East Rutherford, NJ — As the weather warms and perennials reappear, hope springs eternal, and nowhere in harness racing is that more evident than at the mecca of the sport, The Meadowlands.
The Big M is closing out winter on a roll and hopes to continue that momentum with spring due to arrive this Wednesday (March 20).
Wagering at the mile oval exceeded $3 million for the fourth time in 2019 last Saturday (March 9) as $3,175,007 was put in play, marking the fourth time this year that betting exceeded that magic mark. At this time a year ago, the $3-million plateau had been reached only once.
“We’ve been able to put up big handle numbers thanks to our horsemen, who have supported our entry box,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “Our fans like betting into big fields, which, in part, is due to the increased purses we have been able to offer thanks to the governor and legislators. Purses are due for another bump up in April, so New Jersey is a great place to race. All of us at the Meadowlands are optimistic that the best is yet to come.”
With the track’s “Championship Meeting” about a month away, featuring races like the July 13 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace and the granddaddy of them all, the Aug. 3 Hambletonian, things are indeed blooming at the mile oval.
Two Tracks, Pick-4: Harness racing’s two biggest tracks are combining forces for what they hope is the sport’s next big thing, the Can-Am Pick-4. The wager consists of two races at the Meadowlands and two at Woodbine Mohawk Park. It will offer a 20-cent minimum and a low 15 percent takeout.
Thoroughbred racing has seen success with bets like the Stronach 5 and NYRA Cross Country, and the Meadowlands and Woodbine Entertainment hope to create some added interest in both tracks with harness racing’s version of a multi-track, multi-leg wager when the bet debuts on Friday (March 22). The CAP4 will be offered on Friday nights.
Jump Into The Pool: On Saturday’s card, some notable pools included the exacta ($98,542) and trifecta ($72,185) in the first race, the superfecta ($41,183) in the fourth, and, as usual, the popular 50-cent Pick-4 ($100,470), which reached six figures for a fifth straight time in the eighth.
Twice on the program, single-race wagering topped $339,000. Those races were the first (leg one of the 50-cent Pick-5) and eighth (leg one of the Pick-4).
Fans of the 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Five have a pair of sizable carryovers to shoot for when racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. In the fifth race, $63,647 awaits, while the 14th race pot will start out at $25,576.
On the driving end of things, it was business as usual for two of the game’s greats last weekend, as Yannick Gingras had seven wins and Tim Tetrick six.
Ron Burke and Jeff Cullipher were the top trainers with three victories apiece.
Green With Envy: On Friday (March 15), celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at the Big M by filling out the entry form in the live program (or by visiting the track level Players Club desk) and entering the track’s “Go Green For Greenbacks” drawings. Every time a driver with green in his colors wins, two lucky patrons will receive $50 betting vouchers.
St. Paddy’s Day dining specials will include corned beef and cabbage, green beer and Irish coffee.
Pink restaurant will offer a St. Patrick’s Day buffet featuring potato and leek soup, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips and corned beef and cabbage.
The buffet costs $29.95. Call 201.THE.BIGM for reservations.
A 5-Course Dinner…And Beer! On Saturday (March 16), Pink restaurant will host a fabulous five-course beer dinner. Each course will be paired with a beer from Long Island’s Blue Point Brewing Co. that goes perfectly with the food.
The price is $49.95 and reservations are required. Please call 201.843.2446.
Last WHHC Chance: Your final opportunity to qualify at the Meadowlands for the World Harness Handicapping Championship — presented by www.DerbyWars.com — takes place on Saturday (March 16).
It’s $200 to enter and you could win a seat in the April 13 WHHC final. For complete information, click here.
Get Ready For Mayhem: Tuesday (March 19) marks the start of the NCAA college basketball tournament. Head to the Big M’s FanDuel Sportsbook to watch and wager on all of the games.