Meadowlands and Yonkers Offer Stakes Elims

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Ted Black

July 9th, 2017

Saturday night offered standardbred racing fans a chance to see some of the sport's top sophomore pacers and trotters compete at The Meadowlands and several promising two-year-old colt pacers clash in the Lawrence B. Sheppard eliminations at Yonkers Raceway that same evening.

In the opening race on the Meadowlands card, Dream Baby Dream (Rod Allen) gained command soon after the start and led throughout and held safe the late bid of Sunshine Delight (Brett Miller) to capture the $42,000 Mary Reynolds in 1:52.2. A three-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill owned and trained by Allen, Dream Baby Dream notched her first win in six starts this year and third win in 12 career outings.

One race later in the second race, Walner (Tim Tetrick) made a lasting impression in his sophomore debut when he brushed to command before the opener and led throughout and simply jogged home in hand to a six-length score in 1:51.1. A Chapter Seven colt trained by Linda Toscano, Walner kicked off his sophomore campaign in sharp fashion and looms the future books favorite for the Grade I, $1.5 million Hambletonian although Devious Man has already won a pair of lucrative stakes.

Several races later in the $20,000 Preferred Handicap for pacing fillies and mares, Lady Shadow (Yannick Gingras) lived up to her role as the 2-5 favorite when she overcame post nine to gain command, got a breather to the half and withstood a late, first over bid from Nike Franco N (Tetrick) to score in 1:49. A six-year-old Shadow Play mare trained by Ron Adams, Lady Shadow has won all five of her starts this year and now boasts 33 wins in 60 career outings. She is the reigning division champion and defending Maryland-bred harness horse of the year.

Then one race later in the lone Meadowlands Pace elimination, Huntsville (Tetrick) easily lived up to his role as the 1-9 favorite when he brushed to command before the opener, got a breather to the half in 55 flat and by three-quarters in 1:22.2 and sprinted clear in the lane to a four-length score in 1:48.4. A sophomore son of Somebeachsomewhere trained by Ray Schnittker, Huntsville notched his fourth win in six starts this year and will join Downbytheseaside - who accepted a bye into the final - in next week's $750,000 Meadowlands Pace final.

Then one race later in the $240,000 Graduate Final for four-year-old trotters, Marion Marauder (Scott Zeron) lived up to his role as the 4-5 favorite when he overcame post nine and a long, first over grind to prevail by just over a length over longshot Warrawee Roo (Daniel Dube) in 1:51.2. Last year's Triple Crown hero and champion three-year-old colt trotter and trotter of the year, Marion Marauder has won two of three starts this year and now owns 13 wins and $1.9 million banked in 31 career tries for trainer Paula Wellwood.

One race later in a non-winners of $15,000 last five starts, Wakizashi Hanover (Tetrick) benefited from a pocket trip behind The Wayfaring Man who carved out wicked fractions of 26.4, 53.1 and 1:20.1, angled out of the two-hole at the head of the lane and surged by in the lane to a two-length score in 1:47.3. A five-year-old Dragon Again gelding trained by Jo Ann Looney-King, Wakizashi Hanover notched his second win in 16 starts this year and now owns a solid 17-16-7 slate and lifetime earnings of nearly $1.4 million banked from 54 career outings.

Then one race later in the $240,000 Graduate final for four-year-old pacers, Sintra (Jody Jamieson) benefited from a second over journey behind Check Six (Gingras) down the backside and through the far turn and then swept past the leaders in the lane to a four-length score in 1:47.2. A four-year-old Mach Three gelding trained by David Menary of He's Watching fame, Sintra recorded his sixth win in eight starts this year and now owns 14 wins in 27 lifetime tries with career earnings of just over $450,000 following his world record performance.

That same evening at Yonkers Raceway, Persist Blue Chip (George Brennan), Kwik Talkin (Jordan Stratton) and Trump Nation (Eric Goodell) won the trio of elims for the Sheppard, but the middle winner of the group was clearly the best of the bunch and the runner-up in that event, Springsteen (Chris Ryder) was likely the second-best colt in the bunch.

Persist Blue Chip rallied from well off the pace along the passing lane to score in 1:58.3, then Kwik Talkin won the second elim despite a two-move effort in 1:54.4 and he just overhauled Springsteen in the lane. Then in the final split, Trump Nation rallied from well off the pace to overtake Hora Star (George Brennan) who endured a three-wide bid down the backside and through the far turn and lasted for the place spot. The draw for the $110,000 Sheppard final will play a major role in the final, but don't be surprised if Kwik Talkin and Springsteen finish one-two in the final.