Meadowlands Offers Stellar Saturday Night Card

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Ted Black

July 13th, 2017

After months of being fed a steady diet of lower-level conditioned events perhaps more fitting of a B track, the Meadowlands will turn things up a notch or two this Saturday evening when it hosts a stellar card featuring many of the best older pacers of both genders and sophomore trotters of both genders prepping for the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks next month.

In fact, the opening race on the card is the $125,000 Del Miller Memorial for three-year-old filly trotters, although one of them will garner the lion's share of support. Ariana G (Yannick Gingras), last year's champion two-year-old filly trotter whose only setback this year was against male rivals in the recent $500,000 Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial at Pocono Downs when she finished third following a prolonged first over bid, should regain her winning ways from the rail for trainer Jimmy Takter.

Ariana G looms the 1-5 favorite in the Del Miller against a decent group that includes Dream Baby Dream (Rod Allen), hero of the $40,000 Mary Reynolds Stakes last weekend at the Big M, Magic Presto (Brian Sears) and Southwind Avanti (Tim Tetrick), who drew post seven but arrives off a sharp 1:54.1 qualifying score for trainer Anette Lorentzon.

One race later the older trotting mares will take center stage in the $30,000 Miss Versatility, but most of the attention will be focused on Hannelore Hanover (Gingras), the reigning division champion who has won three of four starts and nearly $150,000 banked this season for trainer Ron Burke. Caprice Hill (Sears) and Barn Girl (Brett Miller), who sports a solid 9-5-2 slate and $125,000 banked from 19 starts already this season, loom prospective upsetters from posts three and seven, respectively.

Then one race later many of the top Hambletonian prospects will clash in the $160,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial for three-year-old colt trotters. Last year's juvenile trotting champion Walner (Tetrick) wowed onlookers with a 1:51.1 score in his seasonal debut last weekend at the Big M, but gets an immediate acid test from post eight with Devious Man (Andy Miller) just inside of him. A Maryland-bred son of Credit Winner trained by Julie Miller, Devious Man has won four of five starts this year and banked $400,000 already thanks to sharp scores in both the $500,000 Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial at Pocono Downs and then $250,000 Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon Downs.

Then one race later in the second $125,000 Del Miller split for three-year-old filly trotters, Overdraft Volo (Andy Miller) has every right to atone for her third-place effort in the Mary Reynolds last week when she leaves from the rail for trainer Julie Miller. Glitzey Gal (David Miller) has won three of seven starts this year and Thats All Moni (Tetrick) has won twice in four seasonal starts, but three others in here are chasing their first win of the season in the lesser Del Miller split.

One race later in the $165,000 Mistletoe Shalee for three-year-old filly pacers, Agent Q (David Miller) rates the solid choice from post six courtesy of a 4-2-0 slate and $300,000 banked from seven starts this year, but Brazuca, Idyllic Beach and Someomensomewhere (Tetrick) all merit upset chances although they appear statistically inferior now to Agent Q, bred by the J L Cruze connections of Kenny Wood, Bill Dittmar and Steve Iaquinta.

Then one race later in the second $30,000 Miss Verstility split for older trotting mares, Broadway Donna (David Miller) deserves favoritism after trying the boys last weekend in the $240,000 Graduate final for four-year-old trotters. Barn Doll, P L Jill and European invader Pasithea Face S (Tetrick) all merit upset chances in this split.

Two races later on the card the four-year-old trotters will take center stage in the $450,000 Hambletonian Maturity at one-mile and one-eighth and much of the attention will be focused on 2016 Hambo hero Marion Marauder (Scott Zeron), last year's Triple Crown winner and champion three-year-old colt trotter and trotter of the year. Marion Marauder has won twice in three starts this year, including last weekend's $240,000 Graduate Final for four-year-old trotters.

Then one race later in the $750,000 Meadowlands Pace for three-year-old pacing colts, the track's signature event looks to be a match race on paper. Huntsville (Tetrick) won his elimination handily in 1:48.4 for his fourth win in six starts this year for trainer Ray Schnittker and last year's champion two-year-old colt pacer will start one spot inside of his main foe, Downbytheseaside (Brian Sears), who has won five of seven starts this year for trainer Brian Brown and accepted a bye into this lucrative spot.

But just to their outside are a quartet of upset prospects, including Miso Fast, Filibuster Hanover, Santafe's Coach and Classic Pro, the Maryland-bred free-legged pacer trained by Dr. Ian Moore.

One race later the emphasis will return to the older horses as an overflow field of 12 aged pacers will clash in the $425,000 William R. Haughton Memorial at one-mile and one-eighth.

Potential favorite Mel Mara (Corey Callahan), runner-up in the recent $500,000 Ben Frankin final at Pocono Downs, drew post 12 and will have to avoid any trouble navigating the first turn in a crowded field to get clear sailing down the backside. Mach It So (Tetrick), the 2015 Haughton hero, drew the rail while the durable and versatile All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley), hero of the inaugural $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway last fall in 1:48.2, will start alongside him.

But the Haughton is filled with live longshots, including Takter trainees Sunfire Blue Chip and Lyons Snyder and Jennifer Lappe trainees Bettor's Edge and Clear Vision, two former Burke Brigade members who have combined for 10 wins from 34 starts this year and both sport 1:48.2 seasonal marks. Boston Red Rocks, Rock N Roll World, Dealt A Winner, Rockeyed Optimist and Check Six also will go behind the gate in a deep, competitive edition of the Haughton.

Then one race later in the $200,000 Lady Liberty Stakes for older pacing fillies and mares traveling one-mile and one-eighth, defending hero Lady Shadow (Gingras), the reigning division champion and Maryland-bred harness horse of the year, will have to overcome post 10 to remain perfect in six starts this year for trainer Ron Adams. Lady Shadow already boasts victories in the $300,000 Roses Are Red final at Mohawk Raceway and the $150,000 Betsy Ross Invitational at Harrah's Philadelphia and last weekend she prepped for this event by taking a $20,000 Preferred Handicap for filly-mare pacers in 1:49 here.

But all 10 of her rivals drew inside of her on Saturday, including Windsun Glory who will start from post 11 in the second tier. Pure Country (Brett Miller), Nike Franco N (Tetrick), Blue Moon Stride (Sears) and Frost Damage Blues (Sears) all merit respect due to their favorable draws. Nike Franco N was second to Lady Shadow last weekend in the Preferred and earlier in the Betsy Ross final, while Pure Country arrives winless in four starts but fresh off a sensational 1:48 qualifier that should have her primed for her best effort thus far this season.