East Rutherford, NJ — Since the start of 2021, The Meadowlands has been experimenting with an earlier-than-usual post time of 6 p.m. and the undertaking has proven extremely successful over the first eight weeks of the year.
“The idea was, during the COVID-19 era, people were not staying up late,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “And shifting players’ attention from the late-night races (that take place from 11 p.m.-midnight) and moving those eyes to the hour from 6-7 p.m. was worth trying. The early post time created a new dynamic, starting with our pre-game show, which gets underway at 5:27 p.m.”
On a typical weekend, after the Gulfstream Park races end, the Late Pick-4 at Santa Anita and The Meadowlands’ 20-cent Pick-5 kick off the nighttime action for both Standardbred and Thoroughbred players around the world.
“As a result,” said Settlemoir, “the top Thoroughbred hubs wagered 45 percent more on The Meadowlands last Saturday (Feb. 20) than they did as compared to the comparable Saturday in 2020.”
Last week, The Big M’s streak of betting at least $3.4 million on Saturdays stayed intact, as action has exceeded that number on all eight occasions in 2021. Last Saturday’s all-source total of $3,871,820 — an increase of $1.1 million over the comparable card from last year — was the fifth-highest night of business this year. The per race average was $258,121. The lofty $3.8 million figure was reached three times during all of 2020.
The Big M’s signature wager, the 50-cent Pick-4, has seen the most prolific pools of the season, with an average of $94,857 in total action each time the wager takes place, which is twice a night, beginning nightly in the sixth and 10th races, respectively.
The 20-cent Pick-5 — which averages $88,540 in total play — always gets the night off to a good start in the first race. The last two Saturdays were right on the number as $88,541 (Feb. 20) and $86,011 (Feb. 13) were wagered, respectively, serving as the catalyst for superb race one overall total pools of $389,159 and $367,134, respectively.
“The Meadowlands has made an increased effort to keep the horseplayer in action longer with low-takeout and low-minimum bets,” said Settlemoir. “The player response has been sensational, resulting in the largest pools we have seen in over a decade. The larger players can now freely bet larger amounts, knowing the pools are big enough to play into, fueled by average field size, which is at 9.56.
“The early post has exposed more Thoroughbred players to The Meadowlands signal. This new dynamic has created an average handle of $3,455,779 per night, far surpassing every night time signal of any breed in North America.”
Simulcast Heaven: For those who love betting the runners as well as the pacers and trotters, the featured simulcast action offered at The Big M on Saturday will be from Florida’s Gulfstream Park, which has a spectacular card in store.
The 14-race program will feature nine events with purses of $100,000 or more, with the feature being the Grade 2, $300,000 Fountain of Youth at a mile and a sixteenth for 3-year-olds who are Kentucky Derby hopefuls. Post time for the first race at Gulfstream is 11:30 a.m. The Fountain of Youth is race 14 and has a post time of 6:10 p.m.
Get Social: 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), Shades Demsky (@shadesonracing) and Jessica Otten (@JessicaOtten1).
Free PPs For All: Thanks to an agreement between The Meadowlands and TrackMaster, past performances for every race of every Big M program are now available at no cost.
To access the free PPs, go to playmeadowlands.com.
$100,000 Guaranteed: Every night, The Meadowlands guarantees big green on both editions of its signature wager, as each 50-cent Pick-4 sports a $50,000 guaranteed pool.
Check Out The Picks: For those who need to get a leg up on the action, go to playmeadowlands.com 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.
Additionally, track announcer Warkentin’s blog is available on the site and offers his picks and analysis.
The Schedule: Live racing at The Meadowlands takes place every Friday and Saturday evening. Post time is 6 p.m.
The track’s live “Racing from the Meadowlands” pre-game show begins at 5:27 p.m.
Can’t Make It To The Track? There are several options for those who would rather catch the action from The Big M at home.
Racing fans can watch all the races live on the Roberts Television Network (rtn.tv). In addition, they can watch and wager by going to the Television Games Network (tvg.com) or their favorite Advance Deposit Wagering site (ADW).