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Big M Still Riding Big Handles

Published: February 24, 2016 4:55 pm ET

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With an unprecedented streak of seven straight nights posting all-sources handle of more than $3 million, the wagering momentum at the Meadowlands Racetrack is undeniable.

February handle shows a year-over-year increase of more than $2.5 million, an average of $518,862 per night and a per-race increase of $22,460 per race through the first three weekends of the month.

Over the weekend of February 19-20, the Meadowlands handled more money on its live races than the eight other American harness tracks that conducted live racing combined. The Meadowlands handled a total of $6.488 million over its two-day weekend of racing while the other tracks combined to handle $6.374 million.

“We are very proud of the tremendous roll that we are on here at the Meadowlands in terms of our live handle,” said Jason Settlemoir, the CEO/GM of Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment. “The fact that the Meadowlands represented more than 50 per cent of all American harness racing handle on Friday and Saturday shows how important a healthy Meadowlands is to the health of the entire industry. When you add that in addition to being the most popular nighttime signal in racing, we were the No. 5 track in all of racing on Friday (behind only Gulfstream , Santa Anita, Aqueduct and Tampa Bay). That speaks volumes on how the entire wagering public views the Meadowlands.”

Large wagering pools, a low percentage of winning favourites, and oversized payoffs continue to be the key drivers of the robust betting numbers.

Betting favourites this month are winning at just 29 per cent at the Meadowlands. Big fields have also contributed to robust pool sizes, especially in the exacta and trifecta wagers. For example, last Saturday’s exacta pools averaged nearly $70,000 per race while the trifecta pools were more than $50,000 on average per race.

Stringing together a series of winners has proven to be a challenge for handicappers. But for those sharp enough to succeed, the payoffs have been oversized. In February, the 50-cent Pick Five’s average payoff is just under $30,000 while the two Pick 4 wagers have returned, on average, $3,393.

The Meadowlands release states that the Big M has always been home to the sport’s top driver colony, and the release also states that is still the case, even though the makeup of the driver colony looks much different this year. David Miller has taken the winter off, Ron Pierce is mulling retirement, and several other regulars have missed time due to vacations. That has allowed several ‘young guns’ to make their mark. Based on Universal Driver Ratings, four of the track’s top 10 drivers in February are under the age of 30, including Marcus Miller (.275), Scott Zeron (.265), Austin Siegelman (.218), and Joe Bongiorno (.196). Tim Tetrick leads all drivers in February with a UDR of .280.

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

(With files from the Meadowlands)

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