Meadowlands looks to keep betting on a roll
January 07, 2021
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With the stars in perfect alignment, wagering at the Meadowlands has been booming of late. In fact, with the track dark each of the last two holiday-season Fridays, the Saturdays (Dec. 26 and Jan. 2) that followed saw cumulative handle batter the $8-million barrier.
After $3.7 million – the fourth-highest day or night of business during 2020 – was pushed through the windows Dec. 26, an incredible $4.5 million was put in play on Jan. 2, which sets a high bar to leap over on a “non-event” card during 2021.
Last Saturday’s program started with a loud bang and the noise kept on coming as players fired away for all 15 races. The first race 20-cent Pick-5 had a well-publicized carryover and $150,000 guaranteed pool that ended up with a total pool of just over $360,000. In addition, because the $46,000 carryover was not subject to the already low 15 percent takeout, bettors got back precisely 99.87 percent of the Pick-5 action, instead of the usual 85 percent.
“The Meadowlands is offering horseplayers a challenging and beatable game featuring low takeout and large pools driving the insatiable demand for these wagers,” said Meadowlands’ chief operating officer and general manager Jason Settlemoir. “We thank horseplayers around the world for their increasingly positive response to New Jersey racing at The Meadowlands.”
Big pools were the norm throughout the Saturday card. Four times during the program betting on a single race exceeded the $300,000 mark, with the first-race total of $565,076 representing the evening’s most vigorous play on a single dash.
“Historically speaking,” said Settlemoir. “Wagering over $300,000 a race without a stakes event on the program is completely off the charts. We are proud of everyone at The Big M who worked so hard to make a $4.5-million night possible. With no racing either of the last two Fridays, there was obviously a large demand for the Saturday program, and, fortunately for us, the momentum from the last Saturday in December carried over into the first Saturday of January. Another factor was our media relations people helping to fuel a social media fire that burned all night long.”
Other big Saturday pools included the track’s two signature Pick 4s, which averaged $111,597 per pool, as well as the mile oval’s always popular Exacta, that averaged better than $84,000 a pop. Total Exacta play for the night was better than $1.25 million.
“The Pick-5 carryover of $46,000 brought everyone to the party early,” said Settlemoir. “The Pick-5 pool grew to $360,000 and the first race handle of $565,000 could possibly be a Meadowlands record for an opening race. In addition, now that we are offering free program pages on all Big M races, that provides something else that appeals to our regular customers and may bring us some new clientele as well, and, during the winter months, we have moved our post time to 6 p.m. In essence, we have traded the 11 p.m.-to-midnight hour for the 6-7 p.m. hour. We certainly are happy with the overwhelming response from our racing fans the last two weeks.”
The Big M’s six 15 percent takeout wagers accounted for 14 percent of the evening’s action on Saturday, with a total of over $650,000. In addition to the Pick-5 and two Pick-4s, players can also choose to get in on the track’s 20-cent Survivor Pick-7, 20-cent Pick-6 and 10-cent Hi-Five.
Given the tremendous success of one week ago, Big M management – along with the Standardbred Owners Association of New Jersey – will provide $25,000 in seed money and a $100,000 guaranteed pool for the Saturday night 20-cent Pick-5 wager.
In addition – on both Friday and Saturday night – each 50-cent Pick-4 (which begin in races six and race 10, respectively) have guaranteed pools of $50,000. (Meadowlands)