Four-year-olds take center stage

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Ted Black

June 8th, 2015

In the hours after American Pharoah captured the Belmont Stakes to become only the 12th Triple Crown winner in the sport's history and the first in 37 years, the Meadowlands hosted a quartet of races for four-year-olds that offered standardbred fans a chance to enjoy the evening.

In the first of two Graduate Series legs for trotters, Shake It Cerry (Jimmy Takter) benefited from a pocket trip behind Gural Hanover (Yannick Gingras) and then went past her male rival in the lane to prevail in 1:51.4. A four-year-old daughter of Donato Hanover notched her second win in five starts this year and now sports a 25-2-1 slate and $2.1 bankroll from 33 career outings.

Then three races later on the card in the first Graduate Series split for pacers, Rockeyed Optimist (Tim Tetrick) overcame a long, first over journey to wear down JK Endofanera (Gingras) to score by length in 1:48. A gelded son of Rocknroll Hanover trained by Steve Elliott, Rockeyed Optimist notched his ninth win in 10 starts this year and now owns a 15-3-3 slate and $225,000 bankroll from 29 lifetime outings.

Two races later on the card in the second Graduate split for pacers, Doo Wop Hanover (Tetrick) benefited from a second over journey and overhauled All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) in the lane for a length score in 1:48. Another four-year-old Rocknroll Hanover stallion trained by Elliott, Doo Wop Hanover notched his fourth win in eight starts this year and now sports a 10-4-6 slate and $390,000 bankroll in 27 career outings. He had won his previous start at Tioga Downs in New York in 1:47.4.

Then three races later in the second Graduate split for trotters, JL Cruze (David Miller) gained command early, yielded to 1-9 favorite Father Patrick (Gingras) before the half, sat a loose pocket through the fr turn, angled out at the head of the lane and wore down the odds-on choice for a neck win in 1:51 despite drifting out in the final 100 yards.

A four-year-old Crazed gelding trained by Eric Ell for owner Kenny Wood, JL Cruze has won 12 of 14 starts this year and banked over $180,000. He had won a trio of series finals earlier this year, but his determined victory over Father Patrick, last year's champion three-year-old colt trotter who won his seasonal debut at Harrah's Philadelphia in 1:52.1, was certainly the highlight of his career.