by James Witherite, Meadowlands media relations
East Rutherford, N.J. -- Horseplayers located both on-course at The Meadowlands and from other outlets worldwide teamed up to wager $3,100,745 on the Friday (February 12) evening program at the Big M, marking a fifth consecutive card with over $3 million in all-sources handle.
"I just want to thank the horseplayers who support the Meadowlands," said Jason M. Settlemoir, CEO and General Manager of Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment. "What else can you say? Friday handle was up over $800,000 from this day last year, and we hadn't had five straight $3 million handles in 12 years. I would say the betting public is loud and clear about how much they love our product. Thanks again to all our customers."
From the corresponding Friday in 2015, live handle saw an increase of $41,606 while $801,792 more was wagered on Meadowlands races from off-track.
A steady dose of longshots on the Friday card made things all the more worthwhile for value players, as exactly half of the 14 winners were sent off at double-digit odds. Among the upset winners was Gweneeee J ($24.20), who sustained a first-over bid to capture the evening's featured $20,000 distaff pace.
Following a string of successful pressing and stalking bids against mid-level company, the 4-year-old American Ideal mare rose to upper-level competition and secured a cozy tracking trip from her inside post. With Inittowinafortune (Yannick Gingras) and Clear View Hanover (John Campbell) doing the heavy lifting through a :27.2 initial quarter before racing one-two through a :29.3 second split, Gweneeee J was virtually untaxed before commencing her first-over bid three-eighths from home. Scott Zeron floated forward with the now 7-time winner, mildly gaining into a :27.3 third quarter before kicking clear in upper stretch. After engulfing Inittowinafortune, the main danger was 6-5 favorite Gallie Bythe Beach (Tim Tetrick), who ducked to the pegs after a live second-over spotting on the far turn. Gweneeee J prevailed by a scant head, reaching for the line to equal her lifetime mark of 1:51.4.
Linda Toscano trains Gweneee J for KJ Stables, LLC.
In the sub-featured $16,000 upper-level conditioned trot, B Yoyo ($8.60) took advantage of a clear tracking trip, pouncing in mid-stretch to defeat pacesetting favorite Crosbys Clam Bake by the better part of three lengths in a scintillating 1:52.4 amid chilly conditions. Joe Bongiorno drove the 6-year-old Striking Sahbra gelding for trainer Richard Johnson as well as owners Bill Lambos and Dionisios Liberatos.
With Saturday's races abandoned and transferred en masse to next Saturday (February 20), both 20¢ Jackpot High 5 wagers will carry over to Friday's (February 19) card. The seventh race will see the jackpot rise to $27,867, while $95,960 will await High 5 players in the finale. Post time next Friday is slated for 6:35 p.m. Eastern.
Customers are reminded that The Meadowlands and Winners OTW both remain open for full-card simulcasting Saturday on a normal schedule despite the lack of live racing.