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Freehold, NJ --- Freehold Raceway announced today the cancellation of the 2020 Dexter Cup Trot and the Lady Suffolk Trot due to the continued closure of live harness racing and shelter in place orders from Governor Phil Murphy due to COVID 19. The finals for both races were scheduled for Saturday, May 2. All nominating and sustaining payment refunds will be handled by the Hambletonian Society in accordance with published race conditions. "We looked at possible alternate dates, but with an already crowded fall stakes season and other tracks looking to move signature races to the fall, cancelling the races became the best option for this year," said Howard Bruno, Freehold Raceway General Manager.   Freehold Raceway

Meadowlands Racetrack operator Jeff Gural is an extremely successful — and wealthy — real estate mogul who, now in his late 70s, is very comfortable with revealing his state of mind. And when it comes to horse racing, Gural on numerous occasions has been quite straightforward about the daunting challenges ahead as his track struggles to survive. It’s no easy task, when competing with racetracks in New York and Pennsylvania that receive hundreds of millions of dollars in annual subsidies from slot machine revenues from those tracks. So when Gural told njonlinegambling.com on Wednesday his very optimistic sentiments about the recent horse racing doping scandal, it’s particularly worth noting. More than two dozen industry figures were swept up in indictments March 9 after a federal investigation uncovered evidence of the alleged scheme that crossed both the standardbred and thoroughbred industries. For the past decade, Gural has been banning trainers that he had come to believe were cheating, often taking public criticism from those horsemen and also others interested in the industry over his “playing sheriff” without incontrovertible proof. Now Gural says he feels “100%” vindicated, particularly given that some of the trainers he had banned were named in the indictment. Wire taps worked “We cannot just rely on drug testing, as we have been doing, because it doesn’t work,” Gural said. “Having a federal investigation, with the use of wire taps — that’s the way to go to catch them. I really believe that from now on, no one will be using these illegal drugs because it’s too risky. “We accomplished something by getting rid of the bad guys. It will be interesting, once we get back to racing, if certain trainers are still racing — and how they perform,” Gural added. The fact of the investigation did not surprise Gural, because he and The Jockey Club for the past four years have paid the 5 Stones investigative firm to look into such allegations. “We were very much aware of the FBI investigating, but I didn’t personally know who they were investigating. I had to read the names when the indictments came out,” Gural said. “I feel like we really accomplished something, and I understand there could be more arrests coming. And some might find it in their interest to cooperate.” The timing of the March 9 indictments was unusual. The COVID-19 pandemic already had begun to dominate the news cycle, and two days later the NBA suspended its regular season after a player tested positive for the virus. That swept the doping scandal off the front pages and virtual front pages in the U.S. and in numerous countries where horse racing remains quite popular. Mixed feelings on indictments timing “Part of me is glad that the sport didn’t get as much of a black eye,” Gural said. “But if not for all this about the virus, people would be demanding we make changes right away. “My concern is that this all shows we must turn oversight over to the federal government. It’s not fair that I should have to pay for this [initial investigation]. “We can’t have 30 different states trying to catch these trainers — we need a law passed in Congress,” Gural added. The Jockey Club, as well as Gural, supports the Horseracing Integrity Act pending in Congress, which calls for a single anti-doping authority to oversee rules of testing of medications that might give particular trainers and their horses an unfair advantage — an edge that could even prove fatal for those horses at times. Monmouth Park operator Dennis Drazin, whose track’s seven-time defending champion trainer was swept up in the indictments, has called for even more sweeping reforms in light of the indictments. Meadowlands — back to business? The worldwide pandemic has shuttered the Meadowlands Racetrack, a mecca for harness racing since it opened in 1976, for more than three weeks. Gural said his employees have had to be furloughed, although he said he is still paying for their health insurance. “Maybe hurting the most are the trainers and grooms, who have no income,” Gural said. “And nobody knows what to do with their horses. Maybe we can get back to racing soon, even if it’s without any customers.” Aqueduct Raceway in Queens tried the latter approach last month, only to shut down after a backstretch worker who lives at Belmont Park and worked at Aqueduct tested positive for the virus. Gural said that the Meadowlands is helped by the fact that horses have not stabled at his East Rutherford track for a number of years. “We have a plan for how to practice social distancing of employees, we can check the temperature of everyone who comes in, and so forth,” Gural said. Asked if that could mean a return to live racing in mere weeks, not months, Gural said, “I hope so. People are definitely looking for something to bet on.” By John Brennan Reprinted with permission of New Jersey Online Gambling

East Rutherford, NJ - Given the current situation The Meadowlands and Tioga and Vernon Downs are doing whatever can be done to look after our employees and be a good harness racing neighbor in the community.   We also realize the plight of the horsemen that race at our tracks and the anxiety of not knowing what the near future might hold.   It is in this spirit that we try to shed a little light on what may be possible.   It is our hope that we may be able to resume live racing at The Meadowlands on May 1, 2020. That is of course contingent on many things, most of which we do not control.   Tioga and Vernon Downs will set to preparing for live racing as soon as the casinos are cleared to open.   Fortunately, our stakes at The Meadowlands would have barely begun on the original calendar. The only casualty thus far is the new 4-year-old NJSS Maturity stakes that were scheduled for March and April. We'll look to race those later in the season.   The first open stake scheduled is Leg #1 of the Graduate Series for pacers on May 2. If we get open, we would likely delay that race for a bit to give those horses a chance to get a start while looking for a logical spot to race it. The NJSS for 3-year-olds were to begin on May 15 and we might move them back a few weeks.   These ideas are contingent upon whether stakes at other tracks are raced when originally scheduled.   We are cautiously optimistic that as a result of the delay to the opening of their live meet that Monmouth Park will race a turf only meet at The Meadowlands in 2020 and not convert the main track. This potential development may give us some flexibility so far as making up live race dates in October and November.   "We are working to get the tracks open, but only when it's safe," said Meadowlands President Jeff Gural. "I get that guys need to race, I'd like to race too. We must adhere to the guidelines set forth by Governors Murphy and Cuomo and we will follow their direction." The Meadowlands and Tioga and Vernon Downs

East Rutherford, NJ - With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting Bergen County extremely hard the Meadowlands Racetrack wanted to help the community in any way possible. After learning the Meadowlands YMCA was working with Table to Table to distribute meals to families in need, the Meadowlands Racetrack and its restaurant partner Ark Meadowlands pitched in to help feed the local community. The racetrack donated over 500 meals along with fresh vegetables, cases of water, gatorade and soda to the Meadowlands YMCA. Employees volunteered their time to help pack up the meal boxes and bag the vegetables. "When we learned that our community was in need, we knew we could help immediately," said Jason Settlemoir, COO & GM of the Meadowlands Racetrack. "I'd like to thank Jennifer Jordan for organizing this food drive for us and Marianne Rotella, Marcello Esposito, Lisa Smoter, Rachel Ryan and Raul Perez for working so hard on getting this done." "We are looking forward to our return to racing when it is safe to do so," continued Settlemoir. "We encourage everyone to remain at home and stay healthy and we look forward to seeing everyone back at the track." For updates on the Meadowlands Racetrack visit http://playmeadowlands.com/ . For ways to help the Meadowlands YMCA visit https://www.meadowlandsymca.org/main/covid-19-updates-information/  

MANALAPAN, NJ - April 3, 2020 - Takter harness racing farm is in need of experienced general maintenance help: Mechanically inclined, operate tractors and other farm equipment, grass mowing, upkeep of different types of farm machinery and overall farm facilities. Salary depending on skills and experience. Contact Christina Takter by phone 609-636-3747 or by email christinatakter@gmail.com Courtney Stafford

East Rutherford, NJ - Be advised that any horse that was being trained by a harness racing trainer named in the recent Federal indictments at the time those indictments were handed down will not be accepted to race at The Meadowlands, Tioga or Vernon Downs in overnights or stakes for 60 days from the date that the tracks reopen for live racing.    

Amy and Stacy Butewicz have been around horses for nearly their entire lives. Amy began riding at the age of 4 and Stacy followed in her older sister's footsteps. Several years ago, they were introduced to harness racing and fell in love with the Standardbred, the sport, and the people. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closing of New Jersey's racetracks earlier this month, Amy and Stacy knew there would be people in the harness racing industry in need of assistance because of the loss of income. Last week, with cooperation from the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey, they announced a food assistance program for those in the industry in the state. The program allows an individual or family to obtain a food assistance bag, every other week. The bags will include non-perishables, canned goods, household products and more. As of Tuesday morning, 13 individuals/families were enrolled in the program. "We expect that number to grow as people find out about the program and we will continue to accept anyone in need from the industry within New Jersey," Amy said. "Just in the days that we've rolled out this program, it's really been a tremendous help. We're going to have our first deliveries go out this week and we will keep it going every other week until live racing resumes." Amy and Stacy, who work together at Butewicz Equestrian Lifestyle Real Estate - Keller Williams Princeton, have received support from others in harness racing, including trainers and veterinarians, in the form of donations or supermarket gift cards. The sisters are no strangers to helping others. Among their philanthropic endeavors, they volunteer at a food pantry in central New Jersey. "I think our experience definitely made us feel more capable in taking this on, but Amy and I are always looking for ways to help people," Stacy said. "The opportunity to be able to help people one-on-one is what we love the most. Once we realized what was going on with the industry and how many people could be affected, we realized some of those people would be struggling. We thought of those people and jumped into it." Stacy and Amy hope the program reduces the financial impact on people, who must feed not only themselves and their families, but their horses. "The horse people we know care so much about those animals that they're willing to give up a meal for themselves," Stacy said. "We are thinking about the horses, too, and wanted to do whatever we could to lighten the burden on what is coming out of people's pockets in their personal situation." To register for the program, please use either following method, and include your name, address and training center/stable location. Requests will be kept confidential. TEXT "ASSIST" to 732.887.5649. EMAIL "ASSIST" to albutewicz@gmail.com. Items will be delivered directly to individuals/families or placed in a secure location for pick up. Arrangements also can be made for anyone wanting to donate dry goods or supermarket gift cards by contacting the above number or email address. "Both of us in the past three or four years have absolutely grown to love the Standardbred as a horse," Amy said. "Horses have always been in our blood. We got into this fairly late in our equestrian careers, but we absolutely love it. "The other thing we have seen is this is an industry that is so much like a family. One person really and truly cares about another; one stable is friendly with another. With what is going on right now, we've seen people really uniting and working together. It's been great." Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association

Surveillance Firm Played Role in Federal Indictments The Jockey Club, Meadowlands employ 5 Stones intelligence. During the past four years, The Jockey Club and Meadowlands Racetrack have retained the services of a leading international investigative company, and that association might have paid a dividend in the recent federal indictments of Thoroughbred trainers Jason Servis and Jorge Navarro as well as several harness racing trainers in a doping scheme. Through the recommendation of officials from the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency, The Jockey Club turned to 5 Stones intelligence in 2016 to provide confidential investigative services.  "It is vitally important to the sport that it is regulated competently and by authorities that are independent," said James Gagliano, the president and chief operating officer for The Jockey Club. "That is a hallmark of the Horseracing Integrity Act, and it has never been more important to the sport, given the events of this week." Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural, who operates a harness racing meet at the New Jersey racetrack, said he also employed 5 Stones and that information from 5 Stones played a role in the federal indictments of 29 people that were announced March 9-11 by the United States District Attorney, Southern District of New York. "We participated with The Jockey Club in retaining (5 Stones) to help lead the FBI in the right direction," Gural said. Gagliano said The Jockey Club is continuing its engagement with 5 Stones. He added that the indictments illustrate horse racing's urgent need to support passage of the Horseracing Integrity Act, which calls for a single non-governmental, anti-doping authority to oversee medication rules and testing. "This crisis has to be a rallying point for the sport," Gagliano said. "In my view, passage of the Horseracing Integrity Act will lay the foundation for a once-in-a-century system change that puts welfare and integrity as the guiding principles of how the sport is regulated." Gural echoed the call for passage of the HIA, saying racetracks have been turning a blind eye to cheaters for far too long. "All the racetrack owners in the country who said they cared about this didn't care. They had to know the only way to catch these guys was through undercover and surveillance companies. Without them, you were just giving lip service that you cared," Gural said. "There's no gray area when it comes to honesty. Everyone knew the system was broken, but no one cared about it. There's no way we can tell people in politics that we care if we don't let the USADA take over. The funny thing is that when I would talk to people who oppose the government taking over, the next thing I would ask is if the current system is working, and 100% would say no. I don't understand that. They knew the system wasn't working, and they were happy with it.  "If we don't bring in the USADA now and get behind the (HIA), we should shut down the sport. It would say we really don't care." According to the company website, "5 Stones intelligence is a leading intelligence and investigative company based in Miami, with offices throughout the world. 5Si possesses the world's largest private HUMINT intelligence network and supports intelligence collection and analysis, global investigations, and operations support for Governments and corporations." Servis, who trains recent Saudi Cup winner Maximum Security, who was disqualified from first to 17th in last year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), and Navarro, the seven-time leading trainer at Monmouth Park, are scheduled to be arraigned March 23 on charges of a misbranding conspiracy.  BloodHorse reported March 14 that Servis and Navarro could appear before the New York federal court for arraignment and initial conference either in person or by telephone conference in a concession to travel difficulties because of COVID-19. The indictment charged that Servis had performance-enhancing drugs administered to "virtually all of the racehorses under his care" and that Navarro orchestrated "a widespread scheme of covertly obtaining and administering various adulterated and misbranded PEDs to horses under his control." Navarro is facing two counts of the misbranding charge, each carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Servis was charged with one count and could be imprisoned for up to five years if found guilty. Among the harness trainers indicted are Rene Allard, who was third in North American earnings last year, Richard Banca, Nick Surick, Chris Oakes, Chris Marino, Rick Dane Jr., and assistant trainer Conor Flynn. Allard, Banca, Oakes and Marino were barred by Gural from racing at Meadowlands prior to the indictments. Banca and Allard are the runaway leaders at the current Yonkers Raceway meet, combining for 367 wins in 2020 before racing was suspended due to COVID-19 after the March 9 card. Gural believes there will be more indictments in the weeks and months to come. "People will (provide information to authorities)," Gural said. "Anyone who used these people who were indicted cannot be sleeping well." By Bob Ehalt Reprinted with permission of bloodhorse.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The Preferred Pace at the Meadowlands Saturday night may have lacked quantity, but it did not lack for quality - or a thrilling finish - as None Bettor A recorded a narrow harness racing victory over Trump Nation in 1:50.4. After Endeavor scratched, the $30,000 event was down to a field of five, and in the early going 4-5 favorite Trump Nation, who was in search of a fifth straight Big M score, put even-money second choice None Bettor A in the pocket. There wasn't much action to the half, which was clocked in :56.1, but with three-eighths of a mile to go, Andy McCarthy edged None Bettor A to the outside as Yannick Gingras and Trump Nation braced for the challenge. Then, the action went from pedestrian to pulse-pounding. Trump Nation dug in through the length of the stretch as the Andrew Harris-trained None Bettor A relentlessly continued to inch closer, and at the wire, it took the photo-finish camera to determine that None Bettor A, making his seasonal debut, had nosed out Trump Nation. Both recorded final quarters of :26.1. Rodeo Rock was explosive late after racing last to the top of the stretch to finish third. Harambe Deo and Franco Totem N cashed the final two checks. "I've trained Trump Nation [in the past]," said Harris. "And I know how quick his turn of foot is. But I won't lie. When I saw those fractions, I was not sure what to think. But this being None Bettor's first start, and against top horses, I'm very pleased. He's tuned up and ready for stakes season. "He will skip next week most likely. Then on to the [March 14] Borgata Series [at Yonkers]. And he's staked up pretty good, so we will play it by ear as we go and he will tell us what he's ready for and when." None Bettor A returned $4.20 to win as the second choice in the wagering. The 7-year-old gelded son of Bettor's Delight-Limerick Star, who is owned by Joe P Racing and Oldford Racing, now has 29 wins in 77 lifetime starts and earnings of $459,445. POWERFUL PICK-6 POOL: The 20-cent Pick-6, which had a carryover of $11,270 from Friday, saw $77,512 in "new money" for a total pool of $88,782. A formful sequence saw four favorites, one even-money second choice and one 5-1 shot combine to create a payoff of $288.98. WILD WAGERING WEEKEND: For a second straight night, betting was less than $30,000 away from the magic $3-million mark, but was more than enough to complete the biggest weekend of betting at the Big M in 2020. After $2,973,673 was pushed through the windows Saturday, the third best single night of the year, the weekend total reached $5,944,408. A LITTLE MORE: When Jeff Dauplaise, 58, moved Soho Chelsea A along the inside to win the 11th race, it gave the veteran driver his first win at the Meadowlands since Dec. 5th of 2015. Lifetime, he's won 228 races. ... Dexter Dunn led the driver colony with four wins on the card. ... Gingras had a driving double, lifting his February win total to a track-best 23. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6:55 p.m.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Yannick Gingras was the star of the night at the Meadowlands Friday, guiding five winners on the harness racing card, including Dayson, who won the featured high-end conditioned trot in 1:52.3. The 7-year-old gelded son of Conway Hall-Nervey's Taurus emerged from a first-turn scrum in perfect position, racing in the pocket behind the speedy Nows The Moment, who was on the point to the head of the stretch despite being pressed around the far turn by Kenziesky Hanover. Through the lane, Nows The Moment weakened, and as he did he bore out, creating more than enough room for Dayson to cruise under the wire first racing along the inside. It was a half-length back to 8-5 favorite Eye Ofa Tiger As. Elysium Lindy, who won this race a week ago, was trip compromised when pushed wide around turn one and raced from the back of the field before charging home to get third. Nows The Moment was fourth. "He raced great," said Gingras of Dayson. "He's such a game horse and tries hard." Dayson, who returned $8.20 to his backers as the second choice in the wagering, races out of the Ron Burke barn and is owned by Burke Racing Stable & Weaver Bruscemi, J&T Silva-Purnel&Libby and L. Karr. He now has 38 victories from 89 lifetime outings, good for earnings of $1,181,127. Burke had a huge night, winning four races. He hooked up three times with his go-to pilot Gingras. PICK-6 REPORT: A total of $76,682 in "new money" was added to the carryover of $14,376 in the 20-cent Pick-6, meaning that players were betting into a rare "player's advantage" pool. A total of $79,555 was paid out, almost $3,000 more than was pushed through the windows. There were many winning tickets in the Pick-6, as the payoff of $238.98 was the result of a sequence that saw winner's odds of 7-2, 1-1, 5-2, 5-2, 6-5 and 6-5. The action was big in all four of the Big M's multi-leg wagers, as a total of $290,158 was wagered in the 20-cent Pick-5, 20-cent Pick-6 and two 50-cent Pick-4 pools. The Late Pick-4 took in $75,592, by far its best showing in five tries since debuting earlier this month. A LITTLE MORE: The Nancy Takter-trained JK American Beauty - who now has lifetime earnings of $422,790 - made her 4-year-old debut a winning one, taking the fifth race high-end conditioned pace for fillies and mares in a lifetime-best 1:50.2 with Gingras driving. ... All-source handle totaled $2,689,916 on the 13-race program, the best Friday night thus far in 2020 and third-best overall. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6:55 p.m.   By Dave Little Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - A new post time of 6:55 p.m. and new betting choices highlighted the harness racing action at the Meadowlands Friday night, and despite no horse paying off at double-digit odds through the first nine races, the payoffs for the 20-cent Pick-5, 20-cent Pick-6 and Early 50-cent Pick-4 were all extremely attractive. The Pick-5, which saw its base bet decrease from 50 cents, saw a typical pool of $55,082, which is more than double the wager's $25,000 guarantee. But with bettors "spreading" their tickets further, the resulting payoff of $1,335.10 was superb given that the odds of the winners during the sequence were 4-1, 9-2, 3-2, 8-5 and 6-1. The horses in the third and fourth legs were the post-time favorites. The Pick-6, which will no doubt offer attractive carryovers on occasion in the coming weeks, paid off on six-for-six to the tune of $3,056.56. All the winners were 6-1 or less - with one exception - as Muscle Fashion won the seventh race, paying $20.80 to win. The Big M's "signature" wager - the Early 50-cent Pick-4 - now begins in race six, and after Say You Do sat a perfect pocket trip to surge past Rubber Duck to win at 5-1 in the payoff leg, those who hit cashed in for $758.90. The key to hitting was Leg One, when players included 4-1 shot Resita, who upset 2-5 favorite Max. Say You Do The Late 50-cent Pick-4 also yielded a solid payout despite favorites winning the last two legs. A 16-1 shot started the sequence followed by a 6-1 leading to another four-figure payoff, at $1,130.90. All-source wagering on the 13-race card surpassed the $2.5-million mark for a fourth straight program as $2,534,709 was put in play. A LITTLE MORE Corey Callahan, Andy Miller, Tyler Buter and Dexter Dunn all recorded driving doubles on the program. ... Windy conditions made things tough on horses racing on the front end all night long. Handicappers should take that into consideration when looking at those horses who raced on this card and showed speed. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6:55 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

Freehold, NJ --- They call him "Diamond Jim", and he had a gem of an afternoon on Saturday (January 25) at Freehold Raceway. Harness racing driver Jim Marshall III won four of the eleven races on the program.   He didn't waste any time, taking race 1 with Brandon Mongiello's Northern Jack ($4.40). After missing in races 2 and 3, he bounced back in the 4th race, guiding the John Bavosi-trained gelding Tie Your Shoe Ed ($5) to his second consecutive win.   Marshall completed the hat trick with Bullet Bob ($5.80) in race 6, for trainer Mark Harder. He had three chances to complete the grand slam, and did so in race 11 with R M Blackhawk ($2.60). That win also gave Mongiello his second training win of the day.   The veteran driver has gotten off to a strong start in 2020.   On the calendar year, he's won 15 races from 88 starts, good for third place in the Freehold driver standings.   Since Freehold restarted on August 30, Marshall has 40 victories in 336 drives.   Live racing resumes at Freehold on Thursday, beginning at 12:30 PM EST. Marshall is named to drive in every race on the card.   Northern Jack     Tie Your Shoe Ed     Bullet Bob     R M Blackhawk

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - In the unlikely event you weren't sure who the best trotter on the grounds at the Meadowlands was before Saturday night's harness racing feature, there was positively no doubt after. Despite taking two weeks off, the red-hot Pappy Go Go upped his winning streak to three after taking the $37,500 Preferred in 1:52.2 over a track rated 'good' with a -1 variant, missing his lifetime best by just two-fifths of a second. The Andrew Harris trainee never had an anxious moment after being sent to the gate as the 8-5 favorite in the talented field of seven as driver Corey Callahan - who won five races on Friday's card - hit the gas pedal early with the 6-year-old gelded son of Tad The Stud-Paging Willy from post seven and made the front while parked at the quarter after a headstrong Misslarose yielded the top in :27.2. Pappy Go Go trotted easily through the second fraction while unpressured in :27.3 as Misslarose sat the pocket. Morairtime, who was so good winning eight days ago after going a first-over trip, was in gear making up ground while racing on the rim uncovered. After three-quarters was reached in 1:23.4, Pappy Go Go accelerated, opening up a 3-length edge at the head of the stretch on the way to an easy 3½-length score. Morairtime was second with Misslarose third. "I wasn't worried about the layoff at all," said Harris. "He'd been prepping every week in between. They just didn't have a Preferred for him, so hopefully, horses start entering so I can race him a little more." Is Pappy Go Go the type of horse who can go with the game's best? "I don't have any big dreams for him," said Harris. "He's a nice open horse, but realistically, I can't spend money staking him to go against the likes of Manchego and Atlanta. So, we'll race in the Preferred and try to keep him happy and fresh and being the big fish in the pond until the floods come later." Pappy Go Go returned $5.40 to his fans and has now won 32 of 83 career outings, good for earnings of $249,547 for owners Michael Goldberg Racing. ANOTHER GIANT MILE: The Robert Cleary-trained Harambe Deo went parked for a little more than the final half-mile and had no trouble blowing away his foes in the pacing feature, a high-end conditioned event with a $31,250 purse. The 5-year-old gelded son of Woodstock-Tea Time, who was the 8-5 favorite, stopped the clock in 1:50.4 with Tyler Buter in the bike to win for the third time in his last five starts. McThriller finished second, 1¼ lengths behind. A LITTLE MORE: Tim Tetrick had the hot hand, leading the driver colony with four winners. Buter, Drew Monti and Vinny Ginsburg had two apiece. ... The 20-cent Survivor Pick-10 failed to pay at least $3,000 for an eighth straight time, but it came close, as three players lasted eight legs and cashed in for $2,611.98. ... The 20-cent Can-Am Pick-4 came back $175.32, the key to cashing being Leg One, when Heza Thrill N won at Woodbine Mohawk Park at odds of 7-1. ... All-source handle totaled $2,667,043. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Last Friday, Major Occasion A flew home in :25.3, but because she was eighth at three-quarters while three-wide, had to settle for second at the hands of rival Sandy Win, who would win a third straight harness racing start. Driver Dexter Dunn made sure that wasn't going to happen again. Major Occasion A, instead of racing from well off the pace as she had in her first two North American outings, was hustled to the top at the half this time around and had little trouble from there, recording an easy score in the Friday night feature at the Meadowlands, a $25,000 high-end conditioned pace for fillies and mares. Dunn, who would go on to win four times on the program after his incredible seven-winner night last Saturday, had Major Occasion A in the four-hole early before brushing up to take command at the half while parked before settling in on the point. Ideal Lifestyle A was left first-over at this point while applying token pressure as Major Occasion A used a :27.1 third quarter to maintain a safe 1½-length lead on the pocket-sitting Odds On St Lucie. Through the stretch, no one threatened the 1-2 favorite, who reported home an easy 1¾-length winner in 1:51 after pacing her final half in 54.2. Odds On St Lucie held second with Wisdom Tree rallying for third. Sandy Win failed in her bid for a fourth straight score, settling for fourth after racing three-wide at three-quarters from mid-pack. Major Occasion A, a 6-year-old daughter of Art Major-Fake Occasion who is trained by Nifty Norman, returned $3.00 to her backers and has now won 16 times from 51 lifetime starts for owners Enzed Racing Stable. Her earnings stand at $193,280. For Dunn, it was merely another day at the salt mine, with one - make that two - exceptions. The 30-year-old New Zealand native did score with the heavy favorite in the feature and with 4-1 Hammer Time in a mid-range conditioned trot, but he also won with a pair of longshots. The 2019 United States Harness Writers Association's Driver of the Year guided 20-1 Bold Goddess to victory lane in a low-end conditioned trot and also scored with the night's biggest price of the night with 26-1 chance Auteur Hanover, who hit the wire first in another low-end conditioned trot. Dunn now has 18 winners at the winter meeting and is well in front of Corey Callahan, whose driving double gave him 10 victories, good for second in the driver standings. A PAIR OF FOURS: Yannick Gingras is apparently not interested in Dunn running away with the driver's title, as the Big M overall driver champ from 2019 also guided four to the winner's circle. A LITTLE MORE: One sharp player betting into the Oregon Express hub held the only ticket to last five legs in the 20-cent Survivor Pick-10 and walked away with $8,596.70. The wager has now paid at least $3,526.86 during each of the last five race cards. ... Chalk players took it on the chin most of the night as only two favorites won over the first 12 races, which helped bolster the payouts of the 50-cent Pick-5 ($6,292.35) and 50-cent Pick-4 ($3,155.05). ... All-source wagering on the card totaled $2,416,176. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m.   By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The Meadowlands delivered full harness racing fields to its faithful last week (Dec. 19-21), and the following bet with both hands. The previous week of racing (Dec. 12-14) saw handle that totaled $5,388,738 over the three-card race week. Last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, handle was $6,121,558, an increase of 13.6 percent. "With some of the other tracks in our region not racing, we have been able to take advantage and provide better opportunities for our players due to our horsemen energetically supporting our entry box," said Big M Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "And, once again this weekend, we will provide them with more chances to cash some big tickets." A handful of big hits have come in the track's 50-cent Pick-5, which always comes with a guaranteed pool of $25,000 and a low 15 percent takeout, as the last four times the bet has been offered the payout has been at least four figures. The streak began Dec. 14 when one superb player held the only ticket to pick all five winners and walked away with $33,773. On Dec. 19 and Dec. 20, the payouts were $1,006 and $2,050, respectively, before a lone-winning-ticket holder cashed $29,478 on Dec. 21. The Big M's signature bet, the 50-cent Pick-4, may not have provided the payoffs of the Pick-5, but that did not deter players from going deep. Last week, the pools from Thursday through Saturday were, $60,029, $72,380 and $94,408, respectively. Free program pages for the Pick-4 - which offers a $50,000 guaranteed pool on Fridays and Saturdays - are always available at playmeadowlands.com and ustrotting.com. The carryovers for the track's two 20-cent Jackpot Super High-Fives continue to expand, as bettors on Thursday will shoot for starting pots of $17,076 (Race 5) and $67,864 (Race 11). The Meadowlands will race one additional Thursday night card. Not only will the Big M race this Thursday (Dec. 26), but will also host a live card on Jan. 2. As always, post time is 7:15 p.m. For the fields on Thursday night click here. DECEMBER'S DYNAMIC DUO: The Big M's top two drivers have been killing it at the mile oval this month. Yannick Gingras has 21 wins during December, while Dexter Dunn - who is the overall leader at the Fall Meeting - has 20. Following the top two for the month are Andy Miller (11 wins) and Andy McCarthy (10). Gingras had five victories last Thursday, leading to 10 wins for the week. Dunn had six while Andy Miller had five. Fans will not get to bet on Gingras for a while, though, as he will be on vacation for the next few weeks. Nick Surick tops the December trainer's race with six wins, followed by Jeff Cullipher and Andrew Harris, who have five each, and Harry Landy, who has four. SEASON'S GREETINGS: Settlemoir's holiday message to all: "On behalf of our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Gural, and all of us here at the Meadowlands, I'd like to wish everybody a joyous holiday season. We appreciate our employees, horsemen and faithful fans for being loyal to our product. We hope everybody takes some time to be with family and friends while celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas and hope everyone has a healthy and happy New Year." COMING UP: On Dec. 27, card players who are 21 or older can play Texas Hold'em on "Free Poker Friday", hosted by World Free Poker. ... On Friday and Saturday "Win Your Share" when the Big M puts $2,019 up for grabs. Ten contestants will be selected after Race 6 to win betting vouchers ranging in value from $100-$500. The entry form is available in the live racing program or at the Players Club Desk. ... Looking ahead, on Jan. 11, the Big M will host a $400 qualifier for the World Harness Handicapping Championship. For more information, go to playmeadowlands.com. HOLIDAY SCHEDULE: Big M Fans are reminded that the track will be closed for simulcasting on December 29 and will be open on New Year's Eve from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. The operating schedule for the Big M's FanDuel Sportsbook will see bettors able to get their action on New Year's Eve from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and on New Year's Day from 10 a.m.-1 a.m. Speaking of action, college football fans are sure to be fired up for the College Football Playoff that takes place on Saturday (Dec. 28). At 4 p.m., 4th-ranked Oklahoma takes on No. 1 LSU, while at 8 p.m., No. 2 Ohio State faces No. 3 Clemson, who are the defending national champions. In addition, on Sunday (Dec. 29), watch and wager on all Week 17 National Football League games. The NFL playoffs begin Jan. 4. Meadowlands Media Relations  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Except for a break two starts back, Rich And Miserable has raced well for some time now without getting a win. He ended that drought by taking the featured Preferred Handicap for trotters at the Meadowlands Friday night to end a six-race losing streak. His last win came on Sept. 28 at Yonkers Raceway. All eyes were on Southwind Chrome early. The 3-5 favorite was assigned post 10 (scratched down to post 9) and was seeking his third straight score against the best horses at the Big M. Driver Dexter Dunn left the gate with Southwind Chrome, but there were leavers to his inside, which pushed him extremely wide into the first turn. Southwind Chrome settled into an early six-hole and waited for a live tow, which he got from Rich And Miserable before the half after that one vacated the three-hole after the quarter. Longshot Joey Bats (15-1) led the field past the first three calls, but Rich And Miserable was right at his throat on the far turn as Southwind Chrome tipped off his cover to race three-wide. Southwind Chrome had trouble handling the turn and lost ground for the final three-sixteenths-of-a-mile sprint to the finish, which brought his win streak to an end. Rich And Miserable kept chipping away at the leader's advantage, finally moving to get a short edge on Joey Bats at the head of the stretch. From there, the 4-year-old gelded son of Explosive Matter-Wishful Me extended his lead while keeping a super-game Joey Bats at bay to record a three-quarter-length win in 1:52.1. Cruising In Style, a 60-1 outsider, outkicked Southwind Chrome - who went well once straightened up - for the show dough. Rich And Miserable paid $8.80 to win as the second choice in the wagering. Driven by Tyler Buter and trained by his dad Todd, Rich And Miserable - whose last Meadowlands win came on July 20 - now has 16 victories from 45 career starts, good for earnings of $400,422 for owners Buter Farm, Lynette Buter, William Fuhs and Carol Fuhs. A LITTLE MORE: Driver Yannick Gingras followed up his five-winner Thursday with three more on Friday. ... Andy Miller, Tyler Buter, Dexter Dunn and Eric Abbatiello had two apiece. ... One patron playing into the Ontario hub was the only holder of a 20-cent Survivor Pick-10 ticket to last six legs and collected $9,407. ... All-source handle totaled $2,428,157. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m.     By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

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