Thursday, April 21, 2022

Cabin fever. It’s defined as “irritability, listlessness, and similar symptoms from long confinement or isolation indoors during the winter.”

With May just 10 days away and great weather expected for the upcoming weekend, it’s time to break out of the winter doldrums, and what better place could there be to go for all kinds of action, entertainment and dining options than The Meadowlands?

“As we celebrate the upcoming stakes season,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “The Meadowlands hopes to become your warm weather destination for the spring and summer seasons. We offer fun and excitement for everyone at one of the finest entertainment venues in the Metropolitan area.”

If you talk Meadowlands, you begin with the best harness racing in the world. While it’s true that stakes season doesn’t kick off in full force until the weekend of May 6-7 when the New Jersey Sire Stakes, Graduate and Miss Versatility get the hearts of fans racing, but this Saturday (April 23), it will be difficult to find a program more powerful anywhere.

The sixth race Open Handicap for trotters stars Hillexotic, who prevented Lovedbythemasses from staying perfect in five 2022 starts when they hooked up two Saturdays ago. In the 10th race, an Open for 4-year-old pacers, trainer Nancy Takter sends out a talented duo of One Eight Hundred and Red Right Hand while Brett Pelling will counter with South Beach Star, whose lifetime best of 1:48.1 is just one tick slower than One Eight Hundred’s all-time fastest effort. Both marks were taken at The Big M.

Finally, the 12th race Open for pacers features a power-packed field of six.

“The Open pace is my shortest field number-wise,” said Racing Secretary Scott Warren. “But it’s not short as far as quality. I’ve only got six, but it’s a good six.”

Workin Ona Mystery and Let It Ride N finished 1-2 when they last met at Dover Downs on March 31. Then, Workin Ona Mystery followed that up with a Big M score a week ago as the 3-5 public choice. Also in the field is J M Mandamin, who rocketed home in :25 in his qualifier last week, as well as American History, who in three different seasons established sub-1:48 seasonal-bests at The Big M as a 3-year-old (1:47), 5-year-old (1:47.1) and 6-year-old (1:47.2).

COUNTDOWN TO THE WHHC: With The Meadowlands being the top Standardbred venue in the sport, it’s a natural that the World Harness Handicapping Championship Final would be held at The Big M (it takes place on Sept. 10), and those who’d like to earn a spot in the big event can do so when there is another WHHC Qualifier at the mile oval on Saturday, April 30.

The contest has a $400 buy-in – $200 is a non-refundable entry fee and a $200 “betting card” must also be purchased. Entrants keep all pari-mutuel winnings, and there are a maximum of four entries per person.

What could work out to be even bigger than players keeping their winnings? The top four finishers will win a spot in the WHHC Final.

For complete information, go to https://playmeadowlands.com/event/2022-april-400-whhc-qualifier/

SURVIVE THE SUMMER: On Friday, May 6, The Meadowlands’ Summer Meet Survival Challenge, sponsored by 123Racing, begins with some great things on the table for bettors.

Cash prizes and World Harness Handicapping Championship seats are up for grabs in the competition, which is an online contest that is free to enter.

The game runs throughout the track’s Championship Meeting and concludes on Hambletonian Day, Saturday, August 6.

For complete information, go to https://playmeadowlands.com/event/summer-survival-challenge/

DERBY DAY COUNTDOWN: One of the biggest days of the year on the horse racing – and all of sports – calendar is the first Saturday in May, when the Kentucky Derby takes place at Churchill Downs.

Meadowlands’ regulars know that watching and wagering on the “Run for the Roses” in The Big M’s expansive simulcast area is the way to go.

The 148th running of The Derby takes place on May 7. Doors at The Meadowlands open at 9 a.m., with the first race at Churchill heading to the gate at 10:30 a.m. Live harness racing begins at 6:20 p.m., with the Kentucky Derby scheduled for 6:57 p.m.

There are numerous dining options for Derby Day at The Big M. For complete information, go to https://playmeadowlands.com/event/2022-kentucky-derby-simulcast-day/

GOOD EATS: When you come out and bet on the races, have a sumptuous meal at the same time at the two outstanding buffet restaurants at The Meadowlands, Pink and Trotters.

The Friday buffet, priced at $49.95, features main courses that include salmon baked in sea salt, chicken milanese and italian meatballs.

On Saturday, which costs $64.95, diners can feast on peppercorn crusted prime rib, chicken cacciatore and salmon with a dill-mustard sauce.

Don’t forget to make reservations for this Friday and/or Saturday, Kentucky Derby Day or any day during the Championship Meeting by calling 201-THE-BIG M. For a look at complete menus, go to https://playmeadowlands.com/dine/pink/

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.

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) and Edison Hatter (@Edison_1999_).

A HALF-DOZEN CHANCES: 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

NBA ACTION IN “THE BOOK”: The FanDuel Sportsbook is the top facility of its type in the world, but Meadowlands fans already knew that, because “The Book” is located inside the grandstand at The Big M.

The NBA Playoffs roll on Thursday (April 21) with a featured matchup sure to excite hoops fans. The Golden State Warriors travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets and defending league MVP Nikola Jokic in a 10 p.m. start. Golden State is a 2½-point road favorite who are -142 on the money line. The under/over is 223½.

The sportsbook is open for business 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.