It was June of last year when The Meadowlands reopened after a three-month shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And when it did, there was little certainty.
“We opened with no fans on site and had no idea how our product would be received by a betting public that had been through so much,” said Jason Settlemoir, Meadowlands' Chief Operating Officer and General Manager. “But as we move into the 2021 holiday season, New Jersey and The Meadowlands are standing tall. Breeding is up big time and handle is approaching $270 million for the 2021 racing season, a standard of excellence that has been made possible with the help of Gov. [Phil] Murphy and the New Jersey State Legislature.”
Obviously, The Big M’s loyal following has played a huge part.
“We could not have had the type of year that we’ve had without the loyal horseplayers around the world throwing their support behind The Meadowlands product,” said Settlemoir.
During 2021, nightly average handle on Meadowlands live races is more than $3 million.
“The only nighttime track of any breed to reach that figure,” said Settlemoir. “And with three nights of live racing remaining this year, it is very likely that our total handle will show an increase of over $100 million as compared to 2018. That season immediately preceded the Governor signing the bill in February of 2019 that cleared the way for a state appropriation earmarked to help the harness racing industry in the State of New Jersey.
“The 2018 season saw an average nightly handle of just over $2 million a night, so it’s easy for everyone to see the amazing progress we have made in New Jersey. The average handle is up $1 million a night.”
There are three live programs remaining in 2021 at The Meadowlands. Live racing will take place on Friday, Dec. 17 and Saturday, Dec. 18. Then, there will be no live racing on Friday, Dec. 24 and Saturday, Dec. 25. The final live card of the year will be conducted on Friday, Dec. 31, with a fireworks display on tap at the conclusion of the program. All cards kick off at the usual 6:20 p.m. There will be no live racing on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022.
PICK-6 CARRYOVER: There were no winning tickets sold in the 20-cent Pick-6 last Saturday night (Dec. 11), creating a carryover of $7,654 when racing returns Friday. Free past performances for every race of every Meadowlands card are available by going to playmeadowlands.com.
$100,000 GUARANTEED: The Meadowlands’ popular 50-cent Pick-4, which is offered twice nightly, offers players a big promise that a big score could be forthcoming. On each of the Pick-4s, which are offered on races six through nine and 10 through 13, there is a guaranteed pool of $50,000.
LOW TAKEOUT, HIGH EXPECTATIONS: Plenty of The Meadowlands’ popular wagers that sport a low 15 per cent takeout are available on a nightly basis. They are:
· Race 1: 20-cent Pick-5
· Race 3: 20-cent Survivor Pick-7
· Race 6: 50-cent Early Pick-4
· Race 8: 20-cent Pick-6
· Race 10: 50-cent Late Pick-4
· Race 14: 10-cent Pentafecta/Hi-5
RING IN THE NEW YEAR AT BIG M: Celebrate the New Year at the Meadowlands Racetrack with a night filled with racing, food and fireworks.
On Friday, Dec. 31 beginning at 6 p.m., guests can receive a free 2022 calendar filled with photos of 2021’s equine stars.
Buffet dining is available for $64.95 and includes a complimentary glass of celebratory champagne for those 21 and older. The menu features a winter salad with shaved Brussels sprouts, pomegranate seeds, pecans and lemon-champagne vinaigrette. New York Strip steak is on the carving station with garlic-herb tilapia, cheese ravioli and chicken teriyaki rounding out the main courses. A “Creole favourites” station is also included and is loaded with delicious jambalaya, red beans and cornbread. Tiramisu, fresh fruit and homemade cookies then round out the meal.
Reservations can be made by calling 201-The-BigM.
Following live harness racing, an enthralling fireworks display will take place to help ring in 2022.
(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)