Michael Carter prepares for Battle as the newest Meadowlands Mastermind

by Debbie Little

Michael Carter joins the third edition of the Battle of the Meadowlands Masterminds handicapping contest which gets underway Saturday (June 1) and runs through Friday (Aug. 2).

The “Battle” pits five handicappers – Carter, Dave Little, Jessica Otten, Gabe Prewitt and Ken Warkentin – against each other in an attempt to give out winners and earn money for their chosen charities.

“It’s a cool promotion, the Battle of the Meadowlands Masterminds, because it helps charity and it supports that kind of competitive fever,” Carter said. “It creates that kind of competitive atmosphere and, listen, I love to compete as much as anybody.”

Carter, a racetrack manager/assistant race secretary at Ohio’s MGM Northfield Park, has been working at least once a month with The Big M’s TV team since November of 2023, splitting his time between the Sam McKee Broadcast Set, the paddock and FanDuel TV.

Despite the fact that Carter works in Ohio, where he lives with his wife, Kait, and daughters Amelia, 3, and Anabelle, 15 months, he was all-in to do the six-hour drive to New Jersey, when necessary, and compete in the Battle.

So, what’s it like for Carter being the new kid in the competition?

“Very stressful,” he said with a laugh. “You stack up against some of the best handicappers in the country when you talk about the people who handicap The Meadowlands, right? When you work at The Meadowlands, like Dave and Jess, you have to kind of hone in on that craft, because there are gamblers looking for specific types of information.”

In addition to preparing to handicap the horses, Carter also has some thoughts about his competition.

“One of the things I think Jess excels at is the horseman aspect,” he said. “If a horse gets an equipment change, which, by the way, The Meadowlands is amazing at getting out to the betting public, maybe that equipment change means something to her. And if she finds out in enough time about it, then it may skew her handicapping.

“One thing I’ve noticed about Dave is he is very much a trip kind of guy; like he knows when a horse has pop. I’ve been sitting with him on the desk and my horse is making a three-wide sweep and I’m like, ‘Oh, my horse has got a ton of go,’ and he goes, ‘Nah, that horse doesn’t have anything,’ and sure enough, the horse flattens out through the stretch.

“Kenny sees everything. He sees everything from the sky. So, if anybody is going to know the races the best — I mean, obviously Jess and Dave will know them well — but it’s Ken. He sees every single race week in and week out. He knows all the drivers’ tendencies and he gives out a lot of really good handicapping information as well.

“And then of course you’ve got Gabe, who watches probably every replay in North America. This is a guy who was betting the Pick-5 at Batavia Downs at my wedding at the reception table. So, it literally is intimidating, but I’m looking forward to it. We’re all friends. We all have a sense of humor and I think when you do something like this, that’s important, right? This contest requires a sense of humor, more so from the social media aspect of things. We always have a good time and try to make some lighthearted jokes and I think that’s extremely important as well, that camaraderie between the five of us is unprecedented.”

Carter’s mornings are reserved for his daughters, and he keeps that important routine even when he has to make the long drive across I-80 to The Meadowlands.

“I take them every morning to their in-home babysitter, and that’s kind of my time to spend with them before I leave and I drop them off and normally I hit the road around 8 o’clock and make a couple of stops along the way,” Carter said adding with a laugh, “About halfway, I text Dave [Little] and say, ‘What are we having for dinner?’”

Carter has a personal connection to his charity, Pacing for the Cure, of which he is a board member.

“My mother actually had Multiple Sclerosis for a long time prior to having lung cancer,” Carter said. 

“[Pacing for the Cure] had done some work with Post Time with Mike and Mike, our old podcast, so they had asked if Mike [Bozich] and I were interested in joining the board and they have really great family values.

“They do a lot of really nice things for people. When my mom passed away, they donated a medical machine in her honor to someone and they’ve been extremely supportive of not just my mom, but my dad, who had Parkinson’s Disease. They have and always will be very supportive and carry a place in my heart and it’s a board that I’m proud to serve on.”

Little is playing for the Standardbred Retirement Foundation, Otten for New Vocations, Prewitt for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Warkentin for the Harness Horse Youth Foundation.

From a betting perspective, Carter has a gameplan going in.

“So, I’m very much an exotics kind of guy, exactas, trifectas, supers,” he said. “Sometimes, it comes back to bite me on the butt and you have to go back to basics and remember sometimes when you have a really strong opinion, a simple win bet is as constructive as your exotic bets. If you like a horse, that’s say 25-1, and you bet him up and down in exactas and trifectas and boom, your opinion was right, but then the horse you needed to finish third, didn’t finish third, guess what, you’re walking away with zero. So, for me, it’s recognizing when I have a strong opinion about something and making sure that I make the correct wager at that time.

“In those multi-leg wagers, it’s important when you’re constructing those tickets, if you don’t like the favorite, don’t use the favorite. You can’t be afraid of losing those multi-leg wagers because eventually that’s going to happen and it’s okay. So, in the long run, you will make money by taking stances against favorites that you don’t necessarily like.”

Carter said Little has given him some suggestions when it comes to his handicapping style.

“Dave gave me a hard time when I first started coming out there because I would send in my 50-cent Pick-4 and it would cost like $2.50,” Carter said. “He was like ‘Dude, come on,’ and I’m like, ‘What do you want?’ And he goes ‘If you’re going to do that, that’s fine, but it needs to be like a $5 Pick-4.”

What makes the Battle a little different is the element of fan involvement, where not only charities win, but so do fans that come out to support their chosen handicapper. 

“It costs nothing to enter, and at the end of the rainbow they have a 1 in 18 chance to walk away with $10,000,” said Little, who won the second edition of the Battle. “How can you pass that up? It’s the kind of thing I would love as a fan.”

For more detailed information about participating as a fan in the Battle of the Meadowlands Masterminds, go here.

So far, the Battle has been dominated by the Daves — the late Dave Brower won the inaugural edition in 2022 — but Carter hopes to change that. 

“I mean, of course, it would be awesome to win,” Carter said with a laugh. “But the important thing here is that we’re raising money for a really good cause and, at the end of the day, we’re helping five organizations who, without this contest, wouldn’t have the money that we’re going to give them.

“I think The Meadowlands has done a really good job, from a benevolent standpoint… As much bad publicity as there is that surrounds the sport just in general, I think these things that we can do to help charities, these good stories, do a whole lot of good.”