Big M Striving For More $3M Handles

Thanks to full fields, competitive racing, reduced takeout rates, and a successful partnership with horse racing network TVG, the Meadowlands Racetrack has posted four straight $3-million handle nights for the first time since a period between December 19, 2003 and January 3, 2004 when the historic harness track posted five straight programs that handled more than $3 million.

The large wagering pools and relatively low percentage of winning favourites (34 per cent) created a horseplayer’s dream scenario last Friday night. A carryover in the 50-cent Pick Five of $18,643 attracted more than $140,000 in new money. With a usually tricky sequence that featured just one favourite and a 42-1 longshot, one horseplayer was rewarded with a life-changing payoff of $109,966.10. Plus, numerous other players that had four of the five winners received $255.70.

“From a gambling perspective, look at what the Meadowlands is offering,” explained Meadowlands CEO/GM Jason M. Settlemoir, “we have $100,000 payouts to draw the big players. Ten-cent superfectas averaged $423 last weekend to draw the smaller players. When you add exciting finishes, big fields, big pools and low takeouts, everything currently adds up to $3 million a night. From a gambling perspective, what is there not to like?”

The partnership between the Meadowlands and TVG has also contributed significantly to the wagering success. Harness racing at the Meadowlands is featured prominently on the network. Every race is broadcast live or on slight tape delay. In addition, the network’s on-air hosts interact and analyze the races with the Meadowlands’ Justin Horowitz. This commitment to the Meadowlands product and exposure to thoroughbred handicappers has attracted new money to the wagering pools.

“The Meadowlands represents the best that Standardbred racing has to offer in the U.S. and it shows in consumer enthusiasm for the product,” said Kip Levin, CEO of TVG and Betfair US. “The attractive high definition video presentation of Meadowlands races as well as the horsemen’s participation at the meet allows us to present a compelling product to evening audiences nationwide. We look forward to working with the Meadowlands on future innovations for racing.”

In addition to the monstrous Pick Five payoff, the track’s other guaranteed wagering pools in a pair of Pick Four wagers also returned handsome amounts. Friday’s Early Pick Four paid $5,647 for a 50-cent wager while Saturday’s Late Pick Four returned $2,585 for 50 cents.

The three guaranteed pools (Pick Five, Early and Late Pick Four) offer reduced takeout rates of 15 per cent, instead of the 25 per cent allowed by New Jersey regulations. The six pools handled a total of $428,615, which means the reduced takeout allowed the Meadowlands to return an extra $42,861 to the winning horseplayers last weekend alone.

“We are coming off four consecutive $3 million nights and now that football season has ended, we think our current product is strong enough with 34 per cent winning favourites and 23 ten-horse fields this weekend to draw not only sports fans, but crossover Thoroughbred fans to play the Meadowlands,” said Settlemoir.

Live racing takes place Friday and Saturday nights at the Meadowlands with 14-race programs beginning at 6:35 p.m.

(Meadowlands Racetrack)