Thursday, June 6, 2024

Business has a tendency to boom at all racetracks on days when Triple Crown events take place, and at no place is that more evident than at The Meadowlands.

Based on the returns, Thoroughbred bettors were happy to hang around after the big race of the day and plunk down some serious green on The Big M’s live harness product.

Business at The Meadowlands continued to surge during the month of May, thanks to large, competitive fields, the biggest pools in the sport and the emergence of stars headlining the Championship Meet.

Wagering on Kentucky Derby Day and Preakness Day illustrates those gains, as action on those two evenings was off the charts.

Betting on Derby Day (May 4) Meadowlands races totaled $3,870,638, the biggest single-card handle at the track – and the sport – this year. Two weeks later, a total of $3,584,311 was pushed through the windows after the Preakness card (May 18) was complete, the ninth time during 2024 that wagering went past the $3.5-million mark.

It’s no wonder that expectations are high for this Saturday (June 8), when Saratoga Race Course plays host to the 156th running of the Belmont Stakes, which, of course, will be at the top of players’ lists of tracks to play in The Big M’s expansive simulcast area.

The first of 14 races at Saratoga gets underway at 10:45 a.m. The Belmont is race 12 and has a post time of 6:41 p.m. and can be seen on FOX Sports. The Big M simulcast area will open at 9:45 a.m.

The race shapes up as a marvelous three-way matchup with Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan (5-1 morning-line odds) and Preakness champ Seize the Grey (8-1) taking on Sierra Leone, who is the early favorite at odds of 9-5.

THE MARKET IS UP: Wagering on the nine Meadowlands programs in May totaled $29,621,969, for a nightly average of $3,291,329. That breaks down to an average per race of $235,094.

In addition, action during May saw a gain of over $300,000 per night over the same month a year ago.

What might be the best indicator of how well things have been from a business perspective at The Big M this year is the fact that in a difficult environment for the sport, The Meadowlands is thriving.

According to numbers on the United States Trotting Association website (, betting on harness races is down while action at The Big M is up.

The USTA’s “Economic indicators on U.S. races” showed that through June 3, wagering on harness racing during 2024 was down 4.83 percent. Action at The Big M, off a “Gural-Settlemoir Era” record-setting 2023, is up 1.57 percent. A year ago, betting per night averaged $3.087 million.

Through 43 race cards in 2023, total betting at The Meadowlands was $132,965,232, good for an average of $3.092 million.

Thus far in 2024, through 43 programs, wagering has totaled $135,057,933, which calculates to $3.140 million per card.

“All of us at The Meadowlands are grateful to be able to say business is up over last year,” said Big M Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “We owe so much to our loyal fan base who always appreciate betting our product, our race office for carding competitive races, our horsemen for supporting the entry box and our employees for presenting an atmosphere where the patron can come for a great night of entertainment, and that goes for people who like betting on the races, as well as those who don’t.”

WHATTA WEEKEND: On what was a perfect-weather weekend, on May 31 and June 1, patrons were treated to great performances and great fun.

First was Friday, when a pair of $240,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes finals for 3-year-olds on the trot took place. French Champagne took the dash for fillies and the incomparable Karl won the division for colts and geldings.

In addition, Friday night saw bragging rights realized in the fifth annual Sportscasters Charity Derby. SNY’s Chelsea Sherrod and PIX11’s Perry Sook emerged victorious in their respective divisions, earning $5,000 for their charities, courtesy of The Meadowlands. Sherrod was representing Grow Our Game while Sook was racing for St. Barnabus Hospital Health System.

Saturday night saw the remarkable Oakwood Ardan IR win for the ninth time in 10 tries since coming to the U.S. from Great Britain, taking down Primary Colors and Allywag Hanover in 1:48.3. The evening also saw a huge crowd watch 10 divisions plus a final of the track’s sixth annual Wiener Dog Derby.

BREAKFAST WITH THE BABIES: If you want to come out and watch the stars of the future, head to the track this Saturday (June 8) at 9 a.m. for Breakfast with the Babies.

Sponsored by Jules Siegel’s Fashion Farms, fans, horsemen and owners are invited to come out and enjoy a continental breakfast and beverages. In addition, programs will be provided to all those watching the 2-year-old baby races. The action will be live streamed via The Meadowlands website, and the voice of The Big M, Ken Warkentin, will be on the microphone from the announcer’s booth. It’s all free and fun and everyone is invited to attend.

Qualifier and baby race proofs are available at

THE GREAT EIGHT: The Meadowlands’ appetizing betting menu is now a little tastier with the addition of a second 20-cent Pick-5, joining the pair of 50-cent Pick-4s already on the bill of fare.

There are eight wagers nightly that offer a chance for players to make a big hit while betting into big pools that offer a low takeout of just 15 percent. Here is the lineup:

  • Races 1-5: Early 20-cent Pick-5
  • Races 2-8: 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 (mandatory payout nightly)
  • Races 4-9: 20-cent Pick-6
  • Races 6-9: Early 50-cent Pick-4 ($50,000 guaranteed pool)
  • Race 7: 10-cent Pentafecta (Hi-5)
  • Races 8-12: Late 20-cent Pick-5
  • Races 10-13: Late 50-cent Pick-4 ($50,000 guaranteed pool)
  • Race 11:10-cent Pentafecta (Hi-5)

CAN YOU WIN 5 GRAND? On Saturday (June 8), The Meadowlands will host a handicapping contest that has a prize pool of $5,000. Players must be onsite to participate.

What you need to know:

  • You must purchase a $100 betting card, with purchase (cash only) required at contest check-in
  • Entry includes live racing program
  • 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 (no Exacta boxes)
  • Maximum two horses per race betting Exacta; one horse per race WPS
  • Contestants keep all pari-mutuel winnings
  • Unlimited entries allowed per person
  • Contest check-in begins at 5 p.m. at the Clubhouse Main Entrance Lobby

Prizes: 1st: $2,000; 2nd: $1,250; 3rd: $1,000; 4th: $500; 5th: $250

THE SKED: Live racing takes place every Friday and Saturday at The Meadowlands with a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m.

The Big M’s live “Racing from The Meadowlands” pregame show begins every racing night at 5:45 p.m.

On Friday, The Big M TV “A”-team of Dave Little and Jessica Otten will be providing news, notes and selections from the Sam McKee Memorial Broadcast Set.

DRF Harness Editor Derick Giwner will sit alongside Little for Saturday’s presentation.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO WIN A CAR? When you come to The Meadowlands, you can make a score at the windows. But now, you could also walk away with a brand new 2024 Toyota Camry LE AWD by participating in the track’s HorsePlay Giveaway, which takes place every race day until Friday, Aug. 2.

The HorsePlay Giveaway is sponsored by Purple Haze Stables.

For complete information, and to enter this extremely popular promotion, go here.

SURVIVAL UPDATE: The Meadowlands Summer Survival Challenge, powered by 123Racing, kicked off on Friday, May 3. Cash prizes and Meadowlands swag are up for grabs in this free online contest.

The game covers the Meadowlands Championship Meet and will conclude on Saturday, Aug. 3.

Currently, Ryebread64 leads the way in the Challenge with $330.20, followed by Boonners Stable ($302.10) and FRiggitano ($295.90).

As for most winners, there is a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard, as Ryebread64, yankee22 and Boonners Stable have 15 apiece.

What the players are shooting for:

The grand prize is $750 plus a Breeders Crown Night at the Races package

The second-place prize is $500 plus Meadowlands swag

The third-place prize is $250 plus Meadowlands swag

Most Winners selected: $200 plus Meadowlands swag

Highest monthly bankroll (May, June, July): $100 plus Meadowlands swag

The deadline for selections each day is 30 minutes before the 6:20 p.m. post time for the first race; 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3. After 30 minutes to post, all selections are final.

For further information, 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 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 Otten (@JessicaOtten1), Little (@DaveLittleBigM) and Warkentin (@kenvoiceover).

RALLIS’ RACE REVIEWS: For some help with your handicapping, check out the race reviews of The Big M’s morning-line odds maker and program analyst, John Rallis.

Rallis’ reviews are available 48 hours before a given card, and all one has to do to access the information is go to, go to the “handicapping” tab, then click “race reviews.”

NO JUNE SWOON: The Meadowlands has a handful of great events going on during the month of June. What better way is there to spend a night at the races and enjoy a great meal at the same time?

On Saturday, June 15, there is a five-course Caribbean cocktail pairing, featuring a menu crafted by Executive Chef Chris Burnett and cocktails created by Food and Beverage Manager Luis Zuniga.

The cost is $69.95 per person (plus tax and gratuity) and each reservation includes a live racing program plus a $10 betting voucher.

For more information, go here.

BBQ EXTRAVAGANZA: Also on Saturday, June 15, come out for some great barbecue food at The Big M.

Chow down on some delicious barbecue from the best food trucks and restaurants in the area. The event takes place from 5-11 p.m.

Vendors can compete for $2,500 in prize money (details below):

  • Four prize categories – chicken, pulled pork, brisket, ribs and people’s choice ($500 top prize in each category)
  • Open to area food trucks and restaurants
  • To register: email
  • A $100 entry fee must be paid before June 15th
  • Entrants must be ready to sell by 4 p.m. and can sell any food items in addition to BBQ.
  • Entrants must prepare six plates for judging. Turn-in times: Chicken at 7 p.m., pulled pork at 7:30 p.m., brisket at 8 p.m. and ribs at 8:30 p.m. Winners will be announced at 9 p.m.
  • For more information, email

STOP THAT WHINING: On Saturday, June 22, come out to The Meadowlands for Winefest, with over 30 participating producers and dozens of varietals.

Festival highlights include wines from around the globe and DJ ALX.

For more information, go here.

BYRNE BRAWL: Join The Meadowlands and ISPW on Saturday, June 29, for the first-ever Brendan Byrne Brawl.

This live pro wrestling event features seven action-packed matches.

The family friendly event begins at 7 p.m., and matches will include Crowbar vs. ISPW Champion Rey Calitri as well as Big Vito vs. Rick Recon.

Matches will take place between the live harness races, with general admission tickets priced at $20 and VIP tickets to be sold for $100. VIP tickets include admission for four with seats at a picnic table next to the ring.

BET THE FINALS IN 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 NBA Finals begin Thursday (June 6) as the Dallas Mavericks travel to Boston to take on the Celtics in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series at 8:30 p.m.

Boston, the -225 favorite to win the title, are a 6½-point favorite (-245 on the money line) in the game that has an under/over of 215½ points.

The Stanley Cup Final begins on Saturday (June 8) with the Edmonton Oilers taking on the Florida Panthers in the best-of-seven series.

Game 1 is in Florida and the puck will drop at 8 p.m. The Panthers, -130 to take the series, are a -137 favorite (+188 minus a puck-and-a-half) in the game that has an under/over of 5½ goals.

In Major League Baseball, the red-hot New York Yankees take on the Minnesota Twins on Thursday at 7:06 p.m. The Yankees are a -144 favorite in the game that has an under/over of 8½ 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.