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As live racing comes to a close for the 2019 season at Vernon Downs on Saturday (November 2), Samantha Winiavski will have completed her first year as Regional Marketing Manager of Racing for both Vernon and Tioga Downs. The 24 year-old graduate of Mansfield University first started as a promotions attendant at Tioga Downs in the spring of 2018. "When I started out as a promotions attendant I knew nothing about harness racing but I was willing to take on this learning curve," said Winiavski. "When this opportunity came up last November I just couldn't pass it up." Winiavski reports directly to Jason Settlemoir, who sits on the American Racing and Entertainment (Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs) Board of Directors and has overseen racing at the New York properties since January of 2006 as the Regional Vice President of Racing and COO and General Manager of the New Meadowlands Racetrack. " I am so proud of Sam, she has handled everything I have thrown at her and ran with it," Settlemoir said. "She continues to impress with her professionalism and her ability to learn quickly." Winiavski is in charge of marketing and live race promotions. She would like to thank Settlemoir, Jeff Gural, chairman of American Racing and Entertainment and former Director of Racing, Jason Bluhm. "I was fresh out of college when I first started working for this company," she said. "For them to have faith in me at such a young age really means the world to me." Winiavski is originally from Lindenhurst, Long Island but now resides in Troy, PA. She spends most of her days at Tioga Downs but does frequent Vernon Downs as well by John Horne, for Tioga and Vernon Downs              

Brett Risi has been named the Regional Operations Manager at Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs. The announcement was made on Wednesday by Jason Settlemoir, the Regional Vice President for Racing at Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, and The Meadowlands. Risi, 26, is originally from Ilion, NY, and has been the track handicapper at Tioga and Vernon since 2017. "You could see his enthusiasm since day one," said Settlemoir. "He has flourished in that position and is ready to step up and tackle his new endeavor." Risi, who will report directly to Settlemoir, will have new duties that include the overseeing of racing and simulcasts. Risi began attending races at Vernon Downs at the age of eight. By the age of 15, he was attending races weekly with his father, Vincent, and his brother, Ryan. He became a devoted fan of harness racing and wanted to learn more about the sport. At the announcement, Risi thanked Jeff Gural, chairman of American Racing and Entertainment, and Settlemoir for the opportunity. "I want to thank Jason Settlemoir for being my mentor and being somebody I look up to in the industry, [someone] who has led me in growing into a role like this," said Risi. "He is not only my friend but a teacher and coach who I could never thank enough for the opportunity of a lifetime." Risi also made mention of his family. "My brother and father would pick me up when I was down. They told me to keep my head up and my time would come." Additionally, Risi thanked his girlfriend, Jaci, and his stepson, Lucas. "Jaci always told me to never give up my dream." Risi will begin his new job immediately and will spend time at both Tioga Dows and Vernon Downs. by John Horne, for Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs                

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The curtain came down on the Meadowlands' 2019 harness racing meet on Hambletonian Day (Aug. 3), ending a seven-month run that would be the envy of any track operator. Total handle on Hambo Day was up nearly 15 percent over the year before as $6.5 million was pushed through the windows, approximately $800,000 more than the year before. The $6.5 million was by far the best single-day handle in the entire sport in 2019. Next up was the $4.4 million bet by players at Woodbine at Mohawk Park on March 30 when the track had a huge Super High-Five carryover on a mandatory payout night. The only other $4 million-plus handle this year was at the Big M on Meadowlands Pace Night ($4,044,303). The wagering trend was a positive one for the 62 Big M programs presented from the first of the year through the first Saturday in August, as a total of $174.2 million was put in play, good for an average of $2,811,179 per card. Over the same 2018 span, 58 race cards saw total wagering of $137.3 million, an average of $2,367,260. Thus, total wagering was up 27 percent at the industry's handle leader, while per-card betting increased 18 percent. One of the keys to increased handle is to card more races, and that was clearly the case this year as compared to last. During 2018, a total of 671 races were contested at the Meadowlands, an average per night of 11.56. This year, 790 races took place, good for an average of 12.74, an increase of 10.2 percent. With the additional races, there were 1,515 more starters in 2019 Big M races than there were in 2018. The track averaged 8.92 starters per race in 2019. The Meadowlands' faithful fan base bet with both hands on a consistent basis. Total handle reached $2.5 million 47 times over the 62-card span. On 12 occasions, the magic $3 million mark was achieved, while the Meadowlands Pace and Hambo accounted for the two $4 million-plus cards. "All of us at the Meadowlands are appreciative of the purse appropriation earmarked for the horse racing industry that was approved by New Jersey legislators, Gov. Phil Murphy, President of the New Jersey Senate Stephen Sweeney and Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly Craig Coughlin," said Big M Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "With that money in our purse account, it created more of a level playing field in the competition for horses from nearby states. "We appreciate how our horsemen have supported our entry box - we couldn't do it without them - and how our fans played our races all meeting long. We've seen consistently bigger fields at the Meadowlands, and big fields are what our fans like most when betting on our product. Competitive racing with large fields and less winning favorites at the sport's top facility is a recipe for wagering success." On the track, new fastest-ever Big M marks were established for horses of both gaits on July 6. Atlanta, the 2018 Hambletonian champion, exploded home in :26.3 in the Graduate Final for trotters on the way to stopping the clock in 1:49.1 while Lather Up set a new mark of 1:46 in the Graduate Final for pacers, and in the process, equaled Always B Miki's fastest mile ever in the history of the sport. Grabbing headlines - as usual - was the superstar mare Shartin N, who became the fastest female in harness racing history after taking the Lady Liberty on Hambo Day in 1:46.4. It was another great year for conditioner Ron Burke, as well as his go-to driver, Yannick Gingras. Burke took his eighth straight Big M training title with 73 victories and earnings of $1.85 million while Marcus Melander had the second-highest bank account at $1.29 million. Burke, 49, also reached a remarkable milestone, becoming the first trainer in history to record 10,000 lifetime wins after his student Crucial won a Jim Doherty Memorial elimination on July 26 at the mile oval. Gingras, 40, killed it all meeting long and used a fabulous February as the catalyst for his fifth Meadowlands driving title. During those 28 days, Gingras established meet highs for wins on a single program (seven, on the 1st) and in a month (33) on the way to visiting the winner's circle a total of 127 times. He was also tops in earnings with $2.25 million. Dexter Dunn was nothing short of superb in his first full season of racing in the U.S., as the New Zealand native opened many eyes with his 86 wins, which was easily second best in the standings. Tim Tetrick's earnings of $2.18 million nosed out Dunn's ($2.14 million) in the race for second-highest driver bankroll. THE SKED: Simulcasting from Saratoga and a host of other tracks will continue every day, but there will be no live racing at the Meadowlands for eight straight weekends, beginning Aug. 9-10. Monmouth Park will conduct thoroughbred racing over the Big M's turf course on Oct. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 25 and 26. The Meadowlands will be back with live harness action on Oct. 11, and then conduct racing on Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 30 before adding Thursdays in December. There will be both thoroughbred and harness racing on the same day on Oct. 11, 12, 18, 25 and 26. Post time for harness racing is 7:15 p.m. Post time for thoroughbred racing will be announced at a later date. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Expectations are normally low at the Meadowlands during the month of June with other harness racing tracks' major events historically drawing some interest - and handle - away from the mile oval, but this year was different, as June saw a huge increase in play over the previous year. With a nightly average all-source handle of $2,623,848, June of 2019 saw an increase of more than $750,000 a night over June of 2018. The average per race action last month was $222,779, which was $43,000 more than the June from the year before. Even on big nights for out-of-town tracks, the Big M still did vigorous 2019 business. On North America Cup Night, handle ($2.6 million) was up $850,725 over the year before, an increase of 48 percent. On Sun Stakes Night, betting at the Big M was $2.599 million, an increase of $623,421 (32 percent) from 12 months prior. The biggest reason for the increases are higher purses, which lead to fuller fields, which drive the handle machine at the Meadowlands. "You can really see how the new purse structure - created with the help of our governor and legislators - have brought the wagering dollars back to the Meadowlands," said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "June is historically our slowest month of the year. It is incredibly encouraging to see that even though the top drivers and trainers leave in June to race in Canada and the Poconos, we have been able to put out a wagering product that resulted in the highest nightly June average in over a decade." With just over a month left in the Big M's 2018-19 meeting, the numbers figure to get even bigger from here. "Heading into the final five weeks of the meet with our two premier events - the Meadowlands Pace and Hambletonian - coming up, all economic indicators at the Big M suggest that New Jersey racing is back in a big way," said Settlemoir. There will be plenty of opportunities for Big M fans to dive into some big pools this weekend, as Friday (July 5) night's 14-race program features nine 10-horse fields and one with 11 starters. The first race gets underway at 7:15 p.m. Saturday (July 6) is a huge night, featuring a pair of $250,000 Graduate Series Finals as well as two eliminations for the track's signature event, the $700,000 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace. The first of 11 races goes to the gate at a special early post time of 6:35 p.m. and the program will end sometime before 11 p.m. so that the track can showcase a brilliant fireworks show. There will also be reduced-priced concessions as the Big M salutes its faithful following on "Fan Appreciation Night". PACE NIGHT: The Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace Final is the centerpiece for "The Greatest Night in Harness Racing" and takes places on Saturday, July 13. Post time is 7:15 p.m. In addition to the Pace, there are a handful of other major events, including the Mistletoe Shalee, Stanley Dancer, Del Miller, William Haughton, Golden Girls and Hambletonian Maturity. Pace Night is a good night to be a barbecue lover, as that evening from 6-10 p.m. in The Backyard, patrons can come and sample some serious eats from some of the best local food trucks and restaurants in the area at the track's "BBQ Battle". Meadowlands Media Relations  

A new face will be seen on the award-winning Meadowlands Racetrack television broadcast on Friday, November 2. Michigan native Jessica Otten will join the Meadowlands as promotions/contest host and paddock interviewer. Otten was born into the harness business and has assisted her father, Peter Otten, run his stable. In 2016 she joined Post Time with Mike and Mike for their first live remote at the Meadowlands for Breeders Crown weekend. Over the last two years, Otten has become a valued member of the Mike & Mike team, co-hosting live remotes and interviewing some of the industry's biggest stars. "As someone who was born and raised in the business, I am extremely excited for the opportunity to be working at the Meadowlands, said Otten. "This is something I love doing and I look forward to pursing my career here." Otten will also assist with the track's social media platforms with a special focus on Snap Chat and race-night Twitter. "Ms Otten will bring a fresh perspective to the Meadowlands broadcast," said Meadowlands COO/GM Jason M. Settlemoir. "Jessica has grown up in the busin Ryess and knows harness racing inside and out. She will also infuse our contests and promotions with some additional excitement." bv Rachel Ryan, for the Meadowlands  

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. --- The harness racing tradition continues on Hambletonian Eve. For the fourth consecutive year, renowned equine artist Ann Lufkin has done a portrait of the past year's Hambletonian champion to present to the connections on the eve of the Meadowlands Racetrack CEO Jason Settlemoir and Hambletonian Society president John Campbell will present the portrait of Perfect Spirit to owner Lennart Agren of SRF Stable and driver-trainer Ake Svanstedt on Friday, Aug. 3 at The Meadowlands. In a memorable and chaotic finish, Perfect Spirit was the winner by disqualification, after What The Hill squeezed off the pylons in deep stretch to hit the finish line first. Judges declared there was contact between What The Hill and Guardian Angel AS, marking the first time in Hambletonian history that a horse had his number taken down in 92 editions of the $1 million trotting classic for 3-year-olds. Perfect Spirit was the winner of the 2017 Hambletonian. The portrait will be presented prior to the races on Friday, Aug., 3, in Trotters, during the owners and Hambletonian Society Directors cocktail party at 6:30 pm. For more on Lufkin's work, visit http://www.annlufkin.com/ The stakes-filled Hambletonian Day card begins at 12 noon. The Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks will be featured on a live 90-minute broadcast on CBS Sports Network from 4-5:30 p.m. (EDT). From the Meadowlands Media Department

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - It was a big night on many fronts last Saturday (July 14) at the Meadowlands, as the $4 million plateau was reached in total handle, the track's sparkling new Fanduel Sports Book @ Victory Sports Bar was opened for wagering on professional sports and Hall of Fame driver David Miller won the Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace for the first time in his 19th try. Total handle on the program was a meet-high $4,083,401 (an increase of approximately $250,000 over last year's Pace Night) as six stakes races on the program saw pools in excess of $300,000, with the Pace leading that parade, with $536,305 being put in play. "All of us at the Meadowlands are so pleased that our fans supported the Pace card like they did," said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "It just goes to show you with quality purses we attract quality horses and the public responds by betting with both fists." On the morning of Pace Night, the sports book opened to a big crowd anxious to place wagers on Major League Baseball, the World Cup Final and many other future bets. The hours of the sports book are as follows: Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-1 a.m.; Friday 10 a.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-2 a.m. and Sunday 9 a.m.-1 a.m. Finally, the 53-year-old Miller broke his Pace maiden by guiding 6-5 favorite Courtly Choice to a 1¼-length win over 57-1 shot Dorsoduro Hanover in 1:47.1. Horses driven by Miller have earned at least $10 million 15 times over the last 17 years and "The Buckeye" sports lifetime earnings of nearly $226 million. Miller will be the guest Friday night on "In the Sulky", the Big M's interview segment on its live simulcast presentation. It will be seen at approximately 7:35 p.m. POST TIME CHANGE: This Friday and Saturday, post time for the first live race at the Meadowlands will be 8 p.m. JUMP INTO THE POOL: After failing to reach six figures for two months, Saturday night marked the fourth consecutive race card where the 50-Cent Pick-4 pool reached $100,000, as a meet-high $142,198 was pushed through the windows. ... On Friday night, the Late 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five had a mandatory payout, and after "new" money pushed the total pool well past the $500,000 mark, those holding winning tickets cashed in for $76,472. HAMBO COUNTDOWN: It's just three Saturdays until this year's edition of the Hambletonian. Here is the track's schedule for its stretch run: July 20 and 21, post time 8 p.m.; July 27, 28 and Aug. 3, 7:15 p.m. On Hambletonian Day, Saturday, Aug. 4, post time is noon. On the card, more than $3 million in purse money will be up for grabs. HAVE A SPA DAY: Thoroughbred racing's most popular meeting starts on Friday as the Big M will feature racing from Saratoga on its daily simulcast menu. Every Saturday, there will be at least one $500,000 event on the Spa card, with the marquee event, the $1.25 Travers Stakes, slated for Saturday, August 25. Saratoga races every day except Tuesday through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3. Post time is 1 p.m. by Dave Little, for the Meadowlands  

Late last night, the Meadowlands management sent a response to www.harnessracingupdate.com pertaining to the situation with Brian Sears being barred from competing Saturday night in the Meadowlands Pace. At the end of last year (track owner) Jeff Gural and (COO) Jason Settlemoir met with all of the drivers that compete regularly at The Meadowlands, including Brian Sears. It was explained to them that if they wanted to drive at Yonkers from Jan through June don’t expect to show up in July to drive horses in our major stakes. Everyone understood and we made it clear that this rule did not apply to the Levy or Matchmaker or any other stakes races, only to overnights. Brett Miller, Yannick Gingras and Corey Callahan drove at The Meadowlands over the winter, though not every night, but they did not drive at Yonkers. Dave Miller and Brian Sears spent the winter in Florida and David began driving at the Meadowlands when he came back. Tim Tetrick took the winter off and came back after the Levy. Sears asked if he could come back after Yonkers closed for 10 days at the end of May and he did come back for that weekend’s racing. He then called Jeff and told him he had decided he did not want to be driving on the Grand Circuit and endure all the travel and inconvenience. Jeff said that was his decision and he understood; assuming this issue would not arise since most trainers of Grand Circuit horses expect their driver to travel around to Canada, Indiana, PA, Ohio and Lexington. And not just show up at the Meadowlands. Truthfully, we are surprised this became an issue since Jeff likes Brian, thinks he is a great driver and respects his desire to slow down as evidenced by his decision to take the winter off. Brian Sears is not a victim here; he advised that as a lifestyle matter he wasn’t looking for what a racing on the Grand Circuit requires and we respect that. We appreciated the commitment and rigorous schedule maintained by our drives who are Grand Circuit drivers. Up to now the only reason there is racing at the Meadowlands is because Jeff has subsidized the operating losses and overpaid the purse account by millions of dollars. With the help of many sponsors the lights have remained on and the lucrative stakes program intact. Seeing the hand writing on the wall with the dramatic decline in entries as evidenced by the fewer races, short field and lower handle has compelled Jeff along with Mike Gulotta, the SBOANJ and Dennis Drazin at Monmouth Park to work tirelessly these last few months to convince the state of the importance of horse racing in the state. Together they have requested that the state restore the $30 million-dollar purse subsidy that Gov. Christie redirected to AC advising politicians that without that money it would be impossible for The Meadowlands to continue to race when the PA tracks are open and also impossible to maintain the existing stakes schedule, which is what makes Meadowlands the leading harness track in the country, if not the world. Unfortunately, the subsidy was not included in the budget passed last week; however Jeff and the others have not given up and hope to have that added to a supplement budget which hopefully will happen in the fall. In the meantime, everyone should enjoy the next five weeks of major stakes and the 2-year-olds racing on Saturday’s Breakfast With The Babies culminating with the richest race of the year, the Hambletonian. From the management at the Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — The Meadowlands Racetrack has announced that it will open its legalized sports betting service on July 14, one day sooner than previously scheduled according to the www.northjersey.com.  The racetrack's operator, Jeff Gural, told reporters last month that July 15 would be the first day of legal sports betting at the Meadowlands. But on Monday, the track's General Manager Jason Settlemoir, told NorthJersey.com that the new service will begin on July 14. "The timing is much better and in correlation with one of our biggest race days, the Meadowlands Pace," Settlemoir stated. The Victory Sports Bar and Club, where patrons will place their bets, is set to open to "dignitaries" at 9:30 a.m. After a series of speeches, those special guests will have the honor of placing the first legal sports wagers at the Meadowlands track. At 11 a.m., the club will open to the general public, allowing wagers on professional and college sports, said Keith Wall, an international representative of the online gambling company Betfair. Betfair has partnered with the Meadowlands track, offering their own in-house odds and other services.

East Rutherford, NJ - Ten competitors battled it out in Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment's 3rd Annual Battle of the Burger all vying for the grand prize of $1,500 and bragging rights. Chef Leia Gaccione of South + Pine American Eatery, Morristown, NJ took home the $1,500 prize for her French Onion Dip Burger. The winning certified Blank Angus burger was topped with French onion dip aioli, Gruyere cheese, mushroom ragu with arugula and crispy shallots all on a brioche bun. This was the second win for South + Pine, they took home the $1,500 grand prize in the inaugural Battle of the Burger in 2016. Little Bite of Paradise took home the $1,000 second place prize for the third year in a row with their Ancho Mamma's Burger. The burger featured melted smoked Gouda, lime pickled red onions, lettuce, heirloom tomatoes with chipotle mayo and crispy Ancho avocado on a brioche roll. The $500 third place prize went to Spanky's Gourmet Grub food truck based out of North Jersey. Spanky's winning burger was 50% short rib/brisket/rib-eye blend and 50% bacon with homemade bacon jam, caramelized onions all topped with their signature cheese skirt. The New Maggie's Bar & Grill of Carlstadt, NJ was voted People's Choice Champion and took home a $150. "This was the best Burger Battle yet," said Meadowlands General Manager and COO Jason M. Settlemoir. "We sampled some delicious, creative burgers and we cannot wait until next year's battle!" by Rachel Ryan, for The Meadowlands

HARRISBURG, PA---Positive commentary and industrious promotion of harness racing are the best ways to gain new owners, fans and gamblers as well as retain the ones already engaged in order to keep this industry viable for the next generation. And there is no one that does these things more effectively on a daily basis than T.J. Burkett and Jason Settlemoir. As a result, they will each be presented an USHWA President's Award for their contributions to the sport at the 2018 Dan Patch Awards Banquet that will be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, February 25. Burkett is the Executive Editor of Hoof Beats Magazine and has spent more than a decade working on the publication for the U.S. Trotting Association. After joining the USTA in 2007 as associate editor, he became the youngest-ever executive editor of Hoof Beats in December of 2010. Burkett has continued the magazine's long tradition of providing harness racing fans with an insider's view of the sport through in-depth features and profiles. But he has also directed the magazine's focus to promoting the stars of racing, tackling the issues that racing faces and shining a light on those who work hard at every level, but haven't gotten the recognition they deserve. During his tenure, Burkett has implemented some significant improvements in the monthly publication. Among the biggest was the transition of the annual Stan Bergstein experimental ratings to a modern day formula, the significant growth of the Hoof Beats photo contest and introducing the digital format "Hoof Beats Direct" in 2013, making the magazine easily accessible through any handheld device. Currently Burkett is supervising a major redesign of Hoof Beats that is scheduled to be unveiled in March of 2018. He is also leading the way on a project to digitize the entire historical archive of the magazine with search term capability. Settlemoir is the COO/GM of New Meadowlands Racetrack and Winners OTW at Bayonne, N.J., and is vice president of racing, simulcast and sponsorship for American Racing and Entertainment (Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs). He is also simulcast director for the Little Brown Jug as well as their second announcer, a vice president of Harness Tracks of America, past president and chairman of the U.S. Harness Writers Association, a Grand Circuit and Little Brown Jug Society Director, a member of the USHWA Hall of Fame Screening Committee, and a director for the United States Trotting Association. Settlemoir was awarded the 2006 U.S. Harness Writers Association's Lew Barasch Breakthrough Award for his work in opening up Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs and was inducted into the Upstate New York Chapter of USHWA's Hall of Fame in 2011. Settlemoir has also always been a big part of any community he has lived in and sat on the board of directors for the Tioga County Chamber of Commerce, the Southern Tier Red Cross and the Tioga County United Way, where he was chair for the annual campaign drive, before making his move to The Meadowlands and New Jersey. "T.J. and Jason were both born and raised in this business and have made it their life's work. Their extensive first-hand experience gives them a unique understanding of harness racing at every level," said Tim Bojarski, President of USHWA. "They both come to the office each day with a positive attitude towards the sport, its participants and the viability of its future, and they work to try to infuse that into every aspect of their individual responsibilities. As a result. I believe harness racing as a whole is better for their efforts now and will continue to improve in the future under their respective leadership roles." "Although rivals at the academic level (Burkett went to Michigan State and Settlemoir Ohio State), the Big 10 produced a great team of harness racing proponents who both have made significant contributions to date and will continue to do so for a long time," Bojarski concluded. From USHWA (U.S. Harness Writers Association)  

Elkton, MD --- Post Time with Mike and Mike has an action packed show lined up for Thursday night (April 14) starting at 7:00 PM.   Post Time would like to remind our listeners that there is still time to sign up for the Fifth week of the George Morton Levy contest via their website www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com. The grand prize is a set of Yannick Gingras' colors, courtesy of Friends of Maryland Standardbreds.   Trainers Pete Tritton and Eric Ell will be joining the program. Tritton is the conditioner of the red hot Bit Of A Legend N, who will throw down with Wiggle It Jiggleit in the final leg of the George Morton Levy Series at Yonkers. Eric Ell's superstar trotter JL Cruze was impressive in victory in his seasonal debut at Dover.   Chris Gooden from The Meadows will join us to talk about using Facebook Live to broadcast from the paddock, giving racing fans a behind the scenes look before the races.   Long time contributor to the sport of harness racing Freddie Hudson will join the program to talk about his brand new website about Roosevelt Raceway and harness racing history.   Post Time with Mike and Mike's mission is to positively promote the sport of harness racing. Every hoof that hits a racetrack has a story to tell, whether a claimer or a stakes horse, and we plan on telling those stories. You can listen to the show via our website or at www.blogtalkradio.com/ptmikeandmike.   From the Mike & Mike Show

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (April 7, 2016) - The Meadowlands blew the doors off of its 2015 numbers in the first quarter of 2016 as the betting pools spiked to their highest levels in years. Per race handle has grown each month so far in 2016, rising from $214,437 in January to $229,270 in February and $234,271 in March. The trend continued into the first weekend of April with a total of $6,422,614 wagered on the two cards, an average of $267,609 per race. This represents a total increase of $1,176,689 over the corresponding weekend in 2015. Comparing the 23 nights of racing in 2016 to the same 23 nights in 2015, The Meadowlands posted a 12 percent increase in live handle through the first quarter of the year, a total increase of more than $7.7 million. The numbers were especially strong for the eight nights of racing in March with handle increasing more than $2 million compared to the same eight dates in 2015 despite five fewer races this year. "The rising popularity of The Meadowlands right now is unquestionable," said Meadowlands COO/GM Jason M. Settlemoir. "We have succeeded in significantly growing our audience. We also understand how much it means that an owner or horseplayer that cannot make it to the races now has the opportunity to go to a restaurant or pub with their friends and watch their horse win at The Meadowlands on national television. TVG has made that extraordinary social experience possible. The international TVG audience elevates the stature of not only The Meadowlands, but the state of New Jersey and the entire sport." Further breaking down the wagering trends by pool, it should come as no surprise that the low takeout wagers continue to be extremely popular with horseplayers. So far in April, the Late Pick Four has averaged $78,341 per night while the Early Pick Four ($50,025) and the Pick Five ($49,111) are also among the top five highest handling wagers. All three wagers offer the low takeout rate of 15 percent and a base wager amount of 50 cents. The vertical wagers have also grown in size in April. The exacta pools averaged more than $76,153 per race while the trifecta pools averaged $59,444. The straight win players have also been getting in on the action, as the average win pool grew to $48,413 last weekend. 10-cent and 20-cent wagers are also growing rapidly. The 10-cent superfecta pools have grown to $39,970 per race in April, while the 20-cent Jackpot Super High Five offered on the final race of the night currently boasts harness racing's largest carryover of $164,858. The race office has continued to card full, competitive fields that offer the largest pools in the sport, even in the face of growing competition from regional tracks that offer purses supplemented by alternative gaming revenue. The percentage of winning favorites continues to be a respectable 38 percent, putting the Meadowlands right in line with the top three thoroughbred tracks currently racing (Aqueduct - 38 percent; Gulfstream - 35 percent; and Santa Anita - 37 percent). Meadowlands live racing takes place Friday and Saturday with 7:15 p.m. post time each night. Free past performance pages are available each night for the Late Pick Four on the Meadowlands website. For more information, visit www.playmeadowlands.com. by Justin Horowitz, for the Meadowlands

Jason Settlemoir, a "youthful veteran" of the sport who has spent a quarter-century working in harness racing at several of its premier locations, has been selected for a six-year term as a member of the Hall of Fame Screening Committee, appointed by Tim Bojarski, president of the U.S. Harness Writers Association, per the organization's By-Laws.   Settlemoir started his harness career as a teenager, being associated with the Terry Holton Stable and working in various media and operational capacities at Ohio's racing venues, including the Little Brown Jug Grand Circuit meets at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. Settlemoir was then tapped to be an executive by Jeff Gural when he purchased New York tracks Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, and again later when Gural took over operations of Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey. There, Settlemoir continued on to his present position of General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the world-famous mile oval.   He also serves on the executive boards of the U.S. Trotting Association and Harness Tracks of America.   Settlemoir has already served two years on the Screening Committee as a voting member while president of USHWA between 2010 and 2012, as all USHWA presidents are voting members of every USHWA committee.   "Jason Settlemoir is a rare combination of old school and new breed when it comes to harness racing. Despite his age, his vast experience in the sport began while working for midwest racing legends 20 years ago and continued to develop through today, where he now oversees meets that feature the best trainers and drivers in North America," said Bojarski.   "Settlemoir's high moral standards, hands-on knowledge of harness racing and overall love of the sport make him uniquely qualified to view potential Hall of Fame candidates through the eyes of both horseman and administrator. And it's that perspective that will vet and deliver the best possible candidates to the highest accolade in racing."   The USHWA Hall of Fame Screening Committee gathers together the biographies of nominations for the Hall, which must come from the chapters of USHWA, and discusses them at meetings over the Fourth of July weekend in Goshen NY, the home of the Hall and the Harness Racing Museum.   The nominations are also discussed with an Advisory Committee of members of the Hall of Fame, and then the group's choices for ballot candidates are decided and go before the electorate, eligible USHWAns and Hall of Famers, later in the summer.   Jerry Connors    

Vernon, N.Y. -- The 2015 season at Vernon Downs came to a close on Saturday (November 21) evening, with a nine-race card bringing the curtain down on the 90-program meeting.   "We thank all of the horsemen who raced at Vernon Downs this year for another successful meet," said Jason M. Settlemoir, Vice President of Racing at Vernon Downs. " As always, we also thank our loyal customers, and we look forward to seeing everyone back in the spring for the 2016 racing season at the Miracle Mile."   John MacDonald took top driving honours for the meet, winning 151 races, 14 more than runner-up Chris Lems. MacDonald teamed up with Vernon Downs training champion Dave Dewhurst in the evening's $4800 first event, prevailing with odds-on favourite Fox Valley Cadet ($2.60) in pillar-to-post fashion in 1:55.1.   Dewhurst successfully defended his 2014 training championship, concluding the 2015 season with 69 winners, 16 more than Truman Gale. Among Dewhurst's triumphs were a pair on Closing Night, as he also found success with Pantheon Hanover ($6.30) in a $5400 pacing event.   Co-featured $9000 races on both gaits shared the spotlight, with Shock N Rock ($12.00) kicking cover to defeat a quartet of pacers in 1:51. Justin Huckabone drove the 5-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding for owner-trainer Scott West. Among an octet of trotters contesting their feature, War Hero ($3.90) took advantage of a pocket trip behind Write That Down, vacating the pegs in mid-stretch and lunging to a narrow 1:54.2 win under Howard Okusko, Jr. Jessica Okusko trains the 7-year-old Ken Warkentin gelding for Howard Gill.   A pair of events for 9-year-olds and upward closed the season, with trotter Yankee Manny ($3.20, Lems, 1:59) and pacer Veal Marsala ($12.60, Jimmy Whittemore, 1:54.4) capturing the "War Horse" events. Another veteran took his curtain call earlier in the evening: 14-year-old My Fella, owned and trained by Allie Berube and driven by Fern Paquet, Jr., made his final Vernon Downs appearance after a 12-season career on the racetrack with a third-place finish in a $3000 conditioned event.   Live racing will return to Vernon Downs in the spring of 2016. Once made final, the schedule will be available at www.vernondowns.com.   by James Witherite, for Vernon Downs 

Nearly 10,000 partygoers came out to the Life in Color Concert on Sunday, June 28th at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment. The event was both well-coordinated and well-received by the paint-happy concert goers. An event that included a wide array of music presented by different disc jockeys as well as an artistic spin with those partaking in the festivities running and dancing through paint, the Life in Color event was certainly the first of its kind at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment. The success of the event carries a great deal of significance for the venue. "To say we tried something new with this event, would be an understatement," said Meadowlands General Manager/C.E.O. Jason Settlemoir. "Not only did the event take place without a hitch, but it was successful in terms of the enjoyment of those who came out for the event. Those two items are of the utmost importance to us moving forward as we continue to expand what Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment can accomplish. I would especially like to thank our Assistant General Manager, Marianne Rotella for putting together a plan for this event and executing it flawlessly." Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural spoke to what the success of this event means to the future of The Meadowlands. "This was another big step for us," said Gural. "Of course, we are fully committed to the success of our racing product, but this event signifies what building this new facility was all about. Not only is The New Meadowlands a gorgeous facility, but it enables us to put forth events that would never have been possible had we continued to operate out of the original facility. It just its first 18 months of operation, we have hosted a huge party for 10,000 people as well hosting the Super Bowl V.I.P. party, which included a performance by John Legend. It is extremely important to The Meadowlands that we can be successful hosting events like Life in Color and execute the operational aspects of the event as if we have been in the business of hosting these events for years. Life in Color proved that we can do that and it creates avenues for our hosting events like this in the future. I am hopeful that we will only expand on this aspect of our business moving forward, especially in June of 2016, when our racing schedule becomes challenged to do a difficulty to find an adequate amount of horses to race. I am optimistic we can continue to maximize the potential of the entertainment aspects of this beautiful facility." With Life in Color a success, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment will continue to grow its presence in the entertainment world and will attract increased attention from those looking to host major events in the tri-state area. Visit playmeadowlands.com for all upcoming events and details.   Darin Zoccali

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