Meadowlands offers solid Saturday night card

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Ted Black

July 8th, 2018

While Belmont Park was the main focus for thoroughbred racing fans on Saturday afternoon, standardbred racing fans turned their attention slightly south later that evening as The Meadowlands presented two, $250,000 Graduate Series finals as well as a pair of eliminations for its signature event.

Just prior to the midway point of the card, Ariana G (Yannick Gingras) rebounded from a pair of sixth-place efforts to live up to her role as the 3-2 favorite in the $250,000 Graduate final for four-year-old trotters when she overcame post eight to gain command near a 27.3 opener, got pressured by the half in 55.2, shook loose on the far turn and by three-quarters in 1:23.2 then drew clear from the pocket-sitting Moonshiner Hanover to score by three lengths in 1:50.2.

A four-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill trained by Jimmy Takter, Ariana G notched her second win in four starts this year and pushed her career bankroll past the $2 million plateau by regaining her winning ways following a pair of dull efforts. She will be among the serious contenders in numerous four-year-old events for trotters and will likely spend much of them against the boys with perhaps an occasional, imminent clash for the current queen of older trotters, reigning horse of the year, Hannelore Hanover.

Then one race later in the first of two, $50,000 Meadowlands Pace eliminations for three-year-old colt pacers, Stay Hungry (Doug McNair) lived up to his role as the even-money choice when he overcame a modest tempo while benefiting from a second over journey to score in 1:49. A sophomore son of Somebeachsomewhere trained by Tony Alagna, Stay Hungry recorded his second win in six starts this year and his eighth win from 15 lifetime tries when he overhauled stablemate Nutcracker Sweet in the lane by getting the last quarter-mile in under 26 seconds.

No stranger to major stakes, Stay Hungry had earlier won his elimination for the North America Cup before settling for fourth in the $760,000 final then he was third in his Max Hempt elim then rallied for fourth in that $500,000 final. Stay Hungry has yet to taste success in either of the two previous lucrative finals that he has reached, but he will head into the Meadowlands Pace as a serious contender in that $700,000 affair.

Then one race later on the card, Lima Novelty (Scott Zeron) overcame post 12 and an extended parked out journey to score by three lengths in 1:52.1 in the $65,000 Mary Reynolds Stakes for three-year-old filly trotters. A sophomore daughter of Chapter Seven out of an SJ's Photo mare trained by Linda Toscano, Lima Novelty recorded her third win in seven starts this year and sports seven wins and $160,000 banked in 15 career outings.

Then one race later in the second, $50,000 Meadowlands Pace elim for the sophomore colts - a group that included two $60,000 supplemental entries - Courtly Choice (David Miller) overcame a brief first over bid to wear down Canadian invader Jimmy Freight then outlast the pocket-sitting American History (Gingras) to score by a length in 1:48.2. A Maryland-bred sophomore son of Art Major trained by Blake Macintosh notched his fifth win in seven starts this year and pushed his seasonal earnings past $120,000 and looms a serious contender for next week's final and eventually the coveted title of Maryland-bred harness horse of the year.