Aussie Andy taking Big M break

East Rutherford, NJ – Andy McCarthy is currently leading the driver colony at the Meadowlands with 30 wins and admits it “would be nice to be the leading driver at the Meadowlands without a doubt,” but a final opportunity – for a while anyway – to visit his homeland will find McCarthy’s name missing from the Big M program for two or three months after this week’s race cards have concluded.

Meadowlands’ leading driver Andy McCarthy guided Escapetothebeach to win the $173,800 Kindergarten Classic Final for 2-year-old colts and geldings on the pace on Nov. 3, 2018 at the Big M. Lisa Photo.

“I’ll be back in February or March,” said McCarthy. “But my oldest son (4-year-old) Finn starts school next year, so I’ve got to make the most of it.”

McCarthy, wife Katrina, Finn and youngest son, 2-year-old Olly, will be making a trip home to Australia to visit McCarthy’s mom, dad and siblings, who live near Sydney.

“I’m not much of a cold-weather person,” said McCarthy, 32, of the current chilly conditions in New Jersey. “It’s summertime down there. We hang out at the beaches quite a bit. Looking forward to enjoying life a little bit.”

McCarthy will get an opportunity to pad his lead in the standings before he goes, as he’s listed to drive seven horses on Thursday (Dec. 13) and 10 more on Friday (Dec. 14).

SETTLEMOIR TO CALL: Big M Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir, who called his first race at the age of 12 in his native Ohio, is the next man up on the second of four “Borrow Ken’s Binoculars” Thursdays at the Meadowlands, as guest announcers fill in for the voice of the Big M, Ken Warkentin, on Thursday nights during December.

NO RACING ON SATURDAY: During December, racing will be conducted on a Thursday through Saturday basis at the Big M with the usual 7:15 p.m. post time. But there is one exception: This Saturday (Dec. 15) with the New York Jets hosting the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium, there will be no live racing at the Meadowlands. Kickoff is 4:30 p.m.

CAN YOU PICK WINNERS? On Saturday (Dec. 22), the Big M is hosting a handicapping tournament and patrons are sure to love the entry fee: Nothing!

The rules: Each participant makes mythical $2 across-the-board wagers (win, place and show) on selections for races two through 10 at the Meadowlands. Contestants must make their mythical selections prior to the second race on the official contest entry form and turn them into a contest official.

If a horse is scratched, the participant receives the post-time favorite, and if the Meadowlands cancels due to inclement weather, the contest is cancelled. The winner will be determined by the highest total mythical bankroll at the conclusion of the 10th race and will receive a $1,300 spot in the World Harness Handicapping Championship Final on April 6, 2019.

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