Meadowlands Champing At The Bit For Huge Kentucky Derby And Sports Betting Day

Written By Bill Gelman on April 26, 2019 - Last Updated on February 10, 2020

Meadowlands Racetrack may not be Churchill Downs, but the Kentucky Derby is still a huge deal.

So is having the market-leading FanDuel Sportsbook.

But what happens when you bring gamblers from these separate betting worlds together under one roof? That answer will come on Saturday, May 4.

The reason we have to wait several more days to find out is that NJ sports betting did not exist at this time last year.

Jeffrey Gural, the owner of Meadowlands Racetrack, spoke to Play NJ about preparations for the big day of Kentucky Derby betting.

When asked to ballpark the anticipated crowd, he threw out a range of 15,000 to 20,000 people.

This is the first of three legs to horse racing’s Triple Crown. And the Kentucky Derby is the biggest of them all. Gural would know.

“It’s not even close. If there is a Triple Crown on the line when the Belmont [Stakes] goes off, that will be big. But there is nothing bigger than the Derby.”

Meadowlands + Derby Day

Along with this day being bigger than all others, Meadowlands is once again hosting Keep Calm & Derby On. The crazy Derby hats are optional.

Besides the chance to bet on what is billed as “the greatest two minutes in sports,” there will be an optional Derby lunch buffet ($39.95 per person). Gates open at 9 a.m. and the first of 14 races from Churchill Downs will be simulcast at 10:30 a.m.

The biggie, though, has a 6:46 p.m. post.

Besides the Derby being shown on the big screen outside, fans also will be able to watch it from inside FanDuel Sportsbook.

But how will the sports bettors interact with those wagering on horse racing? It’s not typical for horse races to be shown inside of an NJ sportsbook. Borgata Race & Sports Book is the lone exception.

Gural elaborates on the plans:

“We are going to try and figure out how we integrate the sports betting. So, we are going to have the Derby in the sportsbook. Whereas, ordinarily on a Saturday, we wouldn’t have any horse racing up there. And we would expect that our sports customers will be betting on the Derby on Saturday.”

And Gural notes betting on horses, let alone betting on the Kentucky Derby, is not typical behavior for the sports betting crowd.

A full day of NJ sports betting

Kentucky Derby betting will be front and center, but there will be plenty of other sporting events taking place.

Those watching the event outside or from another section of Meadowlands Racetrack will still be able to bet on sports using the FanDuel NJ mobile sportsbook.

Here is what else is on the betting menu for May 4:

  • NBA playoffs  
  • Stanley Cup playoffs 
  • MLB games 
  • PGA 

Unfortunately, parlaying the Derby winner with the Sixers or Warriors will need to be two separate bets. FanDuel, like all NJ online sportsbooks, does not include horse racing as a betting option.

The upside is, besides the mobile app and betting windows, customers can now place bets using IGT PlayDigital’s PlayShot QuickBet kiosks. Gural talked about the added convenience for bettors.

It means there will be plenty of time to place those sports bets and get back in time for the big race.

“The biggest problem we had is we didn’t have self bets [kiosks], so there were long lines to make a bet,” said Gural. “Now we have self bets, and the lines have disappeared.”

Kentucky Derby betting

For those who head to Meadowlands on May 4 to specifically place a Derby bet, horse racing bets, you can place them at separate windows and kiosks.

Or, if you prefer an app, there is one in NJ: TVG.

But with 20 horses in the Kentucky Derby field, which horse is the best one to choose? Do you go with the favorite or a longshot? The final field and post positions will be drawn on Tuesday.

And like an NFL Sunday, the odds will shift between now and post.

How about a trifecta (predicting the top three finishing horses in the correct order)? The options are not as diverse as the rest of NJ sports betting, but horse racing does offer some creative wagering options.

When it comes down to it, as Gural said, “gambling is gambling.”

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Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and now NJ sports betting and online gambling.

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