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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Harness racing driver Tim Tetrick recently returned to The Meadowlands after spending the winter racing at Dover Downs, and based on Saturday night's results, the 39-year-old Hall of Famer hasn't missed a Big M beat by winning four races on the card, including both $30,000 features, one on the pace and the other on the trot. Ana Afreet N, back from an unsuccessful stint at Yonkers racing in the Borgata series where he finished no better than fourth in three starts, held off 3-5 favorite Colossal Stride A in a thrilling finish in the Preferred for pacers back at the track where he was an impressive wire-to-wire winner on March 6. Tetrick was intent on racing on the point in the seven-horse field. "If they were going to go a half in :55," said Tetrick. "I might as well be cutting it and make that horse of Dexter's [Dunn, driving Colossal Stride A] chase me, so it just worked out. My horse is a nice horse, he just didn't like the four turns at Yonkers. It just didn't agree with him and he couldn't get around there." Around two turns at The Big M, it was a far different story. Yacht Seelster was on the move early and looped Ana Afreet N to grab the lead at the quarter in :27.2. Tetrick immediately moved Ana Afreet N back to the lead and hit the half in :55.4 and three-quarters in 1:23.3. Colossal Stride A, the 3-5 favorite, moved from the four-hole just after the half and made his way closer to the leader gradually while racing first-over, and continued his constructive grind throughout the stretch drive. But at the wire, it was Ana Afreet N holding on by a diminishing nose. Vettel N was third. The time for the mile was 1:49.4. ANA AFREET N REPLAY   "I was a little nervous [in deep stretch]," said Tetrick. "Especially when you look back and have Dex coming at you. Luckily, my horse dug in and made me look good." Trained by Jeff Cullipher and owned by Pollack Racing and Cullipher, Ana Afreet N returned $8.40 to win as the second choice in the betting. The 6-year-old son of Bettor's Delight - Anna Livia has now won 24 of 50 lifetime starts, good for earnings of $198,272. In the marquee trot, Scirocco Rob stayed on a roll, as the Mark Silva trainee won for the fourth time in five starts. The 6-year-old gelded son of Explosive Matter - Fun At Parties stopped the clock in an eye-popping 1:50.3 to lower his previous lifetime best by a full second. Things could not have gone any better for the 4-5 favorite, who worked out an ideal pocket trip behind the speedy Nows The Moment (Mark MacDonald), who cut out fractions of :26.4, :54.3 and 1:22.2 before Tetrick tipped Scirocco Rob out of the pocket with an eighth of a mile to go and roared home to an easy 4¼-length score. Nows The Moment held second with Morairtime third. SCIROCCO ROB REPLAY   "My horse is very versatile," said Tetrick. "Last week, he was second-over at Dover and won. Tonight, it worked out perfect." Sitting off quick fractions in the abbreviated six-horse field (JL Cruze was scratched), Tetrick loved his spot. "I was thinking, just don't fall off," said Tetrick. "I was pretty confident. My horse was tracking so good." "I was just trying to have a little fun," said Tetrick when asked about looking back at MacDonald as he went by in the stretch. "Mark was laughing, I was laughing, so it was kind of fun." Scirocco Rob returned $3.60 to his backers in winning for the 28th time from 81 lifetime starts. His bankroll stands at $551,604 for owners Lewis and Kathleen Whitaker. WHATTA WEEKEND: With the track's two signature Pick-4s accounting for over $240,000 of action to go along with a pair of potent carryovers, all-source wagering totaled $3,782,327. When you add in Friday's $3.23 million handle, that brought the total of $7-million wagering weekends at The Big M to four on the year. CARRYOVER CRAZY: The 20-cent Pick-6 pool started out with $9,019 before $64,105 in "new money" was added for a total of $73,124. Those who hit all six winners collected $877.14. The 10-cent Pentafecta/Hi-5 had a carryover of $32,103 before $84,462 was added for a total of $116,565. Those with tickets bearing the combination of 5-1-9-3-7 cashed in for $141.84. A LITTLE MORE: After only four favorites won on the previous two programs combined, chalk players had smiles on their faces Saturday as six post-time choices hit victory lane. ... Cullipher trained three winners on the card while Bruce Saunders had two. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m. For full race results, click here. by Dave Little, for The Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - When harness racing longshot Lotus Seelster lit up the tote board in Friday night's 13th race at The Meadowlands, handicappers no doubt got right to work on the Saturday program given the opportunities that await. The 83-1 shot, driven by Simon Allard and trained by Mark Capone, paid $168.20 to win, and in the process, set up a pair of tantalizing carryovers for Saturday's card. No one had a winning ticket on the 20-cent Pick-6, creating a carryover of $9,019. Those with five correct collected $85.90. The 10-cent Hi-5/Pentafecta also went unhit, as no one had the winning combination of 9-1-3-10-4, resulting in a carryover of $32,103. Free program pages for the Saturday card - as well as every Big M program - are available by going to the track's website, playmeadowlands.com. A FABULOUS FRIDAY: Thus far in 2021, handle numbers have been superb at The Meadowlands, and that trend continued Friday night, as the Big M saw its biggest night of wagering this year on a Friday as all-source betting totaled $3,237,137 on the 13 races. The sixth race served as the catalyst for yet another $3 million night of betting, the 19th out of 28 cards this year, as a total of $383,474 was put in play, $104,470 of that in the Early 50-cent Pick-4. The eighth race took in a total of $305,550 before the 10th race saw $295,705 of action, with $94,445 of that bet on the Late 50-cent Pick-4. 'ART' WINS ANOTHER: Preppy Art was claimed by trainer Kyle Spagnola for $12,500 last week and paid immediate dividends to his connections by crushing his foes in the second leg of the GSY Series on the pace. The 9-year-old gelded son of Art Colony - Electric Smile was clear of the field by 4¾ lengths at the conclusion of a season's-best 1:53.2 mile. As the 9-5 second choice, Preppy Art returned $5.80 after using a huge brush down the backside when called upon by driver Robert Hechkoff to win for the fourth time in his last five starts. PREPPY ART REPLAY   THE KIDS ALRIGHT: Tyler (T.J.) Miller made his parents proud by winning twice on the card. The 23-year-old son of Andy and Julie Miller guided Gottalovemyshadow (race eight, $12.40 to win) and Bettor Notbitter A (race 12, $7.80) to victory lane to up his numbers at the meeting to four wins from just 23 starts (17 percent) Both of Miller's victories were with horses trained by Edwin Quevedo, who finished the night with three victories. A LITTLE MORE: Mark MacDonald and Scott Zeron joined Miller with two driving victories apiece. ... Chalk players took it on the chin, as for a second consecutive card only two public choices went to the winner's circle. Favorites have won just four times over the last 26 races (15 percent). ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m. For full race results, click here. by Dave Little, for The Meadowland  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Business at The Meadowlands continued its remarkable early stages of 2021 run, as after a highly-successful first quarter, action at the mile oval stayed vigorous as the second quarter kicked off last weekend with a pair of $3-million handles, upping the total number of harness racing cards that have surpassed that magic number to 18 on the year. During all of 2020, the $3-million barrier was broken a total of 11 times. Much of the success The Big M has experienced can be attributed to the half-dozen popular wagers offered nightly that offer a low takeout of 15 per cent. A prime example is last weekend's action in the extremely popular Pick-4, when the bet - which is offered four times every weekend - took in a total of $367,866 of action, an average per pool of $91,966. Meadowlands management is convinced that when you return more to the bettors, the more bettors will bet. "All of us at The Meadowlands feel that low takeout is a key component in bringing horseplayers of all breeds to wager on our track," said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "The Big M offers six chances a night to play into low 15 percent takeout pools. Another significant reason to the play The Meadowlands is that we offer only one wager (the trifecta, 25 percent) that has a takeout higher than 20 percent. Judging by our rapidly growing business this year, players around the world seem very appreciative for the built-in value created by our price-conscious wagering menu." Here is the takeout breakdown at the Big M: 15%: 50-cent Pick-4, 20-cent Pick-5, 20-cent Pick-6, 20-cent Survivor Pick-7, 10-cent Pentafecta/Hi-5 17%: Win, Place and Show 19%: Exacta, Daily Double 20%: Pick-3, 10-cent Superfecta 25%: Trifecta Saturday night saw betting total $3,444,133, with two popular multi-leg bets showing big returns, with the Pick-4 averaging $101,770 per pool while the first race Pick-5 saw action of $82,960. The ever-reliable exacta, which is available on every race, averaged $72,997, accounting for almost $950,000 of action on the night, more than one quarter of the total handle. Some potent payoffs from last weekend included Friday's Early Pick-4 ($3,556), Survivor ($15,231) and Pentafecta/Hi-5 ($1,224). Saturday's big payouts came in the Pick-5 ($1,632), Survivor ($6,506) and Pick-6 ($12,209). FINAL DERBY PREP: The last prep for the May 1 Kentucky Derby is on Saturday (April 10) as the $1-million Arkansas Derby takes place at Arkansas' Oaklawn Park. The card will be offered as part of an extensive simulcasting menu at The Meadowlands. The Oaklawn card has a post time of 1 p.m. with the Arkansas Derby slated to go as race 12 at 7:41 p.m. The horse to beat is the Joel Rosario-ridden, Bob Baffert-trained Concert Tour, who is the even-money morning-line favorite. There are four stakes events on the 13-race program that feature purses of at least $250,000. GET SOCIAL: You can always check in with the team at The Meadowlands on Twitter. For early changes, racing information and staff selections, go to @themeadowlands or #playbigm. On race nights, stay in touch with the Big M's Dave Brower (@eedoogie), Dave Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Ken Warkentin (@kenvoiceover), Andrew Demsky (@shadesonracing) and Jessica Otten (@JessicaOtten1). $100,000 GUARANTEED: Every night, The Meadowlands guarantees big green on both editions of its signature wager, as each 50-cent Pick-4 sports a guaranteed pool of $50,000. The wagers span races 6-9 and 10-13. CHECK OUT THE PICKS: For those who need to get a leg up on the action, go to playmeadowlands.com to see track oddsmaker and analyst Brower's selections and commentary. Click on the "handicapping" tab and go to "race reviews". Brower's input is generally available 48 hours before every card. THE SCHEDULE: Live racing continues every Friday and Saturday with a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m. Big M TV's live "Racing from The Meadowlands" pre-game show, which provides news and notes, features, a look at that evening's featured action and staff selections, gets underway at 5:47 p.m. BET THE MASTERS: Golf's biggest event of the year, The Masters, tees off Thursday (April 8) morning and the place to watch and wager on all the action is at The Meadowlands' FanDuel Sportsbook. Some of the bets that will be available include Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson, who are both +950 to wear the Green Jacket Sunday evening. Next up at +1100 are Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. How about making the cut? DeChambeau leads the way at -1150, followed by Johnson, Thomas and Jon Rahm, all of whom are -1100. How about the top finishing former winner? Johnson is at +175, followed by Spieth (+250), Patrick Reed (+550) and Sergio Garcia (+900). All odds shown were as of Wednesday evening. The sportsbook is open Sunday-Friday from 10 a.m.-midnight and Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 a.m. The cash counter is open from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. by Dave Little, for the Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Colossal Stride A was wound up early in the Saturday night harness racing feature at The Meadowlands, so his driver Dexter Dunn had to change the game plan. Colossal Stride A, an Australian import who has been stateside for only a little more than two months, recorded his fourth win in six starts since shipping over from Down Under, taking the $27,500 high-end conditioned pace in a lifetime-best 1:50. In a field that saw one scratch decrease the field size to five, Dunn was on board with trying to win from off the pace with the 3-5 favorite. "I was planning on going to the back and chasing the horses home," said the Big M's current dash-win leader. "But when the gate closed, he hit his leg on my bike, so my horse got a little excited in the first turn, so we moved to the front." Dunn went after early leader Shnitzledosomethin and grinded his way to the top at the half in :54.3. On the far turn, Yacht Seelster, who defeated Colossal Stride A the last time the duo met on March 20, was on the go after moving from fifth after the half and inched closer to the leader as they straightened away for the final three-sixteenths. "My horse heard a noise coming," said Dunn, the two-time defending United States Harness Writers Association Driver of the Year. "When you have a good horse like that chasing you, you never know. But when my horse heard the other horses coming, he accelerated." Colossal Stride A then paced home in :27 to record a 1½-length win over Yacht Seelster. U S Captain was third. COLOSSAL STRIDE A REPLAY   A 6-year-old gelded son of Bettor's Delight -Tailamade Lombo who is trained by Nifty Norman, Colossal Stride A returned $3.40 to his backers. He now has 12 wins from 35 career starts, good for earnings of $94,413 for owners Paul Sunderhaus, Derek Menchhofer, En Ess Stable and Enzed Racing Stable. THE FAB FOUR: Leading trainer Jeff Cullipher padded his lead atop the Big M conditioner standings with four winners on the card. Cullipher, whose horses won 125 races during 2020, scored with Lovedbythemasses ($6.20 to win in the third race), Rose Run Vantage ($14.80, fifth), Bechers Brook A ($7.00, seventh) and Dealer's Table ($31.00, 10th). He now has 29 winners at the Big M's current Winter-Spring-Championship meeting, 14 more than Ron Burke, who sits in the second spot. A BETTING BONANZA: All-source wagering totaled $3,444,133 on the 13-race card, the 13th time out of 14 Saturdays this year betting has broken the $3-million barrier. Overall, the $3-million plateau has been reached 18 times out of a total of 27 programs during 2021. A year ago, betting was $3 million or more a total of 11 times. A LITTLE MORE: Betting on the 50-cent Pick-4s was vigorous, as the two popular puzzles combined to see action of just over $203,000. ... Dunn led the driver colony with three winners. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m. For full race results, click here. By Dave Little, for the Meadowlands 

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Preppy Art continues to be one of the more amazing stories in harness racing for a horse of modest class, as the veteran 9-year-old visited The Meadowlands winner's circle once again Friday night, this time in a claiming handicap pace with a top price tag of $12,500. The recipient of an ideal pocket trip, Preppy Art stormed past leader Northern Rock to record a convincing 2½-length score, his 24th lifetime from 151 starts, after stopping the clock in 1:54.3 as the 9-5 second choice in the wagering. The gelded son of Art Colony - Electric Smile wrote a remarkable story back in December of 2019. During 2018, he won exactly zero races from 30 starts before starting the following season winless in 21 outings. PREPPY ART REPLAY   With his losing streak at 59, he then caught fire, winning six in a row at the $7,500 claiming level to earn himself a legion of fans. He finished 2019 with eight wins in his last nine tries. He had an off year in 2020, finishing with a 15-race losing streak and just two victories from 20 starts on the season. But in 2021, he appears to be all the way back. After beginning the year winless in eight tries, Preppy Art, who has been seen for the most part in the GSY Series, has been victorious in three of his last four, with his only loss coming to the razor sharp So So De Vie one week ago in the GSY Series Final. On Friday, he scored with Andy McCarthy in the bike for trainer Edwin Quevedo, and in his next start, he'll attempt to keep rolling for new connections, as trainer Kyle Spagnola took the sharp sort for $12,500. ONES TO WATCH: The Nancy Takter-trained Really Fast, a $700,000 purchase at the Lexington Select Yearling Sale, did not disappoint as the 1-9 favorite in a non-winners of two on the trot, winning his first career start from off the pace in 1:55 for driver Yannick Gingras. The 3-year-old son of Muscle Hill - Stubborn Belle moved to the outside from the four-hole at the half and steadily made up ground on the leaders around the far turn, and went on to an easy 2½-length win when leader Light Blue Movers went off stride during the stretch drive. Really Fast is owned by Brixton Medical, Hatfield Stables and Marvin Katz. Using a dazzling burst of speed down the backstretch to grab the lead, Whole Lotta Lou was beyond impressive staying perfect in two starts this year, taking a non-winners of two on the pace by 4½ lengths in 1:52.1 as the 3-5 public choice. "I didn't really have it in the game plan to do that," said winning driver McCarthy of the backside brush. "But Simon's [Allard, driving Itzalldowntoluck N] horse looked like he was about to drop anchor, so I decided to make the move. He's a little green but he finished up well. He's got a little bit more to learn. I had to keep telling him what to do. He had a lot more pace than he was showing. I think this is a pretty nice colt." A 3-year-old son of Sweet Lou - Ideal Love, Whole Lotta Lou, who is trained by Stacy Chiodo, won for the second time from just four lifetime outings for owners Timothy Tobias Stable. A LITTLE MORE: Yannick Gingras led the driver colony with three winners on the card. ... All-source wagering totaled $3,044,446, the 17th time this year the $3-million barrier has been busted. During all of 2020, the $3-million plateau was reached a total of 11 times. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m. From the Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - A fast opening quarter is sometimes a bad thing in harness racing, given that in the latter stages of the mile, the horse who sprinted to the top might be on fumes in deep stretch. But management at The Meadowlands is thrilled at the giant opening quarter the track has experienced in 2021 from a business standpoint and hopes to continue that momentum right through the end of the year. In fact, the first quarter of 2021 at the mile oval - which concluded last Saturday (March 27) - has been one not seen in at least 10 years. "As the United States and New Jersey rebound from the pandemic of 2020," said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "The handle during the first quarter of 2021 at The Meadowlands indicates that our track has become an increasingly popular wagering destination with horseplayers around the world. The comparisons to previous years are staggering." Thus far in 2021, there have been 25 programs that have seen 341 races contested. The total handle of $81,192,515 computes to an average handle per card of $3,247,700, good for a per race of $238,101. Those numbers were far better than just one year ago, when 2020 saw an opening quarter of 21 nights (four were lost due to COVID-19) and 276 races account for total action of $55,149,060, which averaged out to $2,626,145 per night and $199,815 per race. When you make the comparison to 10 years ago, immediately before Jeff Gural saw fit to see racing continue at The Big M when the State of New Jersey decided it was getting out of the harness racing business, the differences were even more staggering. That year - 2011 - nightly business averaged $2,280,293 and the per race was $186,723, excellent on the current national harness racing scale, but a huge 28 percent less than the action seen this year at the industry's handle leader. When comparing nights where all-source wagering is $3 million, the numbers look favorably on 2021. During 2011, the first quarter saw one night where $3 million was bet. Last year, the magic number was bested twice during January, February and March, but so far this year, action has already busted the $3 million barrier a remarkable 16 times. Highest single handle of the quarter? Not surprisingly, 2021 has it by a lot, at $4.56 million, followed by 2011's $3.09M and 2020's $3.06M. "The Meadowlands and the State of New Jersey are proud to say that we are both coming back from the pandemic in a big way," said Settlemoir. "Thanks to the help of Gov. Murphy and the State Legislature, The Big M will once again be turned into a valuable asset, a sparkling facility that is full of life." That appears to be accurate, given the number of choices a patron has when they arrive at the facility. Take this Saturday (April 3), for example. During the day, simulcast fans can bet all the best Thoroughbred action in the country, as well as the NCAA Basketball Tournament's semifinals. Racing fans will have the Kentucky Derby on their minds as the three final major preps for the May 1 "Run for the Roses" take place. New York's Aqueduct Racetrack will host the Wood Memorial (which has a post time of 5:58 p.m.), California's Santa Anita Park has the Santa Anita Derby (6:30 p.m.) and Kentucky's Keeneland Race Course has the Bluegrass (6:35 p.m.). College hoop fans will have the opportunity to watch and wager on the Houston vs. Baylor (-5, -215 money line) game, which tips off at 5:14 p.m. Then, at 8:34 p.m., tournament favorite Gonzaga (-14, -1100) takes on UCLA. The two winners will meet in the championship game Monday (April 4) at 9 p.m. Of course, for those who like The Big M for the world's best harness action, clear weather is expected for Saturday, which will allow on-track patrons to relax outdoors in a safe socially distant setting, watching the races while enjoying the action with their favorite food and beverage. MORE MONEY: Effective Friday (April 2), The Meadowlands will offer purse increases ranging from $500 to $2,500, with the lower classes getting smaller boosts and the higher classes' purses swelling even more. There are several factors that went into the added green. "We take over a million dollars a year from sports betting for purses," said Jeff Gural, the chairman and chief executive officer of the mile oval. "We have sponsors and we received a subsidy from the state." The larger purses should give The Big M a leg up on area tracks with slots-revenue bloated purse structures in the never-ending battle for horses as the mile oval continues to card 13 races a night with as many 10-horse fields as possible. THE SCHEDULE: Live racing continues every Friday and Saturday with a first-race post time of 6:20 p.m. Big M TV's live "Racing from The Meadowlands" pre-game show, which provides news and notes, features, a look at that evening's featured action and staff selections, gets underway at 5:47 p.m. FREE, FREE, FREE: The Meadowlands offers past performances for every race of every card at no cost. To get your free PPs, go to The Big M's website, playmeadowlands.com. GET SOCIAL: You can always check in with the team at The Meadowlands on Twitter. For early changes, racing information and staff selections, go to @themeadowlands or #playbigm. On race nights, stay in touch with the Big M's Dave Brower (@eedoogie), Dave Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Ken Warkentin (@kenvoiceover), Andrew Demsky (@shadesonracing) and Jessica Otten (@JessicaOtten1). CHECK OUT THE PICKS: For those who need to get a leg up on the action, go to playmeadowlands.com to see track oddsmaker and analyst Brower's selections and commentary. Click on the "handicapping" tab and go to "race reviews". Brower's input is generally available 48 hours before every card. THE BIG M HAS THE BEST BOOK: The Meadowlands' FanDuel Sportsbook, the leading facility of its type in the country, will not only offer wagering on the college basketball tournament, but a plethora of other sports as well. For starters, Major League Baseball begins its 162-game regular season marathon at 1 p.m. on Thursday (April 1), and one of the games taking place will be the New York Yankees (-198) hosting the Toronto Blue Jays. In addition to the MLB, bettors can get action on the NBA, NHL, professional golf's Texas Open (where Jordan Spieth is the favorite at +430), and much, much more. The sportsbook is open Sunday-Friday from 10 a.m.-midnight and Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 a.m. The cash counter is open from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. From The Meadowlands

Black Magic Racing has announce the acquisition of the open pacer and stakes winner Dojea Gizmo after his stellar performance at the Meadowlands this past Saturday night (March 27).  The 4-year-old gelded son of Tellitlikeitis has been undefeated since he changed hands more than four months ago and will now begin racing at Miami Valley Gaming with the best horses in the state. DOJEA GIMO REPLAY   As part of Greg Luther’s goal in acquiring Grand Circuit stock, this is the eighth Grand Circuit level horse he’s picked up since October of last year. The Indiana-bred pacer is expected to make his first start for his new connections this Saturday at Miami Valley Gaming. From Black Magic Racing

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The potent pair of trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras were up to their usual tricks this weekend at The Meadowlands, as after teaming up to take the Friday night feature with April Ava they came right back to take Saturday's marquee event with Dojea Gizmo. Since debuting for the Burke barn on Nov. 13 of last year, the 4-year-old gelded son of Tellitlikeitis-Postmark has been perfect in six starts, visiting the winner's circle at Hoosier Park, Yonkers and Harrah's Philadelphia before his authoritative win at The Big M in a $22,500 high-end conditioned pace. "He is a really nice horse," said Gingras. "He could not have qualified any better [last week]. I was confident coming into tonight." DOJEA GIZMO REPLAY   Dojea Gizmo, who last raced on Dec. 20, was away quickly from post nine in the nine-horse field but was pushed wide into the first turn and had no spot to fall into as J M Mandamin sprinted to the lead at the quarter in :26.2. So the eventual winner had to go on with it. "It's not the way I wanted to race him in his first start of the year," said Gingras, who used a burst of speed to make the top while parked at the half in :54.4. "I wanted to get a spot mid-pack, but I didn't want to be first-up, so I moved to the front." Shortly after clearing the top, Dojea Gizmo was challenged by the first-over 8-5 favorite U S Captain, who won an easier assignment one week ago at The Big M in 1:50.2. Around the far turn, 'Gizmo' gave the chalk the cold shoulder and opened a 2¼-length edge as they straightened up before reporting home a safe neck winner in a lifetime-best 1:50.2. J M Mandamin, displaying speed at both ends of the mile, rallied well along the pylons to get second, with Yacht Seelster, who won this race a week ago, finishing third. "At the wire he was a little tired," said Gingras. "But I knew he was a winner." Dojea Gizmo paid $7.00 to win as the 5-2 second choice in the wagering. He now has 11 victories from 30 starts, good for earnings of $161,273 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and Phillip Collura. BEFORE THE BETTING CARD: In a pair of non-betting events before the start of the 13-race program, the John Balzer trained and driven Sound Idea took the $30,000 New Jersey Breeders Maturity for 4-year-old mares in a walkover (a one-horse race) in 2:05.4 while Rockin Jukebox, a Megan Foster trainee who was driven by Russell Foster, was 2¼-lengths better than his lone foe Bourbons Courage in 1:55.4 in the $30,000 NJBM for 4-year-old horses and geldings. A LITTLE MORE: Andy McCarthy, Gingras and Tim Tetrick led the driver colony with three winners apiece while the red-hot Stacy Chiodo trained a pair to victory lane. ... All-source wagering on the program totaled $2,928,308. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m. by Dave Little, for The Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - When April Ava won a week ago at The Meadowlands against mid-range harness racing conditioned stock despite not having raced in almost seven months, it wasn't a total surprise since she had performed credibly in her last two starts against similar late last summer. But Friday night at The Big M, the Ron Burke trainee took a considerable bump up in class and won again, taking the featured $22,500 high-end conditioned pace for fillies and mares in 1:52.2. "It just worked out tonight," said winning driver Yannick Gingras. "The mare responded when I called on her, so you have to give her credit for that." April Ava (post 3) blasted away from the gate, along with Marloe Hanover (post 7), Tango Dancer N (post 2), Betalady (post 6) and Wingding Hanover (post 1) in the nine-horse field. After making their way around the first turn, Marloe Hanover and driver Andy Miller settled in on the lead with April Ava opting for the pocket and Wingding Hanover the three-hole. For the second time in the last three weeks, Betalady, the 3-1 second choice, was left first-over and had to grind it out on the rim while inching closer to Marloe Hanover by the time they reached three-quarters, which was timed in an unspectacular 1:24. Then, the entire look of the race changed. Betalady went off stride, and in the process, took out the second-over Tango Dancer N, as well as the 6-5 favorite, Demeter N, who was in the flow third-up. "I was at the right place at the right time when that horse broke and scattered the field," said Gingras. Gingras and April Ava vacated the pocket as they swung into the stretch and needed every inch of the final three-sixteenths to record a nose victory over a stubborn Marloe Hanover. Wingding Hanover was third.       "I knew I had it at the wire," said Gingras. "The last 100 feet is not Marloe Hanover's strongest, but she kept on pacing. But mine was just a little bit better." As the 7-1 fourth choice in the wagering, April Ava, a 5-year-old daughter of Delmarvalous-Jenava, returned $16.20 to win. She now has 16 wins from just 47 career starts and earnings of $135,806 for owners Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi. MUCH MORE THAN SO-SO: Driver Jim Foley blasted So So De Vie away from post 10 and led at every call in the $14,000 GSY Series Final on the pace for amateur drivers. On a night where whipping winds were unkind to horses on the point, the 4-year-old gelded son of American Ideal-Place Your Best had little trouble going wire-to-wire in 1:55.3 for trainer Williams Hernandez. Preppy Art (John Calabrese), who was seeking his third straight victory, finished second - three-quarters-of-a-length behind the winner - as the 3-1 second choice with 3-5 favorite Sugartown (Tony Beltrami) getting the show dough.       "I thought being up closer would be the best option," said Foley. "I thought about getting away maybe fourth or fifth and making a brush down the backside, but he got up on the front really easy and all I had to do was rate him. If you can rate him good, he'll give you all he's got." As the 5-1 third choice in the betting, So So De Vie returned $13.60 to win. A LITTLE MORE: Tim Tetrick, who will be the guest Saturday night on The Big M's pre-game show segment "In the Sulky" at 5:50 p.m., drove the winners of both ends of the late daily double, joining Dexter Dunn and Gingras as pilots with two victories on the card. ... Chubby Stallworth and Stacy Chiodo both had training doubles. ... All-source handle totaled $2,637,320. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m. For full race results, click here. by Dave Little, for The Meadowlands

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands is announcing a tiered purse increase ranging from $500 to $2500 across the board, boosting Big M purses to the highest in the Northeast for virtually all of the money condition harness racing classes along with very competitive purses for the claimers. The increases are included in the purses on the upcoming condition sheet for April 2 & 3. Capitalizing upon the influx of 3 year-olds as they prepare for their regional stakes, the purses for the NW X Races types have been bumped to a substantially higher level banking on the idea that those horses will have an increased presence in the entry box over the next six weeks and give our horse playing audience some inviting fresh faces to handicap. There are several components that have helped to build The Meadowlands brand to the level at which it currently stands. The sport's best colony of drivers hang their tack at The Meadowlands where the finest track surface on the continent, meticulously groomed to ensure that racing will go on safely even under adverse conditions, and the constant vigil to exclude cheating trainers and provide a level playing field have provided our customers the best product possible upon which to wager. The resulting robust handle on the product thus far this season, along with over $1 million in purse revenue from sports betting added by Jeff Gural, the generosity of our many sponsors whose contributions help to defray the considerable cost of the stakes program and the grant of $4.5 million directed to overnight racing from the state of New Jersey have combined to fuel this purse increase. It is our hope that despite increased competition from the reopening of other tracks in the region, the purse increase will aid in attracting enough horses to allow The Meadowlands to continue to offer the same number of races with large fields that have resulted in the increased handle. The new condition sheet reflecting the purse bump is available on The Meadowlands website. From The Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - It was just 10 years ago that The Meadowlands was teetering on the brink of extinction. The State of New Jersey no longer wanted to be in the harness racing business and the possibility of the track shutting down was genuine. That's when Jeff Gural and his investors stepped in to save the flagship venue of Standardbred racing. "I thought that if The Meadowlands closed," said Gural, the chairman and chief executive officer of the mile oval. "That would be the end of harness racing. But harness racing is my passion. I own horses and two breeding farms. Literally, it was 48 hours to closing. Gov. Chris Christie, he was going to close it, no question in my mind. Truthfully, I was shocked, I thought he was bluffing. So I took a shot." The fact is, The Big M was still clinging to its claim as the top track in the game in March of 2011, but things were anything but grand. Business was poor, maybe not by industry standards at the time, but clearly - as compared to now - betting was anything but bustling. In 2011, average handle during January was $2,149,062. During February, that number was $2,077,952. During 2021, those numbers were $3,398,125 and $3,430,923, respectively, to represent an increase of $2.6 million per weekend. Gural opened New Meadowlands Racetrack in 2013 opposite the longtime facility with a structure that had a fresh new look built to more comfortably accommodate the betting public. Five years later, in 2018, sports betting came to the mile oval in the form of the FanDuel Sportsbook, and that facility became the most prolific of its kind in the country, including the properties in Las Vegas. "Sports betting has saved the day," said Gural. "Without it, we might be closed. As far as business goes, nobody ever dreamed we would be as dominant as we are. Choosing to partner up with FanDuel was obviously the right decision. Our sportsbook is the biggest in the world, nobody does as much business as we do and it's very rewarding to see that." Another factor in The Big M's resurgence came during 2019, when Gov. Phil Murphy and The New Jersey State Legislature provided economic stimulus to New Jersey's racing industry. By raising purses, Meadowlands management was able to offer a highly competitive purse structure as its battle with nearby states who have purse accounts bloated by slot machine revenues continues. The increased purses have enabled The Big M's race office to offer full fields and 13 races when racing takes place every Friday and Saturday night. "We got a subsidy from the state, so purses are OK," said Gural. "We take over a million dollars a year from sports betting for purses. We have sponsors. Compared to any other track in the country, when you look at the money we spend on stakes, it's staggering." Gural still has hopes for casino gaming in the Garden State, which could be a game-changer. "I think the best hope for The Meadowlands is to get a casino. Once downstate New York gets them, hopefully we would then get them, which would create a lot of revenue. I do think, long term, that we will get a casino." "The year 2020 is over," said Jason Settlemoir, the track's chief operating officer and general manager. "And looking back, it was a testament to how resilient The Meadowlands and the State of New Jersey are. "One year after COVID-19 shut the country down, and 10 years after The Big M appeared to be finished, the hard work of Jeff Gural, Gov. Murphy and the State Legislators has seen The Meadowlands increase handle 61 percent from 2011 to 2021. The Big M, the flagship track of Standardbred racing, continues to be the most popular nighttime signal of any breed in North America. When you think of excellence in Standardbred racing, you think of The Meadowlands Racetrack. Together, Mr. Gural and the state have created an incredibly valuable asset for New Jersey." "It's great to see how everybody is betting our product," said Gural of The Big M, which has seen wagering of over $3 million on all 12 Saturday night programs during 2021. "What's helped us is our driver colony. Andy McCarthy stayed here for the winter, and he brought his brother Todd over [from Australia]. Scott Zeron stayed here rather than go to Florida. Tim Tetrick is back and David Miller is expected next week. We really have the best drivers in the world driving here - no track comes close - and I think that makes for a great product." And, hopefully, an even better next 10 years to come. THIS ANNIVERSARY'S A GEM: On the "modern list", a 10-year anniversary is referred to as the diamond jewelry anniversary, and thanks to the efforts of Chris Schick, the co-owner of Cal-Expo in California, a gambling revolution kicked off a decade ago, when the United States Trotting Association partnered with member tracks to form the initiative known as Strategic Wagering. To create more interest in the game, Strategic Wagering has offered free program pages to players, as well as guaranteed pools, which is helping to increase the sport's popularity. Pools that are part of the initiative at The Meadowlands have exploded. Lowering takeout has also been a key factor as to why these wagers have flourished. "On behalf of horseplayers everywhere," said Settlemoir. "A heartfelt thank you to Mr. Schick and Strategic Wagering. Let's have another 10 great years." Free program pages for Strategic Wagering are always available at the USTA's website, ustrotting.com. THE SCHEDULE: Live racing takes place this Friday and Saturday night and has a post time of 6:20 p.m. The Big M TV's live simulcast presentation of its "Racing from the Meadowlands" pre-game show kicks off at 5:47 p.m. every live racing night. TETRICK "IN THE SULKY": Tim Tetrick will be Dave Little's guest Saturday night during the pre-game show on "In the Sulky". Tetrick, who returned to regular driving at The Big M last week, will talk about his career and some of the horses he is looking forward to driving during 2021. "In the Sulky" will begin at 5:50 p.m. and can be seen on The Meadowlands' live simulcast signal. SO, YOU WANT MORE ACTION? The Meadowlands' top-flight menu of simulcast tracks will be highlighted this Saturday (March 27) by the card that will take place at Florida's Gulfstream Park, which will play host to the Florida Derby, one of the final major preps for the May 1 Kentucky Derby. Players can expect a huge pool as the track will offer a mandatory payout of its Rainbow 6. The 14-race card at Gulfstream has a post time of 11:30 a.m. The Florida Derby - which is race 14 on the program - will go at 6:40 p.m. That evening, Woodbine at Mohawk Park - the preeminent harness track in Canada - will have a mandatory payout of its High-5, which takes place shortly after the conclusion of The Meadowlands' live card. FREE PPs: "Need a program? The Big M has you covered," said Settlemoir. "We offer free programs every night." The free past performances are available to anyone who goes to the track's website, playmeadowlands.com. GET SOCIAL: You can always check in with the team at The Meadowlands on Twitter. For early changes, racing information and staff selections, go to @themeadowlands or #playbigm. On race nights, stay in touch with the Big M's Dave Brower (@eedoogie), Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Ken Warkentin (@kenvoiceover), Andrew Demsky (@shadesonracing) and Jessica Otten (@JessicaOtten1). A HALF-DOZEN CHANCES: The Big M offers players six chances every night to make a score, betting on the track's popular wagers that offer a low 15 percent takeout. They are: Race 1: 20-cent Pick-5 Race 3: 20-cent Survivor Pick-7 Race 6: 50-cent Pick-4 Race 8: 20-cent Pick-6 Race 10: 50-cent Pick-4 Race 13: 10-cent Hi-5/Pentafecta $100,000 GUARANTEED: Every night, The Meadowlands guarantees big green on both editions of its signature wager, as each 50-cent Pick-4 sports a $50,000 guaranteed pool. CHECK OUT THE PICKS: For those who need to get a leg up on the action, go to playmeadowlands.com to see track oddsmaker and analyst Brower's selections and commentary. Click on the "handicapping" tab and go to "race reviews". Brower's input is generally available 48 hours before every card. THE MAYHEM CONTINUES: College basketball's stranglehold on the sports world for the month of March continues as the original field of 68 teams for the NCAA Tournament has now been whittled down to 16 with eight games this weekend. The action kicks off with four games Saturday (March 27), the first of which begins at 2:40 p.m. with the last of the quartet tipping off at 9:55 p.m. The marquee game pits the Villanova Wildcats against the Baylor Bears (-7½) at 5:15 p.m. On Sunday (March 28), the featured game is the first of the foursome, as tournament favorite, the undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs (-13), take on the Creighton Bluejays. Tipoff is at 2:10 p.m. The last game will start at 9:45 p.m. To watch and wager on all the games, come to The Big M's FanDuel Sportsbook. In addition to the college hoops, action will be available on professional golf's WGC Dell Matchplay, as well as a plethora of other sports, including the NBA, NHL, Premier and Champions League soccer, professional tennis and more. The sportsbook is open Sunday-Friday from 10 a.m.-midnight and Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 a.m. The cash counter is open from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. From the Meadowlands

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands Racetrack and Winners Off-Track Wagering in Bayonne will open at 8:30 a.m. this Saturday, March 27th for the simulcast of the Dubai World Cup card at Meydan Racecourse. The day features six Group 1 races worth $26.5 million including the $4 million Dubai Turf, the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic and the $12 million Dubai World Cup. Due to contractual restrictions, the Meadowlands and Winners Bayonne cannot offer Win, Show or Quinella wagers on the Dubai World Cup Simulcast. Post time for the 25th running of the Dubai World Cup is scheduled for 12:50 p.m. by Rachel Ryan, for The Meadowlands

Cream Ridge, NJ - 3/23/2021 - It has been more than a year of struggling without fundraisers to feed the more than 400 trotters and pacers at the Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF). Finally, one is on the calendar, SRF's 28th Annual Golf Outing!   We don't know of anyone who isn't absolutely excited to resume some fun, and SRF will be ready to deliver it on June 1, 2021. Once again, this year, the Meadowlands Racetrack is the event's Presenting Sponsor, and the course is as fabulous as ever, the private Battleground Country Club in Manalapan, NJ.   There is a putter or driver for every golfer, and The Million Dollar Shot now offers three golfers the chance to each take home that bundle of green. A $10,000 Hole-in-One is also an opportunity waiting on a winner!   Sponsorships are tax-deductible, ranging from $500 to $5,000, or any choice a supporter would like. All levels include a very generous media package and exposure to more than 10,000 monthly website visitors to SRF.   An intoxicating day outside awaits. It starts with registration and lunch on the patio from 11:30 to 12:45 PM, with a 1 PM Shotgun start. Cocktails and a full buffet dinner are from 6 to 7:30 PM where golf prizes will be awarded, as well as the door prize, silent auction, and more. A foursome is $860 if paid before May 18, 2021, and $940 after; a single golfer is $215 before May 18, 2021, and $235 after. For non-golfers, cocktails and dinner are only $59 per person.   Many items for SRF's annual online auction will be on display during cocktails and dinner. The auction link will be available on the website AdoptaHorse.org, from June 4th to June 7, 2021. Items anticipated are Vegas trips; an Italian culinary cooking trip, yes, in Italy; a fishing trip to the Florida Keys; sporting event tickets; Veterinary services; rides in racetrack starting gate cars; hang out in the track announcer's booth; gift certificates, unique jewelry, harness racing art and memorabilia, and much more.   To be a sponsor, a player, or donate to our auction and raffle, contact Tammy at SRF 609-738-3255 or via email at SRFHorsesandkids@gmail.com. Gifts, auction donations, and sponsorship are tax-deductible.   SRF has been helping horses and kids through its award-winning programs since 1989. Whether your life is enriched by these horses as an owner, trainer, a veterinarian, or by providing services or products, please join us in giving them a chance to move off the track and on to a new life when their days on the oval come to an end.   SRF is different from any other organization. Its mission provides lifetime follow-up for its more than 4,000 adoptions, so no horse is ever at risk, and today nearly 400 trotters and pacers are under SRF’s expense. Your support is very much appreciated and needed.   From the Standardbred Retirement Foundation  

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands Racetrack has created a task force focused on perception of practices while on the racetrack. This committee will be comprised of various industry participants including customers, horseplayers, media, racetrack management, drivers, and trainers. The committee will be asked to observe the horses from the time they enter the track until they exit while paying particular attention to the appearance of the post parades, drivers speaking while scoring, first turn courtesy tucks, half in and half out racing style and coming off the pylons at the top of the stretch essentially creating a passing lane where one does not exist along with any other topics that they feel need to be addressed. This initiative will begin on the weekend of April 9th. The committee will take notes on the races and communicate their thoughts and observations to Meadowlands Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason M. Settlemoir on Monday mornings.  Each Wednesday, the committee will meet by conference call to hear and discuss the weekend's observations. If necessary, the notes may be forwarded to the tracks Presiding Judge. The committee will meet through the end of May, with the last conference call slated for Wednesday, June 2 at which time a decision will be made regarding the continuation of the initiative.  Committee Chairman Jason M. Settlemoir had this to say, “We are appreciative of these individuals who have committed their time and effort to this taskforce. Jeff (Gural) and I are constantly getting feedback from customers, trainers and drivers by e-mail or by phone calls along with social media. We feel it is important to point things out that everyone sees when we race to all trainers, drivers, and our judges.  "Customers, whether making big or small wagers, want real answers when they bet their hard earned money on our races. They want to know why a driver provides a "courtesy" (a term better suited to the Maître d at a fine restaurant and not used in any sport other than horse racing) tuck, why a driver would sit in the middle of the track waiting for cover to develop, why are horses consistently drifting off the pylons at the top of the stretch and letting others go up the inside when there is no passing lane at any of the Gural properties.  "A couple of my pet peeves are talking on the track, and post parades, so we will address those too. Let’s face it, the product we put out is seen by almost everyone on TV not sitting live at the track. Customers see these things when the cameras happens to move past them or position on them. Talking on the track is a perception issue in my opinion and while most of the times our post parades are pretty good as they are led by design by our starter around the track. "I look forward to hearing what the customers say and the trainers and drivers as well. I believe this is an important step to continue to improve our product.” From The Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Yacht Seelster had never been driven by George Brennan, and a week ago, the Nik Drennan trainee displayed blazing speed before getting nipped at odds of 70-1 on the money by Colossal Stride A, yet somehow, with a new driver and a different tactic, Yacht Seelster won the Saturday night harness racing feature at The Meadowlands. "They were leaving too fast for me," said Brennan of the early stages of the $20,000 high-end conditioned pace. "I'm looking for the best trip I can get. And it looked like it was going to work out for me." Lexus Witha View A flew off the gate to grab the lead at the quarter in :27.1 as Tito Rocks sat the pocket with 9-5 second choice Ashley Locaz N on the move going after the lead. Brennan and 'Yacht' sat fifth, right in behind the 8-5 public choice Colossal Stride A, waiting for that one to make a move. "I slid in behind him," said Brennan. "I thought he was the horse to beat." Colossal Stride A had such a quick burst of speed down the backstretch that Yacht Seelster had to catch up to his cover, and when Ashley Locaz N did not relinquish the top to Colossal Stride A, Brennan was sitting pretty. In mid-stretch, after three-quarters was timed in an unspectacular 1:23.4, Brennan tipped Yacht Seelster off his cover and gunned down Colossal Stride A at the wire after Ashley Locaz N weakened in the lane. "I didn't know if I had enough to get there," said Brennan. "But [Colossal Stride A] was pretty tough, and some others were swarming in on the outside. I thought I could get up." Racing in the five-path for the final eighth, Yacht Seelster got there by a head in 1:51. Colossal Stride A was second with a fast-closing Franco Totem N gabbing the show spot. As the 5-1 fourth choice in the betting, Yacht Seelster returned $13.80 to his backers. The 6-year-old son of Shadow Play-Yankee Athena, who is owned by Donald Lindsey, Paul Kleinpaste and William Alempijevic, now has 16 wins from 87 career starts and earnings of $236,600.   A COOL DOZEN: All-source wagering totaled $3,147,829. There have been 12 Saturday night programs at The Big M this year, and all 12 have seen betting surpass the $3-million plateau. A COOL HALF-DOZEN: The 20-cent Pick-6 did not see many big prices, but those with winning tickets cashed in huge nonetheless. With a $7,384 carryover serving as the catalyst, the pool totaled $43,520 when all bets were taken. After a sequence that saw winner's odds of 3-2, 5-2, 5-1, 4-1, 9-5 and 8-5, those who hit walked away with $6,568. A LITTLE MORE: Five drivers accounted for 10 of the 13 winners on the program as Simon Allard, Yannick Gingras, Corey Callahan, Andy McCarthy and Todd McCarthy all scored twice. ... Racing resumes Friday at 6:20 p.m. For full race results, click here. by Dave Little, for The Meadowlands  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Displaying a remarkable closing kick, Major Occasion A was airborne through a final quarter of :26 in her seasonal harness racing debut to become the second straight Friday night feature winner to do it in last to first fashion, taking the $22,500 Winners Over $50,000 Lifetime for pacing fillies and mares in 1:52.4 at The Meadowlands. "She's a good mare," said winning driver Dexter Dunn. "Her [1:54.4] qualifier last week was a good one." And it proved to be more than enough to get her ready for the assignment at hand. It appeared that the race belonged to Betalady, who was on the lead through soft fractions of :28.1, :57.2 and 1:25.4. Major Occasion A opted to race from last in the six-horse field for most of the mile, picking up live cover at the five-eighths from 9-5 favorite Sweet Lucy Lou, who was last week's come-from-behind winner. Off the far turn, the 'Major' tipped off her cover before rocketing home to record a 1-length win over Betalady. Sweet Lucy Lou was third. MAJOR OCCASION A REPLAY   "When you're sitting back last and you're chasing good mares, it's going to be hard to catch them," said Dunn. "But she really knocked it down through the stretch. She was good off the helmet and should have a good season." Trained by Nifty Norman for owners Enzed Racing Stable, Major Occasion A, a 7-year-old daughter of Art Major-Fake Occasion, returned $6.40 to win as the 2-1 second choice in the wagering. She now has 21 wins from just 68 career outings, good for earnings of $415,273. HE'S A GRAND OLD MAN: Even though he was making the 293rd start of his career, 14-year-old Statesman N looked like a kid out there in the $12,500 Play Meadowlands Final for $7,500 claimers, scoring by a determined head in 1:53.3. Owned and trained by Yogi Sheridan, Statesman N completed a two-race sweep of the series by brushing to the lead before the half and holding off the pocket-sitting Northern Rock after the pair duked it out toe-to-toe through the stretch. Statesman N, a gelded son of Christian Cullen-Club Sport who was driven by Dunn, now has 58 career wins and lifetime earnings of $949,483. As the heavy 2-5 public choice, he returned $2.80 to win. A LITTLE MORE: Mark MacDonald continued his winning ways by pacing the driving colony with three winners on the card, giving him eight victories over the last five programs. ... There were no winning tickets sold in the 20-cent Pick-6, creating a carryover of $7,384. Those with five correct collected $96.14. ... All-source handle totaled $2,701,155. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m. by Dae Little, for The Meadowlands  

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