Meadowlands offer stellar card on Saturday night

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Ted Black

July 15th, 2016

Racing fans may have grown accustomed to the hot, humid conditions that have enveloped the Mid-Atlantic and much of the Northeast this week and those typical summertime climes will prove an ideal backdrop for the stellar card at the Meadowlands this Saturday night as the New Jersey one-mile oval hosts a bevy of lucrative stakes for trotters and pacers.

In the second race on the card, a modest field of three-year-old filly pacers will go postward in the $150,000 Mistletoe Shalee, but much of the attention will get focused on a pair of sophomores.

LA Delight (John Campbell) has dominated the Ontario Sire Stakes in each of her two seasons on the track for trainer Bob McIntosh, and she has done well in open stakes. After finishing third in the Fan Hanover final behind division leader Pure Country, LA Delight stepped back into ONSS and notched her third win in six starts this year and owns 14 wins in 18 career tries. She looms as one of the two fillies to beat in this affair.

The rapidly improving Blue Moon Stride (Andrew McCarthy) was a gritty second in the James W. Lynch Memorial at Pocono Downs in her most recent outing and arrives with three wins from six starts this year and boasts a solid 7-7-0 slate from 19 lifetime tries. She has enough speed to make her presence known early and throughout the mile. Lindwood Beach Girl (Yannick Gingras) overcame a strong inside bias to finish third in the Lynch final and merit respect in this spot.

One race later on the card the three-year-old filly trotters will be on display in the $100,000 Delvin Miller Memorial. All The Time (Gingras) has won three of four starts this year and 10 of 16 lifetime for trainer Jimmy Takter, but Broadway Donna (David Miller) looms as the favorite in this spot for trainer Jim Campbell. She won her seasonal debut before finishing second as the 1-5 favorite in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes. She won nine of 10 starts last year en route to the division title among freshman filly trotters.

Then one race later is the first of two $150,000 divisions of the Stanley Dancer Memorial for three-year-old colt trotters, contested at the extended distance of one-mile and an eighth. Southwind Frank (Gingras), recent winner of the Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial at Pocono Downs and a victor three times in four starts overall this year and 14 of 16 lifetime, looms the solid favorite in this spot for trainer Ron Burke and rates the future book favorite for the Grade I, $1 million Hambletonian next month at the Meadowlands.

Looking to topple Southwind Frank in the first Dancer split are Dog Gone Lucky (Corey Callahan), Love Matters (Brett Miller), Trolley (Marcus Miller), Dupree (Ake Svandstedt) and Sutton (Andy Miller). Dog Gone Lucky has been second in each of his two starts this year and sports a solid 7-5-2 slate and $515,000 bankroll from 16 career outings. Trolley was second to Southwind Frank in the Beal final, while Love Matters has displayed plenty of potential.

Then three races later in the second Dancer Memorial split at nine furlongs is a wide open affair that includes Lagerfeld (Gingras), Blenheim (Campbell), Milligan's School (Andy Miller) and Bar Hopping (Tim Tetrick). Despite his outside post, Bar Hopping looms the favorite having earned a spot in the Beal final against Southwind Frank, but Milligan's School rates a serious upset chance after overcoming the strong inside bias at Pocono Downs to win the Beal consolation.

Then two races later in the $470,000 William R. Haughton Memorial for older pacers at one-mile and an eighth, this event features the rematch of the 'big three' of Always B Miki (David Miller), Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague) and Freaky Feet Pete (Trace Tetrick).

Always B Miki vaulted to the head of the class among this division and horses of both gaits and genders when he captured the $500,000 Ben Franklin final at Pocono Downs in 1:47, one week after capturing the elim in the identical clocking. In that event he brushed to command before the half and disposed of a first over bid from Wiggle It Jiggleit and then outkicked the pocket-sitting Freaky Feet Pete for the handy score.

But while Always B Miki was idle last week, Wiggle It Jiggleit rebounded from that setback to capture the $250,000 Graduate Final at the Meadowlands in 1:47.2, overhauling Freaky Feet Pete in the final 100 yards. Wiggle It Jiggleit had the post advantage in that event, but he will have to overcome post 10 this weekend while Always B Miki and Freaky Feet Pete leave from posts five and seven, respectively.

Adding further intrigue to this showdown is the appearance of defending Haughton champion Mach It So (Tim Tetrick), a winner of his last two against Open Handicap rivals at Yonkers Raceway, Canadian invader Shamballa and the Burke-trained tandem of Always At My Place and All Bets Off, who will start from posts 11 and 12, respectively, in the second tier.

Then one race later the four-year-old trotters will have their moment in the spotlight when they contest the $470,000 Hambo Maturity, also at the added distance of one-mile and an eighth.

This event features a gender clash between the razor sharp Hannelore Hanover (Gingras), a talented mare that has won eight of nine starts this year and 17 of 30 overall, against Graduate hero Musical Rhythm (Campbell). Also joining the fray are Centurion ATM (Trace Tetrick), runner-up in the Graduate final last week, Crazy Wow (Tim Tetrick), arguably the second-best three-year-old colt trotter in the land last season and Canepa Hanover (Callahan) who sports more talent than his winless record in six starts this year would indicate.

Then in the feature event, the $730,000 Meadowlands Pace for three-year-old colt pacers back at the standard distance of one mile, much of the attention will be on Racing Hill (Brett Miller), hero of the Max Hempt Memorial at Pocono Downs after finishing second in the North America Cup final, and Control The Moment (Brian Sears), sharp 1:49.2 winner of the elim for this event after racing against the bias in the Hempt final.

Other serious contenders in the Meadowlands Pace include Lyons Snyder, Boston Red Rocks and the Burke-trained tandem of JK Will Power and Check Six.