Thursday, March 7, 2024

If all of February was fabulous, then the start of March was nothing short of magnificent at The Meadowlands, as last weekend (March 1-2), for the first time in 2024, total wagering over the course of a Friday-Saturday race week blew past the $7-million mark.

“The month of March got off to the grandest of starts,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “Full fields of highly competitive races on our mile track sparked a flurry of wagering action. Saturday evening was a rainy and dreary one weather-wise, but rain or shine, The Meadowlands’ faithful come to play.”

The Saturday handle of $3,568,532 pushed weekend action to $7,233,313. Big M management is hopeful that this is a sign of things to come, as during 2023, the $7-million weekend hurdle was cleared five times.

“The track crew did a magnificent job with the racing surface,” said Settlemoir. “And fast times were aplenty, including the 1:50 barrier being broken in race eight Saturday, when Sheer Terror won in 1:49.4.”

The weekend began with a Friday handle of $3,664,781, which established a 2024 Friday-night best.

LARRY LEDERMAN PASSES: After a long battle with cancer, popular race caller Larry Lederman passed away Tuesday. He was 67.

In recent years, even while in declining health, Lederman would occasionally fill-in on the mic at The Meadowlands, where he was always welcomed by management and fans alike.

An announcer who had jobs at many racetracks during his career, Lederman is likely best remembered by fans from when he was the caller at Atlantic City Race Course, Garden State Park and Freehold Raceway.

“You never knew what Larry was going to say,” said Big M TV’s Dave Little, who knew Lederman for more than 30 years. “Once, when my best friend and I went to Garden State, we went upstairs to say hi to Larry. Next thing we know, he’s introducing my friend to the crowd as the 1936 Olympic discus champion.

“Did he say silly stuff and sometimes give baseball scores during race calls? Yes. But did he always give the fans a good account of what was going on in the race at the same time? Absolutely. That’s what made Larry great at his craft.”

“Larry was part of the family at The Meadowlands,” said Settlemoir. “And we – as well as our fan base – always loved it when he would come and fill-in every once in a while. He was a funny guy who was also a smart guy who was also a great announcer. He will be missed.”

BETTING LIKE PROFESSIONALS: The Meadowlands Amateur Driving Club (MADC) is enjoying a sensational run in 2024, offering some of the biggest fields and pools in racing.

Friday (March 1) night was certainly one of their best evenings on record. The three MADC races took in a total of $826,036. Of considerable note, two of the MADC events were the top two races in terms of harness racing action in the country last weekend, with race one seeing $324,585 bet while race seven saw $315,550 pushed through the windows.

“We want to thank our horsewomen and horsemen who put on the show last weekend under rainy skies,” said Settlemoir. “Their efforts, which resulted in our biggest box office weekend of the year, have to be acknowledged.

“We also continue to thank the horseplayers from around the world for their loyal support of our product. Besides low takeout, one of the ways we say thank you is by offering free programs online to our horseplayers and guests. The complimentary information is available for all Meadowlands programs on our website (”

‘ARDAN’ LOOKS FOR MAGNIFICENT SEVEN: Saturday (March 9) night’s 10th-race featured high-end conditioned pace will see the return of the current biggest star in harness racing, as the Robert Cleary-trained Oakwood Ardan IR will bid for his seventh straight victory since coming to North America last fall from Great Britain.

The 5-year-old Irish-bred gelded son of Sweet Lou-Trend Setter will depart from post six in a talented eight-horse field and will start out at 2-1 on the morning-line with regular driver Andy McCarthy at the controls.

After Oakwood Ardan IR’s win on Feb. 10, McCarthy was fired up when talking about the lifetime winner of 15 of 34 starts.

“Professional. I think that’s the perfect word for this horse,” said McCarthy, whose 24 wins are good for second in the Big M driver standings. “He does everything you want him to do. He wants to go to work. This horse, he’s pretty exciting.”

OH YES, IT’S LADIES’ NIGHT: Following in the footsteps of music industry giants Queen Bey and Tay Tay, Saturday (March 9), will be one for women in harness racing to shine, as The Meadowlands will again host an International Women’s Day-themed broadcast, sponsored by Clinton Tractor.

Jessica and Jenna Otten will host the live in-house simulcast show, and, in addition, Dawnelle Mock will be on hand for paddock and social media interviews. The night will include interviews, features and videos.

During the pregame show, Jessica will have Lauren Harmon on set as her guest “In the Sulky”.

Harmon is a lifelong horseman who is the niece of Big M trainer Rob Harmon. The segment will begin at 5:50 p.m.

CHECK OUT THE SHOW: The Big M’s live “Racing from The Meadowlands” pregame show takes place before every live race card from the Sam McKee Memorial Broadcast Set.

The broadcast begins at 5:45 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday, before the live racing kicks off at 6:20 p.m.

UFC 299 FOR THE STRAP: If championship fights interest you, then UFC 299 is something you’d like to see for sure, so visit The Meadowlands on Saturday (March 9) and head for the fight-night-ready Gallery to check out the bout for the bantamweight title.

Once there, you can catch every punch, kick and takedown on one of many TVs that will show the action. There is a variety of seating as well as a full-service bar.

The main bouts get underway at 10 p.m., with the featured fight – one that is not to be missed – serving as the final act, when champion Sean O’Malley puts his belt on the line against fifth-ranked Marlon Vera.

MARVELOUS MAYHEM: The NCAA men’s college basketball tournament is one of the greatest gambling events of the year, and you can watch and wager on every game at The Meadowlands in the FanDuel Sportsbook.

The is the tournament schedule (Selection Sunday is on March 17):

  • First Four: March 19-20
  • First round: March 21-22
  • Second round: March 23-24
  • Sweet 16: March 28-29
  • Elite Eight: March 30-31
  • Final Four: April 6
  • Championship: April 8

HANDICAP WELL, WIN SOME GREEN: After a brief hiatus, The Meadowlands is bringing back a live money handicapping contest on Saturday, March 23.

There is no entry fee ($100 live money bankroll required) for players and the prize pool is a guaranteed $5,000, which will be fully funded by The Big M. The night of the contest, players must register/check-in at the Clubhouse Lobby by 6:20 p.m. A $100 betting card must be purchased to participate as this is a live money/wagering contest.

The contest format:

  • Contestants must bet a minimum of 10 Meadowlands races
  • $10 minimum bet per race; no maximum bet
  • Win, Place, Show and/or Exacta wagers only
  • One horse per race
  • Contestants keep all pari-mutuel winnings
  • Unlimited entries allowed per person
  • Players keep all pari-mutuel winnings

For complete contest rules and regulations, go here

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

“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 Otten (@JessicaOtten1), Dave Little (@DaveLittleBigM) and Ken Warkentin (@kenvoiceover).

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, go to the “handicapping” tab, then click “race reviews”.

WHO WILL SURVIVE? The track’s Winter Meet Survival Challenge, powered by 123Racing, is in full swing, and when the contest concludes, cash prizes and Meadowlands swag will go to those at or near the top of the leaderboard in the free online competition.

TrackMaster is providing Platinum Past Performances for each night of the contest. The game covers the Winter Meet and concludes March 30.

The contest began Jan. 5 with 2,323 participants, and thus far, a little more than 1,700 of those have been eliminated, leaving 605 in the hunt for the top prize.

Currently, the top three in the standings are OnTheEngine ($504.70), BleedsDodgerBlue ($431.40) and adriennesue ($419.70).

There is also a prize for who picks the most winners. Sitting at the top of the heap is joejets with 24. There is a four-way tie for second, as onceacoach, Ramey44, Loislitt and Tuddyboy11 all have 21.

The winner will be determined by the highest total bankroll at the end of the Challenge based on a $2 across-the-board wager on selections for three designated races on each program.

The prize board:

The grand prize is $750 plus a Meadowlands swag package

The second-place prize is $500 plus a Meadowlands swag package

The third-place prize is $250 plus a Meadowlands swag package

Most Winners: $200 plus a Meadowlands swag package

Highest monthly bankroll: $100 (one winner in each month)

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME: The FanDuel Sportsbook, which is located inside the grandstand at The Meadowlands, is the No. 1 facility of its kind in North America, and for the upcoming baseball season, is the place to go to watch and wager on every game.

The regular season doesn’t begin until the end of March, but there is plenty of action for baseball lovers who love ‘futures’.

With the big acquisitions they made during the off-season, the Los Angeles Dodgers (+320) are the favorites to win the World Series, followed by the Atlanta Braves (+450), Houston Astros (+700), New York Yankees (+800) and the defending World Champion Texas Rangers (+1400).

Yankees’ fans will be happy when they see the odds for American League Most Valuable Player, as Aaron Judge (+550) and newly acquired Juan Soto (+600) are the top two in terms of shortest odds. Behind the pair of Bronx Bombers are Texas’ Corey Seager (+850), Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez (+1100) and Houston’s Yordan Alvarez (+1100).

The NL MVP board has Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. (+500) followed by three Dodgers, Mookie Betts (+650), Freddie Freeman (+900) and Shohei Ohtani (+950). Rounding out the top five is San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr. (+1000).

Whatever the sport, for the latest odds, go here

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.; Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m.-11 p.m.