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MAY WAS MARVELOUS AT THE MEADOWLANDS

Thursday, June 3, 2021

One year ago, with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing its grip on not only harness racing, but all aspects of life as we once knew it, it was scary to think what might happen to the game. 

Remarkably, the sport has seen a resurgence as coronavirus restrictions have slowly eased. In fact, last weekend (May 28-29) was the first since March 7 of last year to see The Meadowlands at full capacity. 

“One year ago, there was no racing due to the pandemic,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “Perhaps we will look back years from now and might say May of 2021 was the comeback from the pandemic. And a month for the record books.” 

The increases seen during the nine May programs over the comparable race cards from 2019 are startling. 

The month started strong as Sat., May 1 saw the second-highest total handle of 2021 as $4,451,363 was pushed through the windows, an incredible $1.8 million more than was bet on the corresponding 2019 program. (Saturday’s average per race of $342,412 was a yearly high.) 

All nine race cards during May saw wagering of over $3 million and an increase of at least $500,000 over the corresponding programs from two years ago. Five programs saw the increase exceed $1 million. 

“What can you say?” said Settlemoir. “Saturday handle in May averaged almost $4 million a night ($3.993 million). The 50-cent Pick-4 and 20-cent Pick-5 were over $100,000. The 20-cent Pick-6 handled over $31,000 on Saturday (May 29) without a carryover. The GSY Amateur Series races handled over $293,000 on race one and $286,000 on race five, respectively, on Friday (May 28). Our racing has been spectacular and everything we do right now is getting an enormous response from the horseplayers around the world.” 

Total handle during May was $32.9 million, good for an average per card of $3,664,022. The average per race was $274,801. When compared to the same month in 2019, total wagering was up $9.7 million, average handle increased $1 million and the average per race was $74,875 higher. 

“Standardbred racing is rolling right now,” said Settlemoir. “Handle at The Meadowlands is blowing up and Woodbine Mohawk Park is getting ready to resume and everyone is excited about that. On Sunday (May 30) night, Hawthorne, Northfield and Philadelphia all saw wagering of over $1 million. It’s an exciting time for the sport as we roll into the stakes season.” 

BELMONT STAKES SIMULCAST: The 153rd running of The Belmont Stakes is Saturday, and those who want to watch and wager on “The Test of the Champion” – named because of its grueling 1½-mile distance – can do so at The Meadowlands, home of one of the top simulcast facilities in the country. 

The first of 13 races on the card kicks off at 11:35 a.m. The Belmont Stakes, where Essential Quality is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the eight-horse field, is race 11 and has a post time of 6:49 p.m. 

WALK-UP AND BET: For those who would like to bet The Belmont Stakes but are short on time, they can stop by and wager fast at The Big M’s walk-up window on Saturday. 

The walk-up window is located in Lot M off of Berry’s Creek Road (follow the signs), and wagering will be available from 10:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Past performances will be available.  

CHECK OUT DAVE AND DAVE: Make that Brower and “The Mad Hatter”. 

While the Big M’s usual TV duo of Dave Brower and Dave Little will be on hand to take racing fans through the Saturday program, Meadowlands regulars will get to see a new face on Friday. 

Edison Hatter, the 21-year-old track announcer at Freehold and Rosecroft Raceways, who has been a staple of late doing Big M commentary on TVG’s live telecasts, will be on set alongside Brower Friday night. 

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. 

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

GET YOUR FREE PROGRAMS, HERE! 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 playmeadowlands.com to get your no-cost past performances. 

A $100,000 PROMISE: Every night, The Meadowlands promises big money on both editions of its signature wager, as each 50-cent Pick-4 – which begin in races 6 and 10, respectively – sports a guaranteed pool of $50,000. 

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). 

WHO DOES BROWER LIKE? For those who like 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. 

PLAYOFFS HEAT UP: The NBA and NHL playoffs continue to roll along, and Meadowlands regulars can get all of their hoops, hockey and Major League Baseball action at one of the leading sportsbooks in the country, The FanDuel Sportsbook at The Big M. 

For those who think the Brooklyn Nets – and their “Big 3” of Harden, Irving and Durant – are going to keep on winning as they take on the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Semifinals, they can get the Nets to win the series at -200. If you like the underdog Bucks, your price would be +160. 

But the major sports are not all one can wager on. Bettors can also play professional golf’s Memorial Tournament and one of professional tennis’ four majors, The French Open. 

The sportsbook is open Sunday-Friday from 10 a.m.-midnight and Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 a.m. The cash counter is open from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. 


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