You could say the Kentucky Derby--and the return to the races of a Dan Patch Horse of the Year--justify why it was such a big day at the Meadowlands on Saturday, May 5.
It all began with the first race at Churchill Downs beginning 90 minutes before lunchtime and was still going strong as Bob Baffert's Justify took the 144th Kentucky Derby at almost 7 p.m.
It was then time for a superb Meadowlands program, and the 11 races saw two divisions of the Graduate Series as well as the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, which was highlighted by the return of 2017 HOTY Hannelore Hanover, who overcame post position 12 to win her seasonal debut.
"All of us at the Meadowlands would like to thank everyone for coming out on Derby Day and making the day–and night–such a success," said Jason Settlemoir, the track's chief operating officer and general manager.
Wagering on the live Big M card came close to reaching the magic $3 million mark, but came up just short, at $2.95 million.
"But on the three occasions when we have bet $3 million this year," said Settlemoir. "We had at least 12 races on the program. Because last Saturday had an 11-race card, our average wagered per race was $268,253, which is our 2018 high."
The Cutler and Graduate's two divisions all had full (or overflow) fields and were contested at a mile and an eighth. The public bet them with both hands, as a total of $897,012 was wagered on the three added-distance events.
Harness racing's biggest carryover continues to impress, as those who want to take a shot at the Late Jackpot Super High-Five Friday night will have a chance to walk away with a payoff of better than $215,668 for a 20-cent bet.