EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – A large part of the experience of The Meadowlands Pace, one of harness racing’s greatest events, is the soundtrack that accompanies it.
“The Pace” are two words that elicit more than 40 years of memories of the greatest horses, greatest drivers, and, of course, greatest race calls in the history of the game.
Old-timers might recall Ed Gorman’s 1980 Pace call, which included arguably the greatest horse ever: “And they are following Niatross and nobody’s gonna catch him. It’s Niatross by four and he’s going away!”
Tom Durkin, who later in his career would go down as one of the greatest thoroughbred announcers of all time after his Big M stay, had this to say in 1985: “Nihilator, what a powerhouse, he’s in full stride. Here’s Nihilator, Bill O’Donnell urging him, to a sensational mile. 1:50.3. Nihilator! A superstar!”
In 2008, the late, great Sam McKee got to call what has been the most thrilling Pace to date as Somebeachsomewhere looked to stay unbeaten: “Somebeachsomewhere full out. Art Official, a desperate lunge on the outside. Art Official. Somebeachsomewhere. At the line…..Art Official! 1:47! World record upset in The Pace.”
And, finally, last year, the current voice of The Big M, Ken Warkentin, authored this thrilling finish: “In deep stretch, Papi Rob Hanover. Battling back, Tall Dark Stranger had more. Tall…Dark…Stranger in The Meadowlands Pace with Yannick Gingras!”
(All of the above races, and many more are available by going to the Meadowlands YouTube Page.)
This Saturday (July 17), the 45th edition of The Big M’s signature event will take center stage on a star-studded 14-race card that will include 11 stakes events. The evening gets underway with a special early post time of 6 p.m. The Meadowlands Pace is race nine and has a post time of 9:46 p.m.
For harness fans who can’t make it out to the track or who live in another region of the country, there will be a live two-hour show telecast on Fox Sports 2 starting at 8 p.m. The Big M’s TV team of Dave Brower and Dave Little will be on set, Jessica Otten will have pre-race features and interviews and Gabe Prewitt will join the team and have winner’s circle reaction.
The Fox Sports 2 presentation will show four live events, which will comprise the “Fox Sports Pick Four” (races six through nine): The $178,500 Dorothy Haughton Memorial, $265,400 William Haughton Memorial (Division One) and $400,000 Hambletonian Maturity will serve as the appetizers before the main course, the $700,000 Pace.
The supporting races on the card would be the envy of any track manager even without the events that make up the Fox Sports Pick Four. They are, in order, beginning with race one: the $142,000 Del Miller Memorial (Division One), $135,500 Stanley Dancer Memorial (Division One), $139,500 Del Miller Memorial (Division Two), $174,400 Mistletoe Shalee and $40,000 Miss Versatility before races six through nine (see above). Then, the stakes resume with the $265,400 William Haughton Memorial (Division Two) and $138,800 Stanley Dancer Memorial (Division Two).
“Pace Night is always something special,” said track Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “It’s just more special this year coming on the heels of the pandemic. The Meadowlands is expecting a big crowd and we are pulling out all the stops for our guests to enjoy the party on the biggest night in harness racing.”
KEEP ON TRUCKIN’: Come on out for a bite to eat on Pace Night at some of the area’s best food trucks, with everything from empanadas to barbecue, to seafood tacos to Italian ice. For complete details, go to playmeadowlands.com.
OTHER OPTIONS: There are still a limited amount of café and lounge tables for purchase. For information, click here. Guests who would like to dine at The Big M’s Pink buffet for $49.95 can call 201-THE-BIGM for reservations.
A GREAT NIGHT TO PLAY: The Meadowlands Pace Night card will feature 14 races, which will include eight wagers that feature a low 15 per cent takeout (five of the bets will include The Pace):
· Race 1: 20-cent Pick-5
· Race 4: 20-cent Pick-6
· Race 6: 50-cent Pick-4 ($125,000 guaranteed pool)
· Race 7: 20-cent Survivor Pick-7
· Race 9: 20-cent Pick-5
· Race 9: 10-cent Pentafecta/Hi-5
· Race 10: 50-cent Pick-4 ($75,000 guaranteed pool)
· Race 14: 10-cent Pentafecta/Hi-5
DO YOUR REID-ING: On Friday (July 16) night, David Reid will be Dave Brower’s guest immediately after the second race replay as the two will take a look at the 2021 Tattersalls Summer Mixed Sale, which takes place Sunday, July 18 at The Meadowlands at noon.
Reid, the sale manager and president of Preferred Equine, will discuss some of the more attractive horses being offered in the sale, which will be accessible to the public by using the Stable Gate Entrance. For sale details, go to preferredequine.com.
GET YA FREE PROGRAMS HERE! Free programs for every race of every Meadowlands card are available to the public, available here.
FIND US ON TWITTER: 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 Brower (@eedoogie), Little (@DaveLittleBigM), Warkentin (@kenvoiceover) and Otten (@JessicaOtten1).
WHO DOES BROWER LIKE? For those who like to get a leg up on the action, see track oddsmaker Brower’s selections and analysis here. Brower’s input is generally available 48 hours before every card.
CHECK OUT THE SHOW: Big M TV’s live “Racing from The Meadowlands” pre-game show, which provides news, notes, features, staff selections and a look at that evening’s marquee races, gets underway at 5:47 p.m. on Friday night.
Saturday night, with the earlier post time of 6 p.m., the pre-game show will start at 5:27 p.m.
Live action continues every Friday and Saturday through August 7 (Hambletonian Day). Post time is 6:20 p.m. with two exceptions: Meadowlands Pace Night (6 p.m.) and Hambletonian Day (noon).
BET YANKS-SOX AT “THE BOOK”: One of the best rivalries in all of sports is the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, and those two storied franchises will have the stage all to themselves Thursday (July 15) evening, as Major League Baseball comes back from the All-Star Break with just that one game. First pitch is at 7:08 p.m.
The action figures to be fast and furious, and, as of Thursday at noon, the Yankees were +146 laying 1½ runs. On the money line, the Bronx Bombers were -120.
Professional golf’s British Open got underway Thursday morning with Jordan Spieth listed as the favorite at +470 to win the tournament (as of Thursday at noon). He was followed by Louis Oosthuizen (+480), Justin Thomas (+1800), Rory McIlroy (+2000) and Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele (both of whom were at +2200).