York Knicks, who are continuing their respective runs to a possible championship.

The Devils travel to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes on Friday (May 5) in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Hurricanes, who lead the series 1-0, are -120 on the money line but if you prefer the Devils plus 1½ goals, then your price is -265. The under/over is 5½ goals. The opening faceoff is at 8 p.m.

The Knicks-Miami Heat Eastern Conference semifinal, currently tied at a game apiece, resumes on Saturday (May 6). Game 3 will take place in Miami and the Heat are 3½-point favorites in the game that has an under/over of 208½. Tipoff is at 3:30 p.m.

Big M regulars can catch all the action in the No. 1 sports betting facility in North America, the FanDuel Sportsbook, which is located inside the grandstand of the mile oval.

Whatever the sport, for the latest odds, go to

The FanDuel Sportsbook is open Monday through 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. and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m.-11 p.m.