They came to play. Meadowlands fans wagered with both hands throughout Saturday night’s 13-race program and despite only two horses paying $10 or more and six races that saw favorites emerge victorious, the betting swelled to a new 2018 high.
For the first time this year, wagering surpassed the magic $3 million mark. In fact, it wasn’t merely surpassed, it was smashed.
The all-source total handle of $3,454,633 easily outdistanced the industry handle leader's previous 2018 best, which was $2,790,201 on Jan. 27. The corresponding race card a year ago saw $2,581,495 bet on 12 races.
The on-track, on-product play totaled $296,916.
The Pick-5 carryover of $30,202 served as a catalyst for not only that wager, but for the entire night, as $230,199 in "new money" was poured into the Pick-5 pot. The third race, which is the first leg of the bet, saw $422,271 in total play.
After a formful sequence that saw the odds of the winners come back 7-2, 7-2, 6-5, 3-1 and even-money, many winning Pick-5 tickets for $541.70 were cashed after the total pool of over $260,000 was divvied up.
But there was more.
The 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 once again saw big play (a total pool of $20,005), and, once again, it resulted in a ‘jackpot’ as one lucky winner, betting into the Portland, Ore. hub, walked away with $17,000.54 after surviving seven legs.
The Early 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five resulted in a single-ticket winner, and that patron, wagering into the Maryland hub, cashed in for $7,622.70 at the conclusion of the ninth race.
About the only big pot not raked belonged to the Late 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five (Race 13), which once again failed to produce a single-ticket winner. That wager’s carryover now stands at $126,952.
Awesomeness lived up to his name, controlling the action from start to finish to win the featured $20,000 Preferred Handicap for pacers.
The Brett Pelling-trainee gave notice a week ago he’d have a big mile on tap, getting roughed up and racing with a broken headpole and winning nonetheless against a slightly weaker field. This time, back at the highest level the Big M offers, the 5-year-old gelded son of Mach Three emerged on the front end after a five-horse scrum into the first turn, cut out fractions of :26.4, :54 and 1:22.1 before sprinting home in :28 to record a three-quarter-length win for driver Jim Marohn Jr. and owner Martin Scharf.
Awesomeness hit the wire in 1:50.1, just a fifth of a second off his lifetime best. Dr J Hanover was second with JK Will Power finishing third. Western Joe, the 5-2 second choice who was seeking his third straight score with this kind, opted to race from the rear and closed to get fourth.
The winner paid $4.20 as the even-money favorite and now has 15 wins in 37 lifetime tries, with earnings of just over $235,000.
Marohn and Yannick Gingras both recorded driving triples on the card while Pelling and Bob Lounsbury had training doubles. (Meadowlands)