Derby weekend at Big M was a decade in the making

East Rutherford, NJ — Saturday (May 1) night’s handle at The Meadowlands was a sensational $4,451,363, to come within $100,000 of the track’s biggest night of action during 2021.

It’s not a coincidence that the big action occurred on Kentucky Derby Day, which, for many fans, is their favorite day of the year to come out and play. Betting at The Big M was huge by a historical perspective not only last Saturday, but all of last weekend, when one compares the numbers to 10 years prior.

During Kentucky Derby Weekend 2011, The Meadowlands’ wagering menu offered only one bet with a low 15 percent takeout. Over the course of those 23 races, total handle was $3,304,912, good for an average per race of $143,691.

This past weekend, those numbers exploded. For 26 races, the total handle was $7,967,639, by far the biggest weekend of play at the mile oval this year. The average wager per race was $306,447. As a point of comparison, to bet $3 million over a 13-race card, the average per race must be $230,769.

“When our first race went off on Derby Day,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir, “most of the top Thoroughbred tracks were still going and we still handled almost $400,000. The Derby went 25 minutes later and set the tone for the rest of our live program. The excitement in our building was simply electric all day and night.”

A look at the “now and then” of some of the track’s more popular pools reveal huge gains. In 2011, there was one Pick-4 per card, and the handle was $75,000 Friday and $30,958 Saturday during Derby Weekend. There was no Pick-5 and the Pick-6 took in $880 and $747, respectively.

Fast forward to last Friday and Saturday, when the track’s 15 percent takeout bets took in big action. The Early Pick-4s had total play of $106,305 and $125,605, the Late Pick-4s $90,838 and $135,377, the Pick-5s $83,774 and $85,416 and the Pick-6s $46,618 and $19,733.

“We have certainly learned to respond to the consensus of horseplayers,” said Settlemoir. “They wanted lower takeouts and we gave them a wide assortment of wagers as low as 15 percent. They wanted more multi-race action, so we adjusted our wagering menu. Judging by our results this year, the horseplayers have responded in huge numbers to our product, and they love the fact that we are listening to them.”

As a result, three single-race pools exceeded $400,000 Saturday night, including race eight, when a 2021-best $498,525 was pushed through the windows.

“We had a $100,000 win pool and a $150,000 exacta pool Saturday, which is simply extraordinary,” said Settlemoir. “Before Gov. (Phil) Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature stepped in to give an enormous boost to New Jersey racing, these numbers would have been unthinkable. With their help, The Meadowlands and New Jersey have risen once again to be the most popular nighttime signal of any breed.”

Low Takeout, High Handle: The Big M offers players six opportunities every night to make a score betting on the track’s popular wagers that offer a low 15 percent takeout. They are:

  • Race 1: 20-cent Pick-5
  • Race 3: 20-cent Survivor Pick-7
  • Race 6: 50-cent Pick-4
  • Race 8: 20-cent Pick-6
  • Race 10: 50-cent Pick-4
  • Race 13: 10-cent Hi-5/Pentafecta

Guaranteed Green: Every night, The Meadowlands promises big money on both editions of its signature wager, as each 50-cent Pick-4 sports a guaranteed pool of $50,000.

Lately, the guarantees have led to some serious action, as 12 of the last 14 Pick-4 pools have gone past the $100,000 mark.

No Money, No Problem! Need a program but don’t want to spend any green?

The Big M has you covered, with free programs of every race of every race card. Just go to to get your no-cost past performances.

Get Social, Not Distant: You can always check in with the team at The Meadowlands on Twitter.

For early changes, racing information and staff selections, go to @themeadowlands or #playbigm.

On race nights, stay in touch with the Big M’s Dave Brower (@eedoogie), Dave Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Ken Warkentin (@kenvoiceover) and Jessica Otten (@JessicaOtten1).

Get Ready To Play: For those who like to get a leg up on the action, go to to see track oddsmaker and analyst Brower’s selections and commentary. Click on the “handicapping” tab and go to “race reviews.”

Brower’s input is generally available 48 hours before every card.

The Schedule: Live racing continues every Friday and Saturday with a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m.

Big M TV’s live “Racing from The Meadowlands” pre-game show, which provides news, notes, features, staff selections and a look at that evening’s marquee races, gets underway at 5:47 p.m.

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